Title: Secrets [Guardian Trilogy 1]
Author: Liz Schulte
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Description/Synopsis: While Olivia Martin observed life through her camera, the Abyss gazed back at her. Mysterious men follow her around, people close to her are dying, and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved.
WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW
This is one of those books where I really wish I hadn't read any reviews before I read the book. I -rarely- listen to other reviews, but when I do I have this tendency to focus on the negative ones. Why? Because usually I find they're the most honest (though not always). In this case, I couldn't disagree more with the negative reviews, but I realize that not everyone will share my opinion.
I think in a lot of ways Secrets is a really good paranormal romance. It manages to do something that not a lot of books in its genre do: it keeps the paranormal part of the book secret until really far into the story. I really appreciated the fact that as I was reading, I knew there was something paranormal going on, but it wasn't until more than 2/3 in that I realized what kind of paranormal it was. Was the book epic and mind-blowing? No. Not really, and there were a few editing mistakes that should have been cleaned up in the first draft... but it was a very good book, and it managed to do a couple of things that I almost always base my good ratings on.
First, the characters were full of depth. Yes, I wish I had gotten to learn more about the histories of the characters, especially Holden, but despite the lack of explanation of his background, I found all of the characters had unique personalities, and they portrayed a lot of emotions without being horribly angsty. I can appreciate that. On the flipside, however, I do think the author had a bit of trouble differentiating the gender of the different voices in this novel. Maybe it's because the story was written in first person, and maybe it's just because the author isn't great at creating unique voices, but I'll admit that sometimes Holden narrated like a girl. I can't really explain the difference between how a male and a female character sound different when narrating, but you can almost always tell the difference when you read them. In this case, it was hard to figure out who was speaking until you ran across a name or the actions betrayed who they were.
Second, I think the author did a spectacular job of portraying the romance and attraction between Holden and Olivia. It was clear they loved each other, and it was clear that there were a lot of obstacles in their way. The two characters fought with themselves as well with each other, but their attraction always won out in the end and thank goodness, they were both willing to sacrifice for the sake of each other. I have to tell you, I was really surprised by the ending. I didn't think Holden had it in him to shoot Olivia - and was quite startled when he did even though clearly it had been an option for a long time. On the one hand, I was really upset with him for shooting her but, on the other hand, I think it was a perfect tragic end. He needed to shoot her in order to show just how much he really did love her; it really locked in their relationship for me.
I also really liked the twist of the mythos in this book. There are a lot of demon and angel stories, but rarely are they pulled off in such a unique way, and so convincingly. It didn't feel like this was another angsty-demon superior-goody-two-shoes-angel story.Whatever their labels, it was very clear that they were solid people to me. Whether they were good or evil was a side note, and very much a Whatever their labels, it was very clear that they were solid people to me. Whether they were good or evil was a side note, and very much a grey area between them. That balance in character where an evil character can do good things and a good character can do bad things is something a lot of authors skim over, and I thought the author did a wonderful job of balancing their personalities and actions.
I do have to say that one thing I didn't absolutely love was the way the chapters were set up. There'd be one chapter from Olivia, and then the same chapter from Holden's point of view. While it was interesting to see how the scenes played out from both character's side of the story, in Holden's case, because his chapter always followed Olivia, a lot of the time we were re-hashing the same scene and skimming over the same conversations got rather repetitive. Did that stop me from reading the book? No, but it did bother me at times.
Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed the book. There were some things that maybe weren't handled the best way, but in the grand scheme of things, that didn't keep me from enjoying the book. I was engaged, and I read through it without feeling the need to put the book down and do something else. If an author keeps my interest, then they've won me over. Despite the fact I gave this book 4 stars, I have already added the second and third book to my wishlist, and fully intend to read them both. I'm hooked.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes paranormal romance or fantasy with a little bit of mystery thrown in. Right now it's FREE on Amazon, so grab it while you can. You have nothing to lose.