Friday, January 4, 2013

S.E.C.R.E.T.: A Novel by L. Marie Adeline

Cassie Robichaud is thirty-five, a widow and currently waiting tables at a rundown café in New Orleans. One particular day at work, Cassie discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman. The eye-opening contents lead her to S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, darkest, and most intimate sexual fantasies. The S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T motto: No judgment. No limits. No shame. Cassie soon begins a journey toward sexual fulfillment and acceptance, experiencing a variety of....everything.

I have to admit, when I first stumbled upon this book, I was fascinated with the idea of this story. The idea of (secret society or not) a group of women making it possible for other women to explore their sexuality, their hidden wants and desires, in managed and safe environments was intriguing to me. It was my hope that Cassie would take a very personal and emotional journey as well. For these reasons, I was excited to begin reading. Plus, I have a love of stories set in and around New Orleans, one of my favorite places.

What I found most interesting about this story took place in the very beginning. I loved the scenes where Cassie is first introduced to the women, some of them founders, of the society. I felt a true sense of sisterhood as they explained the reasons for and behind the founding of the society and their desire to help Cassie find her true self by exploring her sexuality. These scenes, to me, had the potential to set up what could have been a somewhat unique series in this genre. This was the only reason for my giving it three stars rather than two. However, not long past this point, that potential seemed to completely disappear.

SECRET ultimately became one more story of sexual encounters interspersed with uninteresting filler. I truly do not enjoy being harsh or critical of a book. I realize there is an author, a person, who labors over every scene, probably every word. But, I was honestly and thoroughly disappointed in this book because there *was* such potential. There was simply no follow-through. Once the random sexual encounters began, I felt like the story lost all of the qualities that connected me to it early on. I lost all connection to and interest in Cassie. There was none of the emotional exploration I looked forward to with such anticipation. I actually found myself becoming bored by the story the longer I read.

In the end, the point I keep making, this is actually a story of unfulfilled potential and expectations. For everyone involved. I wish this author much luck with her next endeavor. Given time and the proper format, I believe she has a story worth telling.

**ARC courtesy of Random House via Edelweiss**