Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy. .
Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father – the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.
After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies – and, all the while, becoming closer.
But Liam still won’t let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts …Winner of Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks 2015 Search for a Star competition.
A Note From the Publisher
British romantic suspense
Average rating from 31 members
Maddie Frost has to put her little girl, Poppy first, and that means getting away from her increasingly controlling boyfriend Liam; far away. She heads to Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire, the boutique hotel owned by her estranged father. Maddie isn’t the only lost soul at the Hall; Christopher “Bandit” Lawless, an ex-marine, is now the gamekeeper at the property. The two are drawn together over an old diary that belonged to the Hall’s previous owner and become immersed in the history of the hall. Bust as Maddie and Bandit grow ever closer, Liam is just biding his time, because he doesn’t intend to let go of Maddie. I loved the descriptions of the Hall and it’s fascinating history. There’s nothing like an English country house story to while away a lazy summer afternoon
With so many self-published authors vying for contracts with publishers, new and unpublished authors can find it increasingly difficult to find opportunities to break through. The Choc Lit and Whole Story Audiobooks Search For A Star competition was set up to address that problem. With Choc Lit as one of its two sponsors, the shortlisted books - and the eventual winners - are guaranteed to feature a well-written story with romance at its heart, together with a gorgeous hero. Earlier this year I was enthralled by the previous winner, Jan Brigden, and the excellent As Weekends Go. And now it's the turn of Lynda Stacey, the 2015 winner: House of Secrets (isn't that just another gorgeous Berni Stevens cover?) is published for kindle on 19th July, and I just couldn't wait to read it. I really did enjoy this book a lot, even though it turned out to be something totally different from what I initially expected - this isn't in any way the sweet straightforward love story with a country house setting that you might be predicting in the first quarter. The author's excellent at creating characters. Liam really is a superb anti-hero - something about him sets your teeth on edge from the time you first meet him, and as time progresses his "Maddie darlin'" sends shivers up your spine. He was never really going to smile and let Maddie just walk away, was he? I'm not the world's biggest fan of children in books, but young Poppy is really well drawn and I really liked her interactions with everyone - she brings out the soft side of Bandit, and Maddie's love for her warms your heart. I liked Maddie's feisty sister Jess too - there's an excellent scene with some golf clubs early in the book that brings out her character, and the whole back story about why the sisters are so different adds an interesting extra layer to the story. I really felt for Maddie's father too - I struggled to get a clear picture of him at first, but really liked the scene where he talks with Jack about his feelings, and the ice skating scene was beautifully done and very touching. And as for Wrea Head Hall, it's almost a character in its own right, brilliantly drawn and a perfect setting for the unfolding story. There are some excellent bits of description that bring it to life - the Christmas scenes, Halloween, the grounds, and the detail of the interiors. Maddie's arrival at the hall and her first encounter with Bandit is very well done. Bandit is a great romantic hero - I really liked his vulnerability, his background story, the gentler side he shows with Poppy, his thoughts as he runs through the woods, and the way he becomes Maddie's protector. I must admit I was a tad less keen on Maddie herself - some of her actions seem really badly thought through, and I wanted to give her a good talking to. The putting herself in danger is totally inkeeping with the best gothic tradition - but it didn't stop me wanting to throttle her at times. As the story progresses, the tension cranks up to a level that makes the book difficult to set aside - scene after scene, every one vividly drawn, sometimes quite chilling (that breakfast scene!), some edge-of-the-seat writing when I had no idea where things were going. The book's climax is really excellent, and I read it through my fingers, with dry mouth and pounding heart. But if I was surprised by the way the story turned really rather dark and tense, I was more surprised by the historical thread after the diaries were found: but the way it all worked through was very good, and added more emotional depth to the story. My only small criticism was that I wasn't entirely convinced by Emily's "voice" for someone living in the 1940s - she seemed over modern in some ways, but also a bit Victorian. I did, though, really like the way the story threads all tied together at the end. To sum the book up? I really enjoyed it. In some ways it wasn't the book I expected, with its darker edge: but in other ways it most certainly was, and totally satisfied - even exceeded - my expectations as an involving love story (several, in fact) with a very different twist. The author writes really well - albeit with a few minor quirks to be expected from a first-time novelist - and I'm really looking forward to seeing what she tackles next. My thanks to Choc Lit, netgalley and the author for my advance reading e-copy.
A woman in danger, a damaged hero, a villain you just have to hate, and a house with secrets; this debut novel from Lynda Stacey has all the ingredients for a thrilling read. Fearing for her safety, and that of her daughter Poppy, Madeleine Frost runs away from her controlling boyfriend Liam, to her estranged father’s hotel at Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. Here she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the hotel’s taciturn gamekeeper. To Bandit, Wrea Head Hall is sanctuary, a place where he can come to terms with his dangerous past and be close to his elderly father. However, Bandit isn’t the only one guarding a secret. When Maddie discovers a diary belonging to a previous owner of the hall, she and Bandit must work together to uncover the truth. Liam was never going to allow Maddie to walk away from him, and becomes increasingly more desperate with every turn of the page as he tries to win her back. Will he succeed or will the secret revealed in the diary come to Maddie’s aid? If you only purchase one book this summer, I recommend you buy The House of Secrets.
Mystery and Romance. Perfect Combo. You could categorize the book as a Second Chance Novel with both the characters getting a second chance at love and family. House of Secrets is exactly what it is A House full of secrets and History. The book and the writing drew me in, from page one on wards, and kept me wanting to know more and more. Detailed descriptions that has painted every scene in my mind. I think the cover page could have been more. I am not sure more of what. But though it is a good cover. I think It could be better.
Fleeing from a controlling boyfriend, Madeline and her daughter finds sanctuary with her estranged father in a large sprawling hotel, called Wrea Head Hall. There she makes new friends, a new life for herself and begins to discover the secrets of the old building through the diary entries of an old journal. After Madeline’s escape, Stacey, the author, lulls you into thinking this is a gentle love story where a woman “finds herself”. However the tension slowly begins to build and the threads, so expertly inserted by the writer, comes together in a crescendo that keeps on going and will keep you turning the pages. This novel has a delicious mixture of contemporary, historical, mystery and thriller, but at its core is a budding romance that gently develops amongst the secrets and threats in Wrea Head Hall. A very enjoyable read that will make you want to visit the real hall in Yorkshire and discover some secrets for yourself.
I was sent an advance electronic copy of the novel for an unbiased, objective review from the publisher. I would like to thank both the publisher and the author for the privilege of reading and reviewing the book prior to launch. The first thing which struck me very keenly about this book by Lynda Stacey, a debut Yorkshire based writer, was the lovely individual voice in which she writes. In my opinion it's a refreshing and quite unique new voice that gives her an edge on many of today's first time writers. I'm sure it can only develop further as we see more of her work. The only minor niggle I had was that, just occasionally, I felt her voice got lost and it seemed to me that as a competition winner maybe the book had just been over edited in places.. The book is at its best where the author's voice shines through. Her style is easy to follow and read, and I cannot think of another author whose 'voice' is closely similar. I don't like to give away any spoilers in my reviews, but suffice to say that I was surprised by the start of the book given the cover, and I continued to be surprised throughout! I felt that all the characters were well honed and the hotel itself beautifully described. I would like to visit it one day as Lynda Stacey's novel has really piqued my interest. A must for all dark romantic suspense fans. I look forward to the author's next book.
