Secrets and Lies by Susanne Matthews
Publisher & Release Date: Self-Published, November 16, 2015
Time and setting: Present Day, Braden, Iowa
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Length: 340 pages
Heat Level: 1 Sweet Heart
Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns
DEA agent, Emily Shepherd, is after the Chef, a crystal meth cook, who sets up labs for the Mexican cartel and walks away—the same man responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Her search leads her to Braden, Iowa, a small town just right for the Chef’s specialty. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy when she’s up against a woman who sees her as a threat, a male chauvinistic deputy sheriff, and an attractive school principal who might just be at the center of it all.
Jackson Harris has sworn off women. Life is satisfactory, if lonely until he meets a hazel-eyed damsel in distress who gets under his skin, and triggers that protective instinct of his. There's a killer in town, one who may or may not be a notorious drug lord. Finding him, and keeping his town, his students, and Emily safe may be harder than he thinks.
Love is breaking out in Braden, Iowa. Follow all the romance with this collection of stories. Secrets and Lies is part of the Hearts of Braden Series, a multi-author series Secrets and Lies stands alone for your reading enjoyment, but the story doesn't need to end there.
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Once I read one of Susanne Matthews’ books, I was hooked. Her writing style flows beautifully across the page, her pacing is always superb. She pulls me into the story from the beginning and hold me enthralled until the last. When I received a request from the author to read Secrets and Lies in exchange for an honest review, I immediately accepted. As always, this book had me sitting on the edge of my seat at times and pulled at my heart strings.
DEA agent, Emily Jacobson Shepherd goes undercover to find the Meth cooker, known as the chef. It's reported that he is setting up operations in Braden, Iowa. Emily and the chef go way back. He was responsible for the death of her husband and her unborn child, along with coming close to taking her life as well, leaving her permanently disabled.
When Jackson Harris comes to the aid of a young woman, little does he know she’s the nutritionist sent to implement the Healthy Living Initiative for his school. The attraction is fierce between them, but when murders start happening, he wonders if he can protect the woman he is falling in love with, or will the chef get to her first?
I really liked Emily’s character from the start. Her tragic backstory, which Ms. Matthews expertly weaves into Secrets and Lies, gains my empathy right away. She is a strong woman, determined to bring down the chef at all costs. She does not let the loss she suffered that left her crippled to keep her from accomplishing her goal. Ms. Matthews writing is so moving, it brought tears to my eyes when I learned what had happened to her and her family.
Jackson is a great hero. He’s strong, good looking, determined to protect his school and loyal to his friends. Even though Emily tries to keep him at arm’s length, he burrows his way under her defenses. Although he has good reason to be leery of secretive women, he looks below the surface to the loving and caring woman Emily is, and he is determined to earn her trust.
I truly loved Secret and Lies. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is a little stronger finish. While is does have a happy ending, it felt a bit rushed to me. However, the rest of the book is so strong, it deserves a great rating. If you enjoy stories with intrigue and suspense with a bit of a mystery, then you will love this book. Happy reading!