Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: Keep a Little Secret
Author: Dorothy Garlock
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: March 2011
Genre/Sub-genre: Historical "Americana" Romance
Year/Setting: 1939 Oklahoma
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle/Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None/Mild
Violent Content Rating: Minimal/Moderate
Dorothy's Website/Blog: www.dorothygarlock.com
This is the newest offering from a NY Times Bestselling author who has written almost fifty books offering mystery, seduction, and the most beautiful romances to be put on paper since Jane Austen unleashed her talent on the world. So it comes as no surprise that this latest story by Ms. Garlock was a "must-read" from page one.
Readers begin briefly in Colorado in the year 1938 sitting by the side of a woman who has lived a life full of happiness and joy, yet has kept a secret buried deep inside her heart. Once upon a time this woman became impregnated by a man whose identity she has never revealed to her twins - Owen and Hannah. Now that she is at the end of her days her son, Owen, wants nothing more than to find out the name of the man who left his mother with two children to raise, no financial help, and a stigma attached to her that made the townspeople have nothing to do with her because she was an unmarried woman. When she passes on, Owen goes to work overturning the house and rifling through his mother's things in order to find out the identity of this man who he's going to find...and destroy.
In 1939, Charlotte Tucker is a young woman who is just about to set out for her new life. She’s been stuck in her small town life, but has just received a letter asking her to become the schoolteacher in Sawyer, Oklahoma. She can barely contain her excitement as she boards a train and leaves the "green, lush world" behind and travels for miles staring out the window and watching the mighty oaks and elms turn into tumbleweeds, and the green grass turn to shades of red and brown in the dry, hot landscape.
When she's met by John Grant, Charlotte is even more excited. While in Sawyer she'll be boarding with John and his wife on a huge horse ranch that looks like a mansion oasis in the clouds of bright red dust that swirl around her. John is a lovely man and wants nothing more from her than to do him a favor - offer an education to a young girl who is pregnant with child whose man is no longer by her side.
When Charlotte attends her first dinner at the ranch, surrounded by the many hired hands that work on John's ranch, she meets a wonderfully kind, HUGE man by the name of Hale. Hale McCoy is one of those lions with the heart of a lamb who is head over heels for another young woman who has recently come to town - Hannah Williams. Hannah works at the local barrister's office and she and her brother, Owen, reached Sawyer just a short time before Charlotte arrived.
When Charlotte first stares into the eyes of Hannah's surly brother, she is struck by the fact that she's absolutely and completely attracted to him. Even as time goes on and Owen decides to call her Charlie, and be short and abrupt with her at every turn, Charlotte can feel something hidden behind the mask of anger he shows to the rest of the world.
As secrets are uncovered and Charlotte begins to understand the issues that are at stake on Mr. Grant's ranch, she finds herself falling deeply in love with Owen - but wanting to defend her employer against the allegations that Owen truly believes. Owen knows in his heart that John Grant is the man who long ago hurt his mother and will do anything to make sure that the man - and all he's worked for - is destroyed. Add in a slime by the name of Carter Herrick, who also holds a secret that will alter Owen's world, and strange, funny characters like the owner of the local funeral home who does nothing but stop people in the street to talk about their future deaths, and this book has something for every reader of every genre.
Ms. Garlock has once again proven that she knows exactly what to write, and this story is one that you won't want to put down. The romance between Owen and Charlotte; the courtship of Hannah and the large Hale McCoy; the back story of the villain Carter Herrick; and the debts that have to be paid by many all come together to make sure that the action in this novel never stops. Enjoy!
Until next time,
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