I am a great fan of Choc Lit and was very excited when I received this from a new author. And this book has it all! Maddie escapes from her controlling partner and flees to her father's hotel with small daughter Poppy and puppy Buddy. She has a lot of work to do in rebuilding her relationship with her father and there she also meets Bandit - an ex marine - and their developing relationship is part of the story as well. So far so good. But then you have to add in the tension created by Liam, Maddie's ex, who will stop at nothing to get her back. And then, on top of it all there are the trips into the past and the mystery of Emily Ennis to resolve! Trying to resolve the mystery brings Maddie & Bandit closer and in the background Liam is always lurking. There is something for everyone in this remarkable book. Poppy & Buddy bring light relief and Poppy in the kitchen is wonderful! I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I shouted - all out loud - which, to me, is the sign of a brilliant book. When I become so immersed that I lose the real world completely. And that is what this book did. A lovely book - real people, feeling real things and acting in a believable way. Next one please! I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Full of suspense and mystery yet sexy and heart-warming; Lady Chatterley’s Lover meets Sleeping with the Enemy! When widow Madeleine Frost realises just what a threat her new partner, Liam O’Grady, is to herself and her three-year old daughter Poppy (plus their Springer Spaniel puppy Buddy) she knows she needs to get away from him. But where to go? Her mother has recently passed away, sister Jess’ one bedroom flat is too small so with little other option Maddie finds herself knocking at the door of her estranged father, Morris Pocklington. Recently widowed Morris welcomes his daughter with open arms, even if he is a little confused having received a letter from Maddie around the time his wife, Josie, passed away stating that Maddie never wanted anything to do with him again. Still, that doesn’t matter to Morris when he’s lonely and in need of help running his hotel, Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. Maddie, Poppy and Buddy settle quickly into the hotel and before long are getting to know its residents including the rugged game keeper, Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless; an ex-marine who grew up on the estate. When Maddie discovers an old diary belonging to a past resident during the second world war both Maddie and Bandit are intrigued. Immersing themselves in Emily Ennis’ love story with her sweetheart Eddie brings Maddie and Bandit closer together. But Liam isn’t finished with Maddie yet. He considers her to be his and will stop at nothing to have her. Literally nothing. When I began this novel I had no idea what a rollercoaster of a ride it was going to take me on. At first I thought it was going to be a contemporary romance, then I realised there was the welcome addition of a time slip and finally I realised there was a suspense developing too, encouraging me to turn the pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen next. For a debut novel Lynda Stacey has set the bar high. Her illustrious writing builds a clear picture of not only the beautiful setting of House of Secrets but also her characters. Liam has a manipulative, manic edge to his character which is cleverly written and not two-dimensional; you begin to understand this anti-hero, not forgive him but comprehend him. And Bandit, ohhh, Bandit. If you are fond of physically strong, sexy, assertive heroes then you won’t be disappointed! I would personally like to commend Lynda too. I lost out to her in the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition and I can see why. Her writing is compelling, her setting and characters are believable and she has cleverly weaved both suspense and a time slip story into a compelling, romantic read. Congratulations Lynda! Lx
'House of Secrets' definetly lives up to it name. It was full of suspense and action and even romances, which one is dark an twisted. The characters are colorful and intriguing.
I truly loved this story. I have had my nose buried in a book for the better part of 34 years and the plot to this book is one of my favorites. While I felt that conversation didn't always flow amongst the characters, they developed well and I loved all the ones I should and hated the one I shouldn't. Bringing in the past and tying it to the present was a stroke of genius and Lynda Stacey wove that cloth expertly. I've always wanted to find an old diary - tie that into hidden tunnels and forbidden young love and this story was just what I needed to end my weekend. Many thanks to Netgalley, Choc Lit, and Lynda Stacey for an advance copy of this book to review in exchange for an honest review. I'll be keeping an eye out for future books, Lynda!
