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New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts deftly blends romance and suspense in this compelling novel of a woman whose career, marriage, and very life are threatened by the truth about her own past.
Emma McAvoy may have grown up in the limelight, but some secrets are hidden in a darkness no light can reach. Now on the verge of a successful career, and having fallen in love with the man of her dreams, Emma is looking to the future. Yet it’s the past that is about to catch up with her.
For Emma, her childhood had been almost like a rags-to-riches fairy tale - until the tragic night that changed her family forever. But what Emma thinks she knows about that terrible night and the man she’s about to marry is only half the truth. The other half is locked away in the last place she’d ever think to look: her own memories. It’s a mystery a handsome and relentlessly driven homicide detective needs to solve in a case that’s haunted him for years - and a secret someone will kill to keep.
Normally I love Nora Roberts' work, but there's boatloads I dislike about this book. I rarely write a review unless I really love or really can't stand a book, but when I do, I go into detail. I'm trying not to give away major plot twists below.
First, I REALLY hate it when the copyrights listed on Audible read "2014" for author and audio publisher, but in reality the book has a 1990 publication date. Audible/Amazon, let's have some truth in labelling and note when it's really a reissue of an old book.
Second. a good editor would have cut out at least one-third of this book. The first 30-40% DRAGS to the extent that I'd zone out for several minutes - something I very rarely do when listening to ANY book - and worse, when I'd rewind I'd find that I didn't miss anything I hadn't heard before. After the first couple zone-outs, I didn't care enough to rewind to catch what I'd missed! That almost NEVER is the case.
Third, if I wanted to read an ode to rock, drugs, other drugs, more drugs, drug abuse, overdoses (I'm not sure I've come across so many different references to drugs in any other fiction book), capricious sex, semi-incestuous sex, AIDS, child abuse, physical abuse, murder, attempted murder, long-term betrayal, etc., etc. I'd read a biography of a 60's/70's rock icon. It seems the author was living out her teenage fantasies about British/Irish rockers. I suspect that a good number of those highly positive reviews are written by folks who either came of age in the 60's or have deep nostalgia or identification with the era. If you don't already love the 60's, I doubt you'll love this book.
Fourth, I'd have rated the book higher if the central mystery had been engaging. Nope. Even most of the primary characters seem to have lost interest in finding out "whodunnit" after a couple years Few additional clues were dropped over time. And worse, my immediate suspects turned out (many) hours later to be the primary culprits. Yawn. If this crime was not a purely random act, who else had any motive?
Fifth, at one point, the original primary detective showed out-of-character stupidity. Then at a critical turning point, the heroine is distressingly stupid. And finally, neither the detectives (nor the other main characters) actually solve the crime. They didn't identify any of the perps who, luckily, were all identified in other ways. Such good luck for our heroine they were so stupid, too. Sigh, it's disappointing when an author can't move the plot forward without resorting to that "let's have someone do something stupid" tactic - but multiple times in a single book? Nora, you're so much better than that - usually!
Sixth, there were so many male characters in this book frequently lumped together in conversation with each other that it was nearly impossible to follow who said what to whom. I think I'd have had a problem keeping the male characters straight without a chart even in written text, but it was very difficult in audio where the various voices were unclear. However, I feel sorry for the narrator who may have been as bored as I was and found it hard to keep the many characters separate in her mind as well. At a later point in the book one character had a serious illness and until more details were given I honestly couldn't remember who he was or why I should care.
The only reason I give 2 stars instead of 1 is for the slightly more interesting last fourth of the book. But even that was a close call.
52 of 56 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
Nora Roberts has crafted an absorbing tale of love, fame, wealth, and betrayal that is infused with Renee Raudman’s exceptional narration. Little Emma McAvoy spends the first three years of her life terrified by a drug addicted, abusive mother who readily gives Emma to her famous rock star father in exchange for money. Brian McAvoy adores his baby girl and raises her in a world of affluence, security, and celebrity, occasionally darkened by drugs and promiscuity. Emma slowly accepts that she is safe and surrounded by love from her “Da”, her caring stepmom, and the capricious members of her father’s band. When her stepbrother is born, four year-old Emma is overcome with love for the baby and devotes herself to his care and protection. As Emma matures into an educated, accomplished, and beautiful young lady, the story takes a dark turn of treachery that will have you on the edge of your seat. Two men enter her life, both declaring their love - only one, however, is to be trusted. Excellent story!
22 of 25 people found this review helpful
How could the performance have been better?
The narrator must have attended the Dick Van Dyke school of Cockney accents. If you can't do an accent properly, please don't do it at all! It was painful to listen to, in the extreme. I am British, so perhaps am more attuned to these things, but I notice that a lady who lives in Canada has also complained about it. It totally spoiled the first part of the book, I am still listening, but hope there are no more London accents to be done.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Where does Public Secrets rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
I love Nora Roberts books so as a story ranks high...
Who was your favorite character and why?
Emma of course
Would you be willing to try another one of Renee Raudman’s performances?
Any additional comments?
I've got the paperback but thought would use my credit to listen as bought a few audio books from Nora Roberts library but the narrator was so bad almost didn't continue with listening to this which is a shame.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
The narration of this story is terrible. Awful attempt at British accents. I can't comment on the story as I couldn't bear to listen more than 5hrs of it. Such a pity.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed the compelling story, memorable characters and the twists and turns of the plot. I am appalled, however at the insultingly bad attempt at British accents. Renee, only village idiots sound like village idiots. Not every Brit. Makes me glad there were no Aussies in the plot.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful