Keeping Secrets by Carmen Green
(Arabesque, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN: 0-7860-0495-9
****
Nick Crawford made a brief appearance in Silken Love, Carmen Green's second novel. Nick is grief-stricken, guilt-ridden and unable to face his family. Two years earlier, a plane he was piloting crashed. His youngest brother's wife, Marie, was killed.

The FAA investigation has absolved him. His brother Eric doesn't hold him responsible for the accident. However, Nick is still wrestling with his own demons.

In Keeping Secrets, we learn the reason for Nick's guilt.

Moments before the plane crashed, Marie told him her marriage was over. She had fallen in love with Nick. Her last words were words of love -- for her husband's brother. Nick and Marie had shared a close friendship. And although he loved Marie like a sister, he wasn't in love with her. Nick is consumed by guilt – for the crash and for any role he inadvertently may have played in the disintegration of his brother's marriage. He has maintained only minimal contact with his large, close-knit family in Atlanta since the accident.

Keeping Secrets begins approximately six months after the close of Silken Love. Nick, a Marine Corps captain, has been sent the contents of Marie's safe deposit box: two computer disks, a letter to Nick and another addressed to her best friend, Jade Houston. From the grave Marie makes a request that Nick seems unable to refuse.

Marie, an investigative reporter, had been working on a political exposé shortly before her death. The target of her investigation, a powerful local politician, currently is a candidate for mayor. Jade and Nick form an uneasy alliance to unravel Marie's mystery. Jade is a feisty, independent bounty hunter who is not about to take orders from the crusty, egocentric Marine – no matter how attractive he is.

They are polar opposites. He is one of six sons in the quintessential nuclear family. She is the daughter of serial marriers, who between them have been to the altar more than a dozen times. During a lull in the action, Jade's mother is preparing for her ninth wedding with a pair of her ex-grooms hanging around. But opposites –like Jade and Nick– attract.

Keeping Secrets, Carmen Green's first foray into romantic suspense, is enjoyable. I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't read Silken Love. The tone of Silken Love, is much lighter. Carmen Green did such an excellent job of character development in that book, I found myself missing the massive Crawford family, their weekly basketball games and holiday traditions.

Nevertheless, Keeping Secrets is recommended reading. Carmen Green is an emerging writer who is not afraid to branch out in other directions.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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