In the set of prequel novellas for the Secrets and Shadows series, this is the third and final one. It brings all the secrets into the open regarding Nichole Bell’s disappearance and is the story of Chris Bell, the youngest sibling and Guy Miller, the boy next door who has always loved her though she pushed him firmly into the friend category.
This third story gives the closure of Nichole Bell’s death with a culprit and a memorial and allows the family to truly grieve her loss. Chris has her own way of dealing with things and they involve Guy. Her disabilities of dyslexia and ADHD and depression make focus difficult so her thoughts flit around and never land, but being around Guy is calming and stills the white noise in her head. They were together once and she pushed him away afterward and relegated him to best friend status now she needs him again and he gives that to her, but he wants her to realize that he won’t be pushed away or treated like a regret.
Guy feels guilt over the way it is his evil parent that wrecked and ruined the lives of those he loves the most. Many in town don’t think he has the right to grieve at the memorial for Nichole and her family should feel that way, but they don’t. They accept him as they have always done. Chris even turns to him for support and care though her reminders of ‘bestfriend’ Guy hurt because he would love to be so much more. And he thinks he has a shot at it until the very thing he knows he can give the Bells and the thing they most need will be the wedge that will drive him away from Chris when she finds out his part. But he will do anything for her even sacrificing the chance to be with her.
As the series of novellas has progressed, I have grown a bit more restless with each new Bell sibling’s romantic encounter. They all have the same hang-ups and pull the same stunts with the people who love them. They all use- yes use their love interests. I tried to see where they were coming from- grief, heartache, pain, fear of loss, etc., but in the end, it doesn’t excuse holding people at arm’s length emotionally while using them for sexual release and then denying with all their might that there is something there between them.
Maybe its because Chris was the last of three to do it or maybe its because Guy had it worse than anyone (verbal, emotional, and physical abuse from a parent that was so bad it put him in the hospital and then learning the scum bag was responsible for the death of the woman he looked on as a mother) and I didn’t see him acting that way nor liked seeing him being used after all he went through, but I was just done with it by this point. I enjoyed the suspense side and I was engaged in the overall story, but Chris and her ‘push you away until I need you’ crap just made me mad.
So, I will continue with the series into the first novel-length story and a new suspense plot, but if I see the same behavior in one of the romantic leads, I’ll probably quit the series. Broken people that have character flaws aren’t the problem, but self-absorbed users types are not my idea of escape reading. Okay, well I can’t just leave it at that. The truth is that I enjoyed meeting the next book’s main characters in Tate’s story so I’m looking forward to a romantic suspense with them in it.