The Officer and the Secret by Jeanette Murray

The Officer and the Secret by Jeanette Murray
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (345 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

If There’s One Thing He Hates, It’s a Secret…

Coming home after a rough deployment, Captain Dwayne Robertson wants some stability in his life, and finds it in the friendship he’s forged with Veronica Gibson while he was away. But her past is a well-guarded mystery, and Dwayne doesn’t know if he can deal with a woman who has something to hide…

And She’s Filled with Them…

Veronica Gibson doesn’t want anyone to know about her bizarre upbringing. She’s finally escaped her missionary parents and would be enjoying her independence if she didn’t feel so insecure about fitting in. She can easily envision a glorious future with Dwayne—but can she build a new life on a web of lies?

Don’t let the blurb make you think that the book is heavy with dark melodrama, angst and heavy conflict. It’s not. It’s actually a very nice story with some great introspection, humor, even some tenderness, and has a solid handle on what it’s like for a soldier to suffer PTSD. It’s well balanced and a wonderful, satisfying romance.

The one thing that was made very clear, crystal clear to me, was that Dwayne was a BIG guy. Large shoulders, large … well, everything and that includes his Southern drawl. Another aspect of that hugeness is his capacity to love life, to feel, to have empathy and understanding for others. It’s apparent that he has great loyalty towards his friends and anyone who is family to them, is family to him. It’s those near and dear friendships that keep the hero from feeling too insecure when he starts experiencing symptoms of PTSD. I enjoyed how the author had the characters interact, both with dialogue and descriptions. I liked when he messed up, they let him know it and in turn, he accepted their razzing and when he could, would give it back. It was that give and take in his friendships that made him a well-rounded hero. When he met the heroine, I was happy that he could see beyond the missish clothing and suspected the passion she held inside. He was patient with the heroine but not like molasses, thank goodness.

Veronica is a butterfly just emerging from her chrysalis. She’s an extreme late-bloomer and the story follows her as she finds and explores what it means to be her. To claim that she was repressed is an understatement. I enjoyed reading about her reactions to Dwayne, and the progression from wariness to awareness, and tentative flirting to all out seducing her man. Veronica endured some changes on the way to make that seduction happen and it wasn’t smooth sailing because every now and again, the hero’s PTSD sort of got in the way. It’s through the hero and heroine’s interaction during those periods that proved the measure of the woman and the belief that their relationship was going to be solid, eventually.

There’s only one part that didn’t jive for me and that was the first consummation. Somehow, the hero should have either figured it out, something should have been said or the ‘evidence’ of her first time might have been noted. I can’t recall him ever being aware that he truly was her first. Considering some of the things that made him feel ‘caveman-ish’, I would have thought that it would have been a biggie. Considering how many times the heroine referred to it, I thought it would have been a momentous moment – or, something. It was a nonevent and that lack left me a bit perplexed.

Another thing that needs saying is that this is the third book in a trilogy about a trio of Marines who find love. I have not read the other two and did not suffer from the lack. This book was a good standalone and the only thing it managed to do was make me curious about reading the previous two. The first one sounds like it might have been really funny along with an interesting plot conflict. Certainly the premise grabbed my attention.

The Officer and the Secret delivers a solid romance. It’s filled with fun characters, a poignant and believable conflict from the hero and a delightful blossoming heroine. The story is well paced and delivered with an easy flowing storytelling voice. I’m totally pleased with the happy ever after, and highly recommend this book to other romance readers. Ms. Murray has a winner with this one.

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