Book Reviews

Secret Lies by Amy Dunne at Bold Strokes Books

Genre Lesbian / Contemporary / Young Adult / Romance
Reviewed by jj on 02-December-2013

Book Blurb

Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?


Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.


Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and her seemingly perfect life.


Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?


Book Review

The tale takes place in Brassley, a large town in the East Midlands of England. I needed to wing it a bit when school references that would be second nature to locals got bandied about, but I didn’t find that too distracting and I enjoyed trying to equate the situations to my own experiences in the United States. Nicola, one of the leading gals, has just faced a bolt or die scenario and with a few scraps of survival genes still firing she races out of her home only to moments later smack right into Jenny, the other leading gal. FYI, these women come from very different social standings. Previously, I got most of the ugly scoop on both our leading ladies and they each have some serious, nearly overwhelming problems causing extraordinary pain with a large dose of helplessness tossed in. These issues are what contain the ‘secret lies’.  However, the seeds for an old adage are planted…fortune favors the brave! Now that the duo has made contact in a most spectacular fashion, they get to face most of the rest of the story as a team. I was so hooked!

Jenny, Jennifer O’Connor, is not a super student like her elder sister was. In fact, she just slides by while smoking, drinking, taking drugs, being sexually active, and supposedly the most popular girl at school, too. There are mega pressures fueling her wicked ways, the never-ending strain to be like her elder sister, constant exasperation to sustain her popularity, and dark demons that she is barely managing to keep at bay. Yet, she has a tender and caring quality that pops out or pokes through that simply dazzled me. I rooted for this complex gal to get on top of her troubles!

Nic, Nicola Jackson, tries to be invisible at school and usually succeeds at being totally ignored but sometimes gets razzed. She really wishes she could be invisible at home especially when her mother was at work. Time and time again she is beaten and burned by her mother’s live-in boyfriend. He tells her in no uncertain terms to get out or die one day after returning from school and being assaulted by him once again. Oh my goodness! I felt helpless and traumatized sharing this experience with Nic. This was incredibly intense and unnerving. Yet, it laid out the scenario in spades. Nic has a rough time in this story. I really adored her as she was spot-on insightful and not completely beaten down!

When a book makes me laugh with intensity and can also bring me to tears, I stand up and take notice! As grisly as the opening is, I hadn’t seen nearly the depths that would unravel and then the beauties burst forth trumping the uglies big time. There is a mega amount of passion, back stabbing, caring of a good and not so good quality, tender and passionate loving, super harsh brutalizing, and a truly compassionate reconciliation. This is splendidly balanced from the beginning to the end. I hope the harsh moments presented as the groundwork is laid do not scare any readers off. I heartily recommend this book as it principally has everything, but I do need to caution you; it may be classified as "young adult", but, personally, based on the story line and sexual situations, I would think it is aimed at the older end of the young adult market (16-18). Astonishingly magnificent!





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Bold Strokes Books for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 288 pages/86000 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 01-December-2013
Price $7.99 ebook, $11.95 paperback
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