House of Secrets, not only looked an interesting read but i really loved the cover too. Here we meet Madeline Frost, after losing her husband Michael in a car accident, Madeline was left to bring up their 3 year old daughter Poppy alone. Having met her current boyfriend Liam, Madeline is beginning to feel uncomfortable around him and doesnt like his controlling behaviour. When Liam starts to show a nasty side towards Poppy, and then finds him having sex with his boss in the hallway when he thought she was out, Madeline decides its time to leave Liam. But will it be that easy?. Madeline's sister Jess doesnt have room in her flat so Madeline's only option is to contact her dad, who she hasnt seen for years. With this being the only place she can think to go, Madeline arrives at Wrea Head Hall, which is a hotel run by her dad. Pleased to see their arrival, he welcomes them with open arms. It is here that Madeline meets the hotel handyman Bandit, he lives alone in the lodge house, that once belonged to his dad until he got too sick and needed to go into a nursing home. As Madeline and Bandit get to get to know each other and spend more time together, Madeleine begins to feel safe in his presence and trusts him fully with Poppy. They find a diary one day dating back to the 1940s, with this revealing many secrets and hidden tunnels throughout the hall. They then go on a mission to bring the diary to life and learn more about the people who were contained in the diary. Will Madeline finally be free of Liam and start to lead a normal life or will Liam return and cause more trouble for Madeline?. As he has a dark side which we uncover throughout. Its hard to believe this is Lynda Stacey's first book. I was captivated from the off. I fell in love with the charaters and had a feel about their life and backgrounds. There were a lot of tales to tell and it all just fitted and pieced in well. It had an air of history added to it by including the diary of Emily Ennis, although i am not that keen on history fiction, lynda added just enough to keep you intrigued and interested. Every page stood out to me as the book got more and more gripping. A lot is happening in this book and with lots of twists and turns, you wont want to put this down. I just had to get to the end. This also left me wanting to go and vist the 'real' Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire one day. I am looking forward to more from Lynda Stacey in the future.
Madeleine knows she has made the biggest mistake of her life moving in with Liam - he is totally unpredictable, controlling and cruel - but with no money and nowhere to live what choice did she have. She is determined that she has to leave him for the sake of her young daughter Poppy so when she catches him inflagrante with his boss she has the perfect excuse. She decides to get in touch with the father that she hasn't seen for years, due to the jealousy of her mother, and is welcomed with open arms to his hotel in a wonderful old gothic house. Suddenly life is good she is loving getting to know her father again and Poppy adores him and there is also a very handsome gamekeeper working for her father! Liam however does not accept that she has left - he has been obsessed with her since he was at school, although she does not remember him - and he is determined to win her back and no-one will get in his way. A great story, with the added bonus of a diary belonging to the old owner of the house giving the history of the lovely old building, plenty of action and memorable characters I will definitely be looking for more work by this author
A good debut novel, that is full of suspense and at the same time, is heart-warming. A beautiful cover which does its job of drawing you in and you are not disappointed with the story. The plot line has been done before but the author does do the whole thing justice and what you have is a really good read. I would recommend this to anyone.
House of Secrets has an intricate plot that is deceptively easy to read. Madeleine and her daughter Poppy have lived with Liam after Madeleine's beloved husband (Poppy's father) was killed. Liam's increasingly bizarre behaviour forces her to move, taking her daughter with her to take refuge with her father who lives in an old manor. But the continuous questions are: will Liam find her and if he does how far is he prepared to go to force her back home again. At the hotel Madeleine finds the diary of a former occupant of the manor house and shares the entries with Bandit (aka Christopher Lawless) who lives in the manor's gatehouse. They find (apart from their growing attraction) that they share much of the diary writer's experiences and later discover that the present is mirroring the past. I very much enjoyed this book. It is gripping, sometimes horrifying and other times sweet. I loved the way Poppy called Bandit Mr. Bang-it man. The main characters are so fully rounded you could expect to meet them (except you wouldn't want to meet Liam) and the plot contains so many layers that are all neatly tied up with a twist or two at the end. I thoroughly recommend it. I'd like to thank the publisher for allowing me to read this book via Netgalley.
This story involves various strands that are cleverly interwoven to produce a page-turning whole. There’s a modern day love story, suspense involving a chilling villain, and interplay between past and present dramas surrounding the occupants of a former manor house turned hotel, Wrea Head Hall. I loved this setting – it’s atmospheric and well described – and the suspense builds from a feeling of background threat to imminent life-and-death danger. A great debut.
