Review: Best Kept Secrets
BEST KEPT SECRETS - Shelly Ellis
Kensington Dafina/Fiction
PRINT | EBOOK
September 2015
MAINSTREAM FICTION
REVIEWER:  Susan Plummer | RATING: A
REVIEW: In the first installation of the Chesterton Scandal series by Shelly Ellis, BEST KEPT SECRETS, Chesterton is a town where money and power can buy silence and suppress secrets but some secrets are just too explosive to contain.

Leila Hawkins broke Evan Murdoch’s heart when she disregarded his feelings and married another man. Now she’s back looking for a handout but Evan refuses to give her a penny unless she earns it as his mistress. They once meant something special to each other and maybe can again if Evan finds it in his heart to forgive. Evan is also head of the Murdoch Empire and on the surface he has the perfect life and the perfect wife but she is cheating right under his nose. Thankfully, he has the support of his two brothers but truth be told, one of them wants to see Evan lose everything. Paulette is a young bride looking forward to a happy marriage and children in the near future but when an ex reappears and threatens to unearth her darkest secrets, she is pulled into a rabbit-hole of debauchery and blackmail. There are some happy endings for the residents of Chesterton but only after much hardship. Ellis perfectly weaves in scandalous subplots between a heartfelt main plot; leading to a riveting and complex tale from beginning to end.

Evan is somewhat hypocritical for berating Leila about her poor choice in marrying a con artist because at least she did so innocently. He, on the other hand, chose a wife based chiefly on her “pedigree.” Unfortunately, they now live with the results of those decisions. Time puts things into perspective and they have a second chance to get it right. It would be remiss not to comment on other central characters such as Paulette whose story plays out in alarming clarity and Dante whose treachery knows no bounds. All these and more characters contribute to what is quite a page-turner.

Ellis fans are transported back to Chesterton, VA once again to this town with its realistic residents and their unforgettable stories. Dialogue is a focal point of the novel and nearly every moment is sure to hold readers rapt. Leila and Evan’s share several impassioned exchanges, Paulette’s mercurial behavior is saddening and Dante’s convincing but conniving behavior is applause worthy.

Best Kept Secrets is an entertaining non-stop ride of unexpected twists and turns. If I had one critique it would be that while Evan and Leila’s story held its own, there were times Paulette’s nightmarish situation overshadowed their story. BED OF LIES coming in May 2016 tells Terrence’s story and hopefully brings closure to Paulette’s as well.

26th September 2015 | romcol@caribsurf.com