Secrets & Suitors

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

I rather enjoyed this! It's unusual to have Regency romance written in the first person, but it worked well to show Nora's feelings and conflicting emotions, and allowed a greater flexibility in removing the hero from much of the plot, rather than him needing to have alternate chapters. There's a stronger focus on family and self-awareness than in many romances, perhaps because although there is a love story, it's a slow burn between childhood friends where neither is aware that the other is in love with them, so there isn't so much work to put in in terms of getting to know each other. There is the cliched 'revelation of a pregnancy' epilogue, which always puts me off a book. 

I didn't realise when requesting this that this was from a Mormon publisher; there is no religious content but the book is a 'sweet' romance without steamier scenes. I prefer a romance that contains sex scenes as I see no need to excise a large part of a relationship unless the characters are explicitly asexual, but if this is where your tastes lie then this is an enjoyable example. Three and a half stars.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed Secrets and Suitors. I thought the story was intriguing. I am giving this story four stars. I look forward to more by this author in the future.
Was this review helpful?
As with most books I read I tend to gravitate to the books with good blurbs (back of book summary) and when I read about this book, I knew I had to read it. I stayed up late reading this book as I couldn’t put it down. I loved the interactions between James and Nora. Their friendship from childhood took on a twist when James left for Jamaica to see his father’s plantation there. He left Nora behind with a broken heart, but he held his own secrets. I did notice the glances and jealousy from James but would have hoped for a little more interaction between the two. A few moments where Nora would really start to question the relationship would have been nice. It didn’t take away from the book, but it would have given me a better insight into the two characters and their dynamics. As for the character Mr. Weston the interactions between him and Nora also seemed to lack a little substance, so he seemed more of an extra character instead of one of the main characters. I would have liked to get to know him better and why he was pursuing Nora. Lord Worthington seemed to hold a higher focus than Mr. Weston and I do believe his character was well developed and the interactions with him were well thought out. I do wish there had been more of a hint into his role as a rake because I almost felt he suddenly went from someone nice and interested to this jerk. All the characters and interactions were great, but they did lack something, so I was slightly disappointed in the story.
I did love how the plot was pulled together to make the ending seamless and I suppose if it had been a touch more dramatic of an ending, I would have had a better experience. However, I would and will recommend this book to others because it is a good romantic novel and has a great plot barring the small details that I wish were added to flesh out the characters.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and it is most likely more of my personal taste in wishing it had more details regarding the characters.
**Note: The views and opinions in this review are my own and not a reflection of the author or the publisher in any way.**
Was this review helpful?
This is a sweet, clean historical romance that I’m going to place in the Regency time period, although the book never actually indicates this is actually that time period.  I enjoyed everything about this story.  Nora is a shy, intelligent, and caring young woman who has been out for three seasons.  Her father is insistent that she marry Mr. Weston, as he can give her the status and security that all the young women of that time period were seeking.  But Nora has been in love most of her life with the boy next door, James, whom she thinks sees her only as a friend. As Nora moves among society, she begins to wonder if she should accept the marriage proposal. 

This story has so much heart to it as Nora seeks to find her own path in life.  Her family dynamics undergo a change, and the side story of her parents’ relationship adds depth to this book.  The ending book is very satisfying, as it ties together the storylines in the book in a wonderful way.  
This is the second book I’ve read by Joanna Barker, and I am impressed with the way she can tell a story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Typically I am one to read a lot of YA fantasy and sometimes read it so much that I need a break, and this was my break from my usual reads. Secrets and Suitors gave me my first taste of clean historial romance. It was gripping from the first chapter as Nora tries to find her way in society while battling her want to have her own ability to make her own choices as she doesn’t let secrets dictate her life. It was a sweet ending that definitely satisfied my need for a different genre!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for the digital ARC. I loved these two characters! i loved even more that Nora was so shy as I am also. It was such a cute romance novel. thank you
Was this review helpful?
Reading Secrets & Suitors was an absolute delight! I love period romances and greatly enjoy the strategic use of the mandated, restrictive propriety of the time which greatly elevates a flirty comment whispered close to a ladies ear, a lingering hold of a hand, or a brooding gaze to a heated and thrilling moment which I find to be much more exciting and enjoyable than an explicit sex scene. I liked the characters in Secrets & Suitors and the depth that each of their past experiences brought to the overall plot. I appreciated that everyone had solid, realistic motivations for their responses to a given situation. My only reservation was that our heroine seems to undervalue herself a good deal too much for my liking and I did wish there were fewer moments of internal dialogue of her telling herself she was boring and dim and that she wasn’t worthy of friendship or romantic attention and that she didn’t deserve happiness. I did appreciate that she had a quiet strength despite her sense of social awkwardness. I was happy to learn that she evolved and became a bit braver and that she felt more deserving of achieving her dreams toward the conclusion of the story. I appreciate a strong, independent young woman who can blaze a trail as a wild, warrior woman, but I also very much enjoy a good display of the strength of a quiet and kind lady as well. I often think of Gone With The Wind when I consider these different types of strong womanly depictions- Scarlett was rash, bold and dangerously determined while Millie was gentle, reserved and kind and I love her quiet strength. I am very much looking forward to reading many more of Joanna Barkers’ novels!
Was this review helpful?
Nora Hamilton has no desire to go back to London for her third season. Her heart was captured a long time ago, by her neighbor and best friend, James Allen. But when James set sail for the West Indies six months ago, he made it clear that he considered her nothing more than that--a friend. Her inflexible and distant father is pushing the suit of the stiff and proper Mr. Weston. Will Nora have to give in to her father's wishes and give up her dream of marrying for love?

This Regency romance had a lot more substance to it than many of the genre. Nora's home is full of secrets--secrets her parents have kept from her, secrets she has kept from them, secrets she must keep from her sister. The only person whom Nora can speak candidly with is the irrepressible James. But knowing that she feels more for him than he does for her, is it wise to continue to confide in him? A handsome and wealthy bachelor, Lord Worthington, begins to take an interest over the course of the season, but are his attentions truly sincere? Mr. Weston seems bland and colorless, but at least he is dependable? As Nora learns more about her parents' relationship and past, she gains the courage to make her own choices and choose the suitor who will make her heart sing.

I enjoyed the banter between James and Nora and the sensitivity with which he treated her. The romance in the story was heartfelt and believable and more important to the story than the period details. All in all, this was a good book to round out my hundred book reviews for 2019.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Secrets & Suitors by Johanna Barker tells the story of Nora Hamilton, a shy London debutante. As the London Season is starting up, her dearest friend returns from his travels abroad, her father insists she accept the suit of a wealthy man, and she finds herself falling for a dashing lord. Now if only she wasn't still also deeply in love with that dearest friend, James.

Secrets & Suitors is great for readers who love Pride & Prejudice variations. Nora is a sweet girl for a heroin, while shy, she still has her say within her family setting. While her father may command her to do as he says, she still finds ways to do it by her own terms. She's not quite an Elizabeth Bennett, but if she were, it likely wouldn't be as interesting a story. Nora's faults are up front for the reader to see and understand, and empathize with.

The angst level is relatively low, though certainly more than Jane Austen herself would have written. Throughout, you see hope for Nora to be happy no matter the outcome. That said, there are rogues and duels and visits to the Vauxhall pleasure gardens to keep things interesting. 

Overall, it's a nice read, great for a short vacation from technology. It's not highly memorable or earth shattering, but if all my books were, I'd likely be too overwhelmed to read. Glad this one ended up in my rotation and I look forward to more from Johanna Barker.
Was this review helpful?
Secrets & Suitors follows the main characters, Nora and James - best friends that are both attracted to each other but for their own reasons, keep their relationship from growing into a romance. This is a regency romance novel set in and around London. Nora's father commits her to marry a man of means, who is a virtual stranger to Nora. She puts off the engagement by promising to commit after her sister is presented to  London society. During this time she meets another man of means that appears to be interested in her. As she juggles these two men, she still can't deny her feelings for James. She decides her parent's marriage was probably arraigned since there is no love lost between them. She sees her future in an arranged marriage to be just as unhappy. 

As the plot moves forward and secrets revealed, Nora is forced to change these perceptions about all close to her. Nora and James were the most compelling characters and both were well developed. Some of the characters were more one-dimensional - more character development was warranted. Descriptions of different settings were well done. Thanks to NetGally and Covenant Communications for the opportunity to read and give an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed this intriguing story. Secrets can complicate things, and sometimes taking a risk for love is scary. The story was well done and kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen and if love would win in the end!
Was this review helpful?
Miss Nora Hamilton and Mr James Allen have known each other, practically, since birth.  "He is a neighbor of my father's and a good friend of mine."  

Just last season, James suddenly left for Jamaica to care for the families sugar plantation, leaving Nora wondering what she did wrong. 

 This season, Nora is back in London with her 3rd season and she is tentatively engaged to Mr. Westin.  Nora is heart broken.  She barely knows Mr. Westin, "this near-stranger of a man. Heavens, I did not even know his Christian name."  She misses her friendship with James and longs for something more but...

"Father disapproved of him so mightily, but on must have a heart of stone not to fall under James's harm. Which explained Father rather well, actually."

Nora's father has been distant all her life.  She doesn't have a relationship with him and fears his temper.  They often do not speak and she doesn't understand his feelings about her future.  Her mother is less distant but not an attentive and sensitive woman.  Nora and her siblings have never been told they are loved and wanted from their parents.  

I loved this book.  Barker throws in a whole lot for Nora to handle in a short amount of time but Nora is strong and determined to do what she feels is right.  Not only does Nora take everything in stride but she does it gracefully and with faith that something will work out.  She is a strong character with elegance.  She doesn't need to be rude, mean or boisterous to show her strength. 

This story is full of family secrets, mistrust, along with a bunch of hopes and dreams.  I loved the ending. I love the title and cover of the book.   

Nora, to me, is just like what a young woman would be in this time.  She thinks and acts like I've imagined a lady to.  James is almost silly but in a proper sort of way.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Mr. Westin.  He surprised me in several ways.  

Overall, I would recommend to anyone who loves Regency romance.  This is perhaps one of the best books I have read for this genre.    Sadly, I was so caught up in the story that I failed to take more notes about the book.  This is a definite re-read and often re-read, at that.  

Content: clean

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Sweet romance between the girl next door and the boy she always has loved. I liked both Nora and James, although Nora’s insecurity got a little annoying at times. Overall, a good read that I’d recommend.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley and Covenant Communications for sending me this book to read. 

I truly did not expect this book to be as good as it was. The family relationship was absolutely amazing and realistic. And Nora was an endearing main character. There were some aspects that were predictable but I didn’t mind them because the whole thing was endearing. It took me approximately 3 hours to read, so super quick story and completely worth it. I will be adding Ms. Barker as an author who I pick up again.
Was this review helpful?
Secrets and Suitors is a romantic triangle with Nora sure of her feelings for James, but her father is ‘forcing’ her to marry Mr. Weston.  Due to the separation James placed between Nora and himself, she tries to form a relationship with another man, the Earl of Worthington as a possible option.  You realize James is in love with Nora but pushes her away continually. 

Nora’s family seems quite dysfunctional with a domineering father, weak mother but loving siblings.  You will find the changes that occur to the family as Nora grows into womanhood to be encouraging.  She becomes a woman of strength as she develops and helps her family to find their future.  Secrets is a clean, yet romantic tale.
Was this review helpful?
Secrets & Suitors was an average read.  Overall rating 2.5.-3.  Nora Hamilton returns to London for her third season and manages to convience her father to allow her younger sister to come out with her if she marries the man her father has choosen.  Nora is predictably in love with her childhood friend James Allen; who her father does not approve of.  Family secrets keep James from confessing he true feelings for Nora.  Overtime, Nora learns to fight for what she wants and demand she be allowed to marry as she sees fit.  This was too predictable for me; with no mystery to how the story would end.
Was this review helpful?
This book was extremely cute but had some nice depth to it too and I wasn't quite sure for a bit where I wanted it to go. The ending was especially heartwarming and adorable and this was such a fun family to read about. I sincerely hope this becomes a series because it is my favourite type of historical romance and makes me want to live in that society (in some ways).
Was this review helpful?
It has been a long time since I genuinely did not know who the girl would end up with in the end. In Secrets and Suitors you will be left guessing until the very end. Joanna Barker doesn't just turn out books to make money. You can feel the tension in her stories and her attention to detail. Her ability to close out a chapter and create a genuine page turned is a real talent and so compelling. I highlighted so many of my favorite moments and they are often there at the end.

I related so much to Nora as a character. I think it was such an interesting point of view to show her timidness and tendency to not engage in the social circles she was forced into. James comes to her rescue time and time again, yet there are other suitors willing to show open love with her and meeting her needs in ways that he can't. Mr Weston grew on me slowly and their relationship has so much potential. 

What I also appreciated was the growth and dimension Barker gave to Nora's father. I feel I come to understand his character more and more throughout the book and his love story with his wife and family at the end is just as riveting as Nora's journey. This is one of those books you can go back to time and again and appreciate the push and pull that Barker weaves into her stories. I highly recommend it!
Was this review helpful?
Unrequited love, the girl next door, marry for love or status.  Each of these themes are present in this sweet romance by Barker.  James was a great love interest, but Nora has lost all hope of there ever being more than friendship between them.  Enter two rival suitors and there was a host of directions this story could go.
Was this review helpful?
*I received a free ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*


Typical me, I’m behind on my reviewing again! Yet this one sticks in the mind plenty enough for me to still be able to give my thoughts and opinions on it.

I will start by saying that I usually avoid Regency romances as, quite like contemporary billionaire romances, they can be unrelatable, reading more like a fantasy world. The description and the cover sucked me in on this one and, I am relieved to say, that the writing made the story relatable. The characters felt real, fragile yet headstrong, each with their own unique characteristics.

It is hard to understand from a modern perspective a time period where men, particularly the heads of the family, very much had a final say in anything that women did. Despite having read so much, I’d hate to live without my modern freedoms. Yet here we have a young lady who is willing to test her father’s resolve so she can marry the man she loves, rather than the one that may give her the greatest comforts.

We have a great main character, accompanied by a slew of side characters who make the story even more colourful. I especially like the Countess – quiet and calculating, with a great sense of duty, but with an even greater sense of humour.

All in all, I have to say that I’m very glad that I picked this up!

Final rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn't put it down
Was this review helpful?