At the time Public Secrets was written, it was a very different style for Nora Roberts. It wasn't her typical romantic story, but instead dealt with more mystery and intrigue. Little did I know that she would eventually expand on her writing abilities in this area and focus the majority of her new material in this genre.
Public Secrets deals with the life of Emma, a woman with a past containing one of the worst nightmares known to man. Emma's father, Brian McAvoy, is a famous musician who swept into her life at an early age. Emma's mother had gotten pregnant in an attempt to "catch" Brian so she could have the luxury and money that went with his fame. Things didn't work out that way because Brian saw her for what she was - a drug addicted manipulator who hated everyone around her. After Emma was born, her mother used her to get money from Brian but squandered it on drugs, clothes, and other addictions in her life. On a visit, Brian couldn't stand the look in his tiny daughter's eyes any longer and took her away from the rancid apartment, hateful mother, and life of hell that she had been enduring. He then showed her what life could be like. Emma felt like she was on top of the world - she had her father, her new mom, a wonderful home, and the best part was she would soon have a new baby brother.
Several months later, her new, safe world came crashing down around her when a kidnapping attempt when awry and the baby was killed. Typical with this type of story plot, this event tears the family apart and each character retreats into his/her own world for a time being. The catalyst that brings them back together is when years later Emma begins to remember that fateful night and realizes that she saw the man who killed her brother. When word of this gets out, Emma's life is in danger. The killer wants to make sure his identity is never made public.
When I was reading this book, for some reason I kept picturing McAvoy's band as The Beatles. Silly, I know, but for some reason that was the mental image I had conjured. Maybe it was the wild parties that was described in detail, the bits and pieces shown of the music world