Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-515-15634-8
Romantic Suspense, 2016 (Reissue)
When they were twelve, Madeline Chase and Daphne Knight experienced a traumatic event that eventually made it hard for them to stay close as BFFs. In fact, in the last twenty years, they hadn’t made any effort to contact the other person. All this changes when Madeline, upon inheriting her late grandmother’s abandoned hotel, comes back to Sanctuary Cooper Island – the place where it all began – only to come across a murder. Before long, she’s plunged into a plot full of scheming hedge-fund managers, crafty politicians, crazy people, and more. Fortunately, her late grandmother’s head of security Jack Rayner is there to do the whole hero thing, while his brother catches up with Daphne for her own ride on the rodeo as well.
Despite the rather cluttered cast, Secret Sisters is recognizably a romantic suspense by Jayne Ann Krentz, so don’t worry about coming across anything unexpected. This one has many familiar elements, although I have to say, it is nice to come across Madeline, who is guarded and more reserved than the author’s usual Pollyanna heroines. Unfortunately, romance and characterization are not the main priorities here, so the folks and their relationships are just so so.
As for the suspense elements, they are rather lacking in terms of excitement. The villains are more one-dimensional than compelling. If they are not the blustering “I’m an evil bastard, muahahaha!” cartoon villain type, then they are the “I’m a crazy killer, muahahaha!” type. These folks like to posture and give long expositions so often, I’m amazed they didn’t have a Powerpoint presentation all done up ready to be flashed at the good guys during the denouement. Also, the premise needs some considerable suspension of disbelief, as it’s one of those “Oh, as it just happens, I came across this thing, and ooh, I’m now in trouble!” things mixed with the ever-annoying “The answers are always in that case all along, but we decided to wait until the denouement to look at them and go, ooh, so now we know!” gimmick. As a result, the suspense seems crafted by a newbie who is a bit too eager to show off her brilliance by having her villains monologue about how amazing she is to come up with these twists and turns.
Still, after all’s been said and done, this is a book by Jayne Ann Krentz, so it’s always readable. This is one of those books can be read on autopilot mode, so it can be reserved for those days when one can only read small parts of a book now and then, instead of being able to sit down and read everything in one single sitting. Just try to keep expectations to a minimum to ensure a more pleasant reading experience.