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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Review & Guest Post - Secrets We Keep by Faith Hogan

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Review by Suze

Kate has distant relatives in Ballytokeep. She's tired of her prestigious job in London and needs a break. She stays with Iris and Archie. Iris is her grandmother's sister and Archie is her husband. They're the only family Kate has left. They make her feel welcome and being near the beach does Kate a world of good. She finally has the chance to think about her life. She'd like to start over, to finally heal after having a broken heart for ten years. However, can she really let go of the past or does it still influence her, even when she's in Ballytokeep?
Rockstar Todd is at a crossroads. He's getting a little too old for his lifestyle and his friends are all married. Is it time for him to settle down as well or can he still live the life he's given up everything for and party and drink as much as in the early days of his career? Ballytokeep keeps attracting him and he's thinking about staying there for a while. Would that be a wise choice?
Iris led a turbulent life. She's now the owner of a lovely hotel and she and Archie are happy together. Her past was difficult and filled with tragedy, but she also found love and companionship. Fortunately she has Archie, who is the kindest man she's ever met. Archie isn't as fit as he used to be anymore. How long can they still run their hotel together? Kate is a welcome surprise, maybe she can bring back some light into their lives again.
Secrets We Keep is a beautiful story set in both the past and the present. I equally enjoyed reading about Iris, Kate and Todd. Faith Hogan's characters are fascinating and she kept surprising me with unexpected twists and turns in their lives, which captivated me straight away. I read the book in one sitting and couldn't put it down. I was too engrossed in the secrets of the past and the tragedies and victories of the present, which are all very interesting.
Iris is an adventurous person. She's talented and smart and she follows her heart. Her impulsiveness leads to trouble, but it also helps her to find the most wonderful thing there is. Kate is a sweetheart. She works hard for others and doesn't have much of a life. It's time to change that and when she discovers Ballytokeep's old Bath House she falls in love immediately. I couldn't wait to find out where that would lead. Todd is a rock star in every possible way. He likes the parties, the drinks, the girls and being admired, but he isn't as vigorous as he used to be. Maybe it's time to reflect and to overthink the mistakes he's made in the past. I loved the growth in his personality and enjoyed the changes in the way he sees Kate. Kate finds more in Ballytokeep in a few months than she has found in years in London and that's mainly due to the people she meets. The main characters are terrific and together they make Secrets We Keep intriguing and complete.
Ballytokeep is a stunning setting. Faith Hogan describes it in a fabulously thorough and vivid way. I fell in love with the place straight away and could imagine why the main characters never wanted to leave again. BallytoKeep is a place with a personality and I found that absolutely fantastic. There are many secrets and Faith Hogan expertly creates tension, which she releases in small dosages. Her writing style is gripping and I like that even though her story does contain plenty of highs and lows her tone of voice remains relatively light, so that the story gets a good balance. I highly recommend this amazing book. 

About Faith Hogan
I was born in Ireland and live still in the west of Ireland with my husband, four children and overweight cat. I gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. I have worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
I was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.
My debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It was published in May 2016 by Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus). My second Novel 'Secrets We Keep' is out in February 2017. It's set in the west of Ireland. A story of two women and how they find love when and where they least expect to.  

Rock Castle and the secrets it Keeps!

Faith Hogan talks about happy accidents and her love of things that tell a story....

I love old things – always have. It’s more than the fact that they hold within them secrets that we may never know. I think their allure for me is their connection with the past. The older the better – I have a desk in my office – a gift from my honeymoon – its age is indeterminate. To be honest it’s proportions are such that I don’t really use it very much apart from holding copy and printing supplies and of course a kettle and mugs but I love it. Apart from the fact that it reminds me of a little antique shop we spent almost a full afternoon in, it fires my imagination with notions of who may have sat at it before me. What did they write? What did they dream of?

Secrets We Keep has at its centre an old Bath House, lying derelict for many years and in many ways it’s revival mirrors the recovery of one of the lead characters – Kate. But there is another old building in the story also.

Rock Castle overlooks the bath house – it mirrors and shadows it throughout the story. It too is brought back to life and its restoration mirrors Todd’s rehabilitation. Todd is not a leading character, perhaps for the reader, his is the lessor of three stories, but he’s integral all the same. His appearance, while upsetting turns out to be cathartic not just for Rock Castle – but for Kate also. Without confronting and closing off the past, it would be impossible for her to really move forward. Todd is a wreck when he decides he’s leaving the outwardly successful life he’s lived before. He needs to heal and even if he arrives in Ballytokeep by accident more than by design, Rock Castle is enough to make him realise it could be home.

Rock Castle is a typical ruin standing on the furthest edge of Ballytokeep. In Ireland, it seems like we have castles galore. Here, in the west, there are crumbling examples in fields, on cliffs and even in suburban centres. I wanted Rock Castle to be special. It is one of those old imposing structures that is history, past, present and rock star all rolled into one. The best example I could find was the beautiful Ballyhannon Castle in County Clare. I pinned a photo of it on to the wall as I went through the second edits of Secrets We Keep and honestly, I can say I fell in love with it – I hope the reader does too!

Credit for the image to Ballyhannon Castle, Co. Clare. Thanks to Margaret Moore, Owner.


  1. I liked the review, sounds good. The cover is lovely.

  2. I love to travel thorugh books. This sounds like a place to be. Wonderful post!

  3. I love stories like this one. Getting a fresh start can be revitalising.

  4. I love stories like this one. Getting a fresh start can be revitalising.

  5. I agree with you. This book does sound amazing. As usual, you have given a great review.

  6. Sounds great! I will definetly check it out.

  7. I love books with twists, this sounds fascinating!

  8. I absolutely love this review. I will definitely be reading Secrets We Keep. I love finding new Authors. Thanks for ee wonderful review.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  9. I love the setting of this book. Thanks for the review; it sounds really good.

  10. I like stories that go back & forth between the past & present.

  11. Awesome story! Badly wanna read this book! Will try to get it soon :)

  12. Ballyhannon; what stories it could tell! Mind you, you could say that of just about anywhere in Ireland!

  13. Thanks for the great review,sounds great :)

  14. Great post. Will enjoy to.discober the author style.