I chose to read Open Secret (2006) by Janice Kay Johnson, one of my auto-buy authors. This is the first book in a trilogy about siblings separated by adoption following their parents’ deaths in a car accident.
I started to read the book and was immediately confused by the musings of Suzanne as she compared her lawn to that of Tom’s, her uptight neighbor. The back blurb listed Carrie as the heroine, and P.I. Mark as the hero. Suzanne actually hires Mark to find her siblings.
The first one he finds is Carrie/Linette, who was adopted as an infant and was never told of her adoption. Carrie’s parents are a surgeon and a nurse, and they were in their 40’s and 50’s when they were finally able to adopt. As she grew up, Carrie always felt slightly out of step with her parents, not as smart or focused.
She actually got a degree in nursing, but gave it up after realizing she could not bear the sometimes gory aspects of the job, and she didn’t like being subservient to the doctors and other nurses, and now works as an editor of medical technical manuals.
Mark is a widower with an adopted son, and his agency specializes in reunited birth parents and children. His wife died trying to give birth to “a child of her own” because she wanted to experience pregnancy and childbirth and even admitted to him that she didn’t feel an adopted child was not the same.
So Mark has issues, and is not interested in a relationship even though he is attracted to Carrie. Having seen many birth family reunions, he is aware of the emotional rollercoaster Carrie is about to experience, and doesn’t want to get involved, but they begin dating anyway.
When Carrie finds out she’s adopted, she spends the rest of the book whining about how her parents did her wrong, and if she had known she was adopted, she would not have been so eager to follow in their footsteps.
Mark spends the rest of the book trying to reconcile his feelings about his wife and what she did. Suzanne gets nearly as much page time as Carrie and Mark, introducing Carrie to the relatives who put her up for adoption, planning her new business, and trying to find out about their brother Gary/Lucien.
Mark and Carrie’s relationship felt like a few dates, a sexual encounter, a conversation about how spoiled Carrie is, a break-up, and some I Love Yous at the end. There was very little actual development of Carrie as a character; instead, I feel that I know Mark and Suzanne very well, but the amount of backstory and whining took up too much of the plot. Grade C-
This review is apart of the TBR Challenge that we are all participating in this year. Please make sure to visit the other participants in this challenge. We trying to clear out our TBR piles!
Additional book info for Open Secret by Janice Kay Johnson. Publisher: Harlequin Pub. Date: March 2006 ISBN-13: 9780373713325 298pp
Series: Harlequin Super Romance Series, #1332