Lynda Stacey delivers with House of Secrets, combining mystery, romance and enough perfectly timed psychological twists to keep you glued to the pages. Interspersed with quieter moments where we grow to know the characters, the pacing was spot on. In a nutshell, after the death of her husband Madeline falls too easily into a relationship with Liam, a man who is sweetness and light on the surface, underneath a manipulative control freak. Alarm bells are already ringing for Maddie, when the scales are finally peeled painfully from her eyes. Realising she’s in an abusive relationship which is detrimental to her little girl, Poppy, Maddie has to escape it. Her only safe harbour is back home to Wrea Hall, a hotel run by her estranged father, who welcomes her arrival.
Soon Poppy begins to blossom and be the girl she used to be. Throw into the mix ex-marine and handyman, Bandit, whose vulnerability is reflected in his backstory and who is instinctively protective of Maddie, and things could be on the up. Liam, though, a man we definitely love to hate, isn’t going to give up easily and allow Maddie her happy ending.
The historical element introduced here, when Maddie uncovers diaries written by a former mistress of Wrea Hall, lends and intriguing new dimension to the story. The diaries tell of secret tunnels and love that conquers, and draw an interesting parallel from the past to the present. While Maddie and Bandit are determined to resolve the mystery of the diaries, growing closer in the process, we have unbalanced Liam lurking in the shadows, prepared to go to any unimaginable lengths to get Maddie back.
Romance, intrigue, chills and thrills make House of Secrets a riveting read. I loved it.