A pupil and a teacher. Is it ever right to break the rules? Jessica Hart has never forgotten Matthew Landley. After all, he was her first love when she was fifteen years old. But he was also her school maths teacher, and their forbidden affair ended in scandal with his arrest and imprisonment. Now, seventeen years later, Matthew returns to Norfolk, with a new identity and a long-term girlfriend and a young daughter, who know nothing of what happened before. Yet when he runs into Jessica, neither of them can ignore the emotional ties that bind them together. With so many secrets to keep hidden, how long can Jessica and Matthew avoid the dark mistakes of their past imploding in the present? From debut author Rebecca Done, This Secret We’re Keeping is a powerful and provocative novel about the ties which can keep us together – or tear us apart.
I decided to read this book just based on the synopsis. I tried to read the book without any pre – judgment but there were quite a lot of cringe-worthy moments so probably I wasn’t as open minded as I should have been.
This Secret We’re Keeping by Reecca Done is told in two timelines. There is the present which is mostly narrated from Jess’s perspective. Readers only get to meet Mathew/Will when he is with Jess. The second timeline is the past which is narrated by Mathew. The two timelines were interwoven really well. The present was mostly told in two chapters before a chapter on the past. Rebecca Done did this perfectly. Clues from the past explained the present and vice versa. For instance; a piece of jewelry will be described in a manner to show that’s it important in the present but going back to the past would then explain the importance.
This Secret We’re Keeping is narrated masterfully. It’s hard to believe that this is Rebecca Done’s first book. The pacing is also really good, I found myself turning pages up to the end. There was no real suspense for me though. For instance; Jess kept alluding to a secret but I pretty much guessed what it was from the start. I think what had me at the edge of my seat was thinking about whether or not Mathew’s secret and identity would be revealed.
Despite all that, I didn’t like the protagonists at all. Mathew was 25 when he started hooking up with Jess who was 15 then. The story is narrated in a way that portrays Jess as the initiator of the relationship although Mathew was the grownup in the relationship. However, it sort of seems like he was just seduced and couldn’t help himself. Jess was clearly a troubled teenager with so many issues at home. There was also a scissor self-cutting incident that was just brushed off. She had some issues so Mathew just seemed like he should have known better. On the other hand, I also didn’t like Jess. Her actions even as an adult didn’t make much sense to me. The other main characters were Anna and Zak who were both portrayed as unstable people.Anna was Jess’ best friend with one single preoccupation. Zak was a doctor who had some ‘mafia’ blackmailing tendencies. He alternated between being really sweet and then just creepy. I can’t explain that without spoiling the story.
You have to read the book to understand what I mean about the characters. Let me not spoil it for you by giving away any more details.
The final chapter was almost like a wrap-up. Everything was concluded in just one or two sentences. However, the book ended with a cliffhanger so perhaps there is a second book coming.
I don’t really rate books but if I had to, I would give this one 3 stars. I liked it and read the whole of it but couldn’t get past the controversial topic which clouded my judgment and influenced my feelings towards the characters (seriously, she was a troubled 15 year old). If you want to read This Secret We’re Keeping by Rebecca Done then go into it with an open mind and you may actually enjoy it.