House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey was a great book to fall into! She kept me entranced with strong characters, a strong plot, and a great setting. I liked how I felt like I was immediately immersed in the plot, with Maddie as her relationship with Liam quickly escalates to frightening. Maddie was at her most vulnerable when she met Liam, and their relationship quickly grew. Soon she and her daughter Poppy were living with Liam, but their situation was quickly becoming frightening and out of control. I really liked Maddie. It was easy to forget how young she really is in House of Secrets because she is such a mature character who has been through a lot. Her character is well defined and is an admirable, very likable heroine. She is scared and not sure where to turn, but she does what she knows she needs to do while she still can. Maddie's daughter Poppy is an integral part of the plot, because without her I think things might have turned out a lot differently for Maddie. Poppy is a great example of how children can be such good judges of character...not only with Liam, but with other characters in House of Secrets. "Bandit" is a strong character also. A former marine, he hides a lot, and suffers as well. I loved how Bandit and Maddie first meet, and I really liked watching a relationship between the two of them grow. That relationship encompasses a lot more than just the two of them, and I liked how everything and everyone was woven together from past to present. But even as Maddie and Poppy are moving on, Liam just can't let go. There is a lot about him that Maddie doesn't know, and Lynda Stacey did a great job of building tension through out the plot. I liked how she wrote Liam's character. It was suspenseful with a lot of unknowns, and without being too graphic, Lynda did a great job of keeping me nervously on edge. House of Secrets is filled with emotion. I was entertained, but I could also feel the tension, the love, the hope, the fear, and sometimes just overwhelming sadness. Family dynamics and the past play a huge role in House of Secrets, and I liked how this was done. I might have liked to know a bit more about Maddie's mother and those circumstances, but that did not take away from the plot for me. House of Secrets flows at a great pace that kept me glued to the pages. I found it intriguing and exciting. There is a little of something for everyone in House of Secrets...women's fiction, romance, and suspense. I'd highly recommend House of Secrets to any reader who enjoys any of those! https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1704656908?book_show_action=false https://www.amazon.com/review/R144BNYB90HYK/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm http://suespeaces.blogspot.ca/2016/07/review-house-of-secrets-by-lynda-stacey.html B & N: My_Peace Tweeted: @my_peace Kobo: Sue P google plus: sue peace https://www.facebook.com/MyPeaces/
Madeleine knows she should leave Liam as soon as she can. Her daughter Poppy is everything to her and Liam is a mean bully. He was sweet before they moved in with him, but he changed as soon as he had them with him the entire time. Madeleine doesn't have anywhere to go though, but getting away from him is the most important thing there is. Her sister Jess lives in a one bedroom apartment, which is too small for the three of them. Madeleine has no choice but to ask her father if she and Poppy can live with him. She hasn't seen him in years, but her father is happy to have them and in exchange for their stay Madeleine promises him to work in his hotel. Madeleine thinks she and Poppy are safe at her father's hall and she immediately notices the change in her daughter. Poppy can be a happy carefree child again. Everyone at the hotel is welcoming and Madeleine immediately feels like they're part of a big family. She spends a lot of time with Bandit, the gamekeeper. They find an old diary and learn something about the history of the family that used to live in the hall. While Madeleine tries to make a new start Liam is doing everything he can to get her back and he's willing to do anything to get what he desires... House of Secrets is a gripping novel that kept me on the edge of my seat for several hours. It's obvious from the start that Liam can't be trusted. While there's relief at first that Madeleine managed to get away from him that feeling soon turns into fear. Lynda Stacey has written a creepy story that will haunt my dreams for a very long time. At the same time there's also a wonderful romantic aspect. Lynda Stacey's descriptions of both parts are equally good and I really liked to read her versatile story. House of Secrets is a book about loss, secrets, old houses, traumas and grief together with love, friendship, forgiveness, happiness and joy. I liked that combination very much. I immediately loved all the main characters except one, Liam is truly terrifying. Lynda Stacey's compelling writing style and fast-paced story made me fly through the pages. She's in control of the suspense and knows exactly when to deliver cliffhangers, that are always followed by calmer scenes, which made me want to keep on reading as quickly as I could. I absolutely loved this scary story and recommend it to anyone who likes to read romantic suspense.
This is more than a love story, though with the sexy Bandit in the hero role, it is certainly that. It's also part mystery, part thriller, with beautifully drawn characters set mainly in the house on the cover. I thoroughly enjoyed it and find it hard to believe this is the author's debut book.
Hard to believe that this is a debut novel as the characters and pace are spot-on! The suspense builds through the book as Maddie's controlling boyfriend refuses to let her go. Even so, the depths to which he sank quite shocked me at the end but you'll have to read it yourself to find out why! I loved the descriptions of Wrea Head Hall and Maddie's daughter is a sweetheart. Just add in an ex-military hero and the mix is pretty much perfect. A great book.
Writer Madeleine Frost thought she had found that special someone and a new beginning after the tragic loss of her husband in a car crash. But recently her partner Liam has been behaving strangely with mood swings which trigger controlling and aggressive behaviour especially towards her small daughter Poppy. After finding him in a compromising situation with his female boss, Madeleine decides to leave him. But the only place she can find safety for herself and Poppy to is Wrea Head Hall, a hotel run by her father, a man she hasn’t seen for years. Her father is delighted to see his long lost daughter and is pleased to have Madeleine and Poppy stay with him. One of the first people Madeleine meets is Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, the hotel’s handyman. Ex-marine Bandit lives in the lodge house, once the home of his father who is now in care. An Afghanistan veteran haunted by his own loss, his first unfortunate encounter with Madeleine is soon brushed aside as the two start to get to know each other. Madeleine begins to relax and feel safe, hoping she can make a new life with her daughter at the hotel. But when tragedy strikes and Liam turns up again she realises her nightmare is far from over. Lynda has written an entertaining debut novel with some unforgettable characters. There is romance between Madeleine and Bandit as well as light hearted moments between Poppy and the hotel’s cook Nomsa. Drama and suspense are provided by the thoroughly unpleasant Liam. Why won’t he let Madeleine go and what exactly are behind the locked doors in his house? Woven through this modern day story is a link with the past; the diary of Emily Ennis, whose family once owned Wrea Head Hall. When Bandit and Madeleine discover it and begin to read about her tragic love affair it takes them on a journey that will eventually link the past with the present. A hugely enjoyable read. I look forward to more from Lynda…
Madeleine knows she should leave Liam as soon as she can. Her daughter Poppy is everything to her and Liam is a mean bully,It is part mystery, part thriller as well as a romance, House of Secrets is a gripping novel that kept me on the edge of my seat it is one i really enjoyed. a fab debut
In House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey, Madeline Frost is on the run from her abusive partner Liam. When they were first dating Liam was kind, loving, thoughtful man who seemed to adore Maddie’s daughter Poppy. Now he has become controlling, angry, and hateful towards both Maddie and more so towards Poppy. Madeline knows that this cant continue and with the help of her sister Jess she flees to the only person who can help her, her estranged father and Wrea Head Hall. Wrea Head Hall is a beautifully restored hotel in Yorkshire owned by her father. What follows is not just a usual love story. Although you know from the beginning of the book who the villain is, there are still twists, turns, and murders that keep surprising the reader. Throw in an old diary found with past secrets and you’ve got more to discover. The character of Liam is so evil he sets the reader on edge. He unusual habits have you questioning his past and his sanity. Poppy’s character adds a spark of lightness to the story and Bandit’s character is just the right mixture of romantic hero and wounded warrior. The action of the story keeps you reading as the tension builds and rushes you toward the ending, even if it’s late at night. This is a surprisingly good book that kept me reading from the beginning until finishing late at night. For a first time novel by a new writer, I’ll be looking for more to come I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Choc. Lit. in return for a fair and honest review.
This book really had a mix of everything and I wasn't expecting that at all! Thought it was just going to be a thriller, but it had elements of mystery, historical, romance and the darker side of human behaviour too and it all combined beautifully to keep me excited, scared, intrigued and hooked right to the end! The story revolves around Madeleine and her daughter Poppy. She's had an awful time as Poppys dad died 9 days before she was born, so she has always been on her own with Poppy struggling. But Liam came along at the right time to 'rescue' them and it felt like a safe option for Madeleine to move in with him. But his personality soon changed when they did, and she now is in constant fear as he is extremely controlling and threatening. Soon she is pushed and has no other option but to leave, so she gets in contact with her father who she hasn't seen much over the years as her mother stopped all access, but he's been eager to have contact with his daughter and granddaughter. they move in with him at the hotel he runs and life starts to become normal for them all again, and safe! They soon settle into their new lives and the world seems a happier place for them all, but you always get the feeling that Liam isn't ready to give up that quickly on Madeleine who he's been obsessed with since school. And reading the book you find out just how scary a character he is, and what lengths he will go to, to get her back in his life. The pace of the book worked so well as it built up the tension slowly and then was breathless towards the end. The mix of characters worked extremely well together and added to the suspense as you waited to see what was in store for them all next on Liams' path to get back what he thought was his. Really looking forward to reading more from this author and highly recommend this book for those who like a little bit of everything in one story!
We've read this story before, framed differently, but the basics are familiar. That said, Stacey has done a good job with her characters- especially Maddie and Poppy but also "Bandit." Liam's type is not new be sure but that doesn't make him any less menacing. Stacey has a nice touch in balancing the bad with the good and thrown in some interesting history as well. THanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
With huge thanks to the author for allowing us a copy of this book in exchange for a review. I saw Lynda tweeting about this book and was caught by the description, so was thrilled to be able to review. In House of Secrets we meet Madeline (Maddie) Frost, currently living with her boyfriend Liam, but it’s clear from the start of the novel that Liam’s behaviour is not normal. One minute he is sweetness and light and the next he is angry and threatening. Maddie recognises that Liam was there at a time when she needed him, following the tragic death of her husband, but his behaviour is affecting her young daughter and she knows she needs to leave him. Maddie’s decision is made when she is home unexpected and catches Liam cheating on her. Although she doesn’t have many places to go Maddie finds herself turning to her estranged father who runs a hotel for help and there she finds time to heal the gaps in her relationship with her dad and make new friends. But Liam is determined to win her back at any cost. Whilst at the hotel Maddie uncovers a diary belonging to the former mistress of the house and in it a love story against all the odds, that speaks of secret meetings and tunnels in the hotel. Along with new friend Bandit she is determined to locate the secrets hidden within the hotel. A very cleverly written story that intersects a love story from the past with one in the present without confusing the reader. The diary entries gave the book another layer to keep the readers interest held. As well as this is the pyschological element of Liam’s unstable behaviour, which keeps you wondering just how he is going to act next and how far he has gone and is going to go to keep Maddie. His acts at times are totally chilling, so much so that towards the end you really do feel unsettled yourself. A wonderful read and I look forward to more from this author soon I hope!
Anyone who knows me, or follows my blog, knows that contrary to the old phrase "You can't judge a book by its cover", I often do. I love covers, and this one called out to me. Then, when I read that the book was set in a huge country house in Yorkshire, my fate was sealed. Madeleine has had a life filled with loss. Her mother, then her beloved husband, Michael have all died. She is vulnerable and when Liam enters her life she is susceptible to his Irish charm and good looks. (I pictured the character of Ciaran McCarthy from Coronation Street) Little does she know that when she and her three-year-old daughter, Poppy, move in with him, her life will change irrevocably for the worse. Liam is a possessive, cruel, volatile, controlling bully. After only a few months she is driven to leave him, fearing for her daughter's and her own emotional health. A novelist, with income only when she receives an advance from her publisher's, she has little choice but to run to the father she barely knows. Her mother had led her to believe that he didn't want her in his life, but nothing could be farther from the truth. He welcomes Madeleine and his granddaughter Poppy into his home with open arms. And what a home! Madeleine's father owns and runs Wrea Head Hall, a country house hotel in Yorkshire. There Madeleine meets many wonderful people who nurture her and her daughter as much as they do the old house. After a few short days, she faces loss in her life once again... With the aid of her half-sister Jess, and the wonderful people who live at the Hall, she is left reeling with the knowledge that she is now the owner manager of the fantastic house. And, of course, there is Madeleine's new love interest. The gameskeeper/handyman of the Hall is Christopher Lawless (nicknamed Bandit), an ex-marine, who has strong family ties to the hall and shows more than a passing interest in Maddie and Poppy. Madeleine and Bandit find an old diary written by the daughter of Wrea Head Hall. She writes about what life at the Hall was like for her in 1942. The entries of this diary are interspersed throughout the novel. Her diary mentions aspects of the house that Maddie and Bandit did not previously know. The pace of this debut novel moved along well, and the setting was spectacular. I'm not usual a fan of romantic fiction, but this one did have enough of the suspenseful elements that it maintained my interest throughout, even though I found the plot quite predictable with any twists there might be, unsurprising, at least to me. I cringe sometimes when a romance story makes the heroine just a little bit two unaware. Madeleine was unaware that Liam was a monster, unaware that she was falling for Bandit, unaware of the many coincidences and clues that she should have picked up on... Yes, I guess you know, I'm not a huge fan of romance. But as I mentioned, this one did hold my interest to the end. I guess I just wanted to read the 'happily ever after' for myself. Thus, I'm rating this debut romantic suspense novel quite highly. The reason being that I believe (from my many years of working in a public library) that this book will be very well received by readers who enjoy romantic fiction. It had a trace of a 'Harlequin' feel, but that was laced with enough suspense that it was lifted up from the everyday romance. The historical diary entries added enough respite from the current day narrative to add extra interest. It was an entertaining and easy read. Thanks to Choc Lit via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in consideration of a review. My rating is 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 for NetGalley)
A very engaging story. Ms Stacey creates an exciting story involving the twists and turns of relationships all set within a grand house in East Yorkshire. The drama is heightened by the devious and unhinged mind of Maddie's ex lover who is keen on destroying not only her but those she loves. The inclusion of a WWII diary adds another dimension to the plot. With wonderful descriptions, this author's debut novel is highly recommended.
A beautiful tale of love and survival, ‘House of Secrets’ really strikes at the heart and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat one moment, and tearing up the next. Maddie’s story is heartbreaking, and sadly all to recognisable in today’s society. In an emotionally abusive relationship, whilst desperately trying to keep her family life together for the sake of her young daughter, when push-comes-to-shove she takes the chance and seeks out her long-absent father for a home and protection. I adored Maddie’s character. Her inner strength was inspiring, and to see how much she had been manipulated through her life, yet how strong she remained for her daughter really made me respect her, and long to finish her story alongside her. Her relationship with Bandit was perfectly depicted and I loved the slow-burn, but also respectful nature of their friendship that turned to romance, a huge departure from her relationship with Liam. With some fantastic secondary characters, like Maddie’s sister and daughter, the brilliant staff at the Hall who all rally alongside each other, this was at times funny, sad and scary. A great mix in my opinion. However, I did feel that there was too many storylines going on at times. I adored each separate storyline; Maddie’s escape to her father’s hotel; Liam’s continued psychotic spiral; the tale from the past of a love pulled apart by war and station, but in some ways I felt that I didn’t need the World War tale in the background, as it didn’t add much to Maddie’s story. Nevertheless, I thorougly enjoyed this story, and will be eagerly awaiting the next book from Lynda Stacey! 4 Stars!
This book is brilliant and has everything; death, reconciliation, murder, lost diaries, secret tunnels and romance. Whew! Its jam packed. I couldn't put it down. Young widow Madeline and her daughter Poppy move to Wrea Head Hall. It is owned by Madeline's father Michael with whom she has just reconciled. She has just ended a bad relationship with partner Liam. Michael dies suddenly and Madeline has to run the hotel. She falls in love with the gamekeeper Bandit however Liam comes back into their lives and just won't leave! Wow!