25 April 2016

ARC Review: This Secret We're Keeping, Rebecca Done

This Secret We're Keeping

Title: This Secret We're Keeping
Author: Rebecca Done
Published: 07/04/2016, Penguin
Pages: 480
Source: Netgalley
Format: Ebook

Rating: 3.5/5

"A pupil and a teacher. Is it ever right to break the rules? Jessica Hart has never forgotten Matthew Landley. After all, he was her first love when she was fifteen years old. But he was also her school maths teacher, and their forbidden affair ended in scandal with his arrest and imprisonment. Now, seventeen years later, Matthew returns to Norfolk, with a new identity and a long-term girlfriend and a young daughter, who know nothing of what happened before. Yet when he runs into Jessica, neither of them can ignore the emotional ties that bind them together. With so many secrets to keep hidden, how long can Jessica and Matthew avoid the dark mistakes of their past imploding in the present? From debut author Rebecca Done, This Secret We're Keeping is a powerful and provocative novel about the ties which can keep us together - or tear us apart."

This Secret We're Keeping is a strong debut novel that I just couldn't put down. It's an emotional rollercoaster and a fairly quick read for its size, about a major taboo subject - a romantic relationship between a student and teacher and the aftermath years later.

This Secret We're Keeping is told both in the present from Jess's point of view (the student) and through a series of flashbacks in Will/Matthew's point of view (the teacher). I enjoyed both main characters and they felt real, although I didn't feel too attached to them. Probably because I've never been in their situation. I felt that they were both rather impulsive, in the current timeline and the flashbacks. And even though Will was a teacher, he was still quite young and in some ways still immature. He could relate quite well to his students. I did feel that Jess was slightly more mature for her age, which was probably a product of living with an alcoholic mum.

As to the predictability of the story, I felt that This Secret We're Keeping was a bit of a mixed bag. Some parts I saw coming a mile off whereas other were so unexpected they practically gave me whiplash. There are so many secrets revolving around the relationship, both directly and indirectly.

I was a tad confused during the final few chapters. I have an idea of what happened but it did jump around a bit. However, I have a very strong suspicion that this was just a formatting issue in the ARC I received and probably isn't in the finished version.

I'm also not too sure how I feel about the ending. Yes, it is a happy(ish) and nice ending with nothing wrong with it at all, but it just didn't end the way I hoped it would so I was a tad disappointed.

This Secret We're Keeping is a well done debut for Rebecca Done. The story and writing handles such a taboo subject so well and I would definitely recommend it to fans of contemporary. I look forward to seeing more by this author.

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