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Review by Suze
Madeleine is the mother of the young and adorable three year old Poppy. Poppy’s dad Michael and Madeleine were childhood sweethearts, but he died before he could meet his daughter. Madeleine’s new boyfriend Liam does not seem to like Poppy and is very controlling of Madeleine. With the help of her sister, Jess, Madeleine contacts her estranged dad, Morris Pocklington, hotel owner of Wrea Head Hall, and arranges to live there. She starts to build a bond with her dad and the members of staff at the hall. Unfortunately things do not run smooth and scary things happen to upset the balance of such a lovely place.
The characters in this book, be them good or bad, really add to the story and you can’t help but fall in love with a few of them. I think Mr Bandit is one of my favourite characters, he is so caring and faithful to those who are important to him. His background in military makes him a strong man, but with weaknesses, which makes him vulnerable in some situations. Of course Poppy is another character you can’t help but like. Madeleine shocks me in how strong she is throughout the book and she is one brave lady.
Although House of Secrets has some very dark parts I think the good and the happy outweigh the bad. I think that Poppy adds to the balance as she seems to be able to lighten the atmosphere with her adorable sayings and knowing ways. She's often inadvertently giving away little secrets, which made me chuckle many times.
There are many things I liked about House of Secrets. I really enjoyed the diaries. They're adding another element to the story and are revealing parts of the Hall that others did not know existed. There are also interesting characters and situations that happened in the past. Of course the title House of Secrets is very clever, but it isn't something you quite see until the end. As the reader you guess part of the story, but certainly do not guess it all and there is still a mystery there. I loved the surprising ending and think House of Secrets is a book worth reading.
1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Good morning . I'm Lynda, I'm 48 years old. I'm a wife, and grandmother. I've always worked and have held positions as a nurse, a lab technician, a delivery driver, a sales person and as a Scuba Diving Instructor and yes... I did dive with sharks. Lots of them, without a cage. My debut novel 'House of Secrets' was published in July, and I'm also the Sales Director of a stationery and office supplies company in Doncaster. So, most of the time, I'm really busy and you'd probably see me running from one job to another, normally with a sandwich in my hand (because I never have time to sit and eat properly).
2) You’ve written a gripping story about a creepy topic. What inspired you to write about a man like Liam?
You could say that I've met lots of men like this. I was married to my first husband for three years. He was the most wonderful man, until I married him and he seemed to change over night, becoming just a little more than volatile and if I'm honest I spent most of that three years fearing for my life.
3) You write romantic suspense, what do you like so much about the genre?
Life has taught me to expect the unexpected. I really believe that if you grow up, get married and live happily ever after, then you are part of a minority. Most people's lives are not like that. Most have problems along the way and most have times in their life that they'd rather forget. But as for the genre, I like suspense, I like curling up in a ball, hiding behind a pillow and waiting for something to happen while the adrenaline rushes around your body. You probably wouldn't expect anything less from someone who willingly jumped in the sea, knowing that there were sharks below the boat... did you?
4) Most of your story is set in the present, but there’s also a part about the past, what fascinates you so much about that? And what’s your favourite time to read/write about?
Wrea Head hall inspired me to write about the past. The hall has so much history in it, which includes a former family. And the minute I walked in to the hotel, I could feel the history as it seeped out of the walls at me. I felt that the old and new worked well together and gave the story more purpose. I did however choose to use a fictional family, due to the fact that family members still lived close to the hall, and the last thing I wanted was to get a part of the history wrong and offend someone.
5) Can you describe the main characters of House of Secrets in five words each?
Five words each... wow..!
Madeleine: A woman on the run.... Bandit: Gorgeous, but broken by war.... Liam: Obsessed and needs to control... Poppy: Adorable and easy to love...
6) What inspired you to write about an old diary?
I wanted to bring the previous owners back to the hall, to hear the love story of Emily Ennis and to bring both stories together at the end. The diary was the only way I could do it.
7) What does your writing routine look like?
My writing can't possibly be called a routine... it's sporadic. I do it when and if I can.
8) You’ve had a lot of different jobs, what is the best thing about having so many experiences and what’s the most memorable moment of your career?
Every job gave me a different experience and lots of memorable ones too. If I had to choose one memorable moment, it would be when an autistic man came to my and asked me to teach him to scuba dive. He'd been to three other schools. They'd all taken his money and then when he hadn't fallen into the plan easily, he'd been told to go away or to pay more money. Yes, he was more difficult to teach, but I picked up the gauntlet and the best and most memorable experience for me is when, underwater, I wrote on a white board that he'd passed his open water course. I could feel tears filling my eyes and my mask began to steam up. He now dives all over the world.
9) What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given and the best advice you’ve given to anyone else?
ALWAYS get your work edited. Never try to publish without an edit and get someone you trust (not a family member) to critique your work. it has to be someone who can be VERY honest.
10) What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to stay with Choc Lit. I'm a very loyal person and Lyn and the team there have been very good to me. I'm hoping to bring out another book next year and a sequel to House of Secrets, which I'm writing at the moment.
One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a kindle copy of House of Secrets.
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