House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey

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House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey
Publisher: Choc. Lit.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (287 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret …
Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy .

Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father – the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.

After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies – and, all the while, becoming closer.
But Liam still won’t let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts …

Negative emotions kept me reading in a hurry—just had to get three-year-old Poppy out of that toxic place.

Poppy’s mother, Madeline Frost, the–not-very-self-sufficient heroine, and the dastardly bully, Liam O’Grady that Madeline lives with, have a scary relationship.

When Jess, Madeline sister, pressures Madeline to seek help from her father and get away from Liam’s control, the reader is transported to Wrea Head Hall, the house of secrets, where numerous new characters get involved in Madeline and Poppy’s lives. Among them is Bandit, the hero, a veteran with PTSD. He has a family history with Wrea Head Hall. This history comes to light bit by piece as the story unfolds—not until the very end do we know its real significance.

A new facet of the novel is ushered in when Emily Ennis’ diary, written primarily during the World War II years, is found. Secrets of the house–tunnels, rooms, and where they are and what happened in them intrigue. The diary actually creates a story within a story. How the past is connected to the present at Wrea Head Hall surprises.

About the time I thought a happy, romantic love story would start, the villainous Liam slithers back into the action. His unrelenting efforts to control, his devious ways, and his connection with all the misfortunes in Madeline life send the story into the realm of horror. Wrea Head Hall is not the only house with secrets.

While this story demands the reader’s close attention to details, its plot is so compelling one feels an urgency to keep reading—just how much is Madeline going to have to go through before she gets her happy-ever-after!

Lynda Stacey does a remarkable job of weaving together, back stories, foreshadowing, and a big cast of characters with the many facets of this story. How she takes flawed characters and redeems them is amazing. House of Secrets is an unusual, compelling novel.

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