Our Little Secret
by Starr Ambrose
Our Little Secret is set up to be a complicated, fast-paced story where the thrown-together lead characters fall into a passionate affair while solving a politically charged mystery.  Unfortunately, it’s a hot mess.

Lauren Sutherland is a buttoned-up businesswoman with a steady kind of life and a predictable relationship with her fiancé, Jeff.  She’s sweet, predictable and mostly content with her life.  One day, her twin sister Meg impetuously elopes with her boss, the much older and notorious womanizer Senator Creighton, and Lauren goes to visit Meg to talk her out of the obviously disastrous marriage.

Lauren finds Mr. Creighton at home – not the Senator, but his gorgeous, intense son Drew.  Gerald, the Senator’s assistant is also on hand.  All of them are looking for the Senator and Meg, but no one has heard from them.  Drew and Lauren go through some personal papers at the house, and uncover what they think might be a blackmail ring aimed at the new Mr. and Mrs. Creighton.

Drew comes up with a plan that involves having Lauren pose as Meg at society events, hoping to draw out the blackmailer.  Instead, it seems that someone out there is trying to kill Meg.  The Senator and Meg call Drew and Lauren briefly, but give them few clues to their whereabouts and the reason that they’ve disappeared.  All they really tell them is that they are all running out of time to solve the mystery.  So, Drew and Lauren decide to delve deeper into the Senator’s political scene, and twisted characters and events lurk behind every corner.

Our Little Secret poses as a political intrigue but it has very little content to back up the elaborate, winding storyline.  There is a multitude of characters, most of whom seem extraneous; they may be put in place to make the reader doubt the identity of the blackmailer, but it’s confusing instead.  My main issues with the mystery plot are that the characters are overwhelming, as well as bland, and that the story itself just goes on and on, completely losing the interest factor.

Speaking of bland, the love story between Lauren and Drew starts out in a promising fashion, and their attraction sparks nicely in the getting-to-know-you phase.  But then Lauren comes off like a bit of a crazy person, dumping her fiancé of three years after knowing Drew for a few days and also suddenly dumping her steady lifestyle to show off a new side of her personality that she’s just discovered.  That was way too much change to be believable, especially because this shift happens right after Ambrose has set up Lauren as a comfortably settled woman.  Drew seems to be a caricature.  He’s described fairly well, but has very little emotional impact on the story.  He just ends up looking like a conduit to the political story, and a fairly boring one at that.

While the premise of Our Little Secret has been done before, it had the possibility of being presented in a very intriguing, smoldering fashion.  It’s just not done here, and my recommendation is to skip this secret altogether. 

--Amy Wroblewsky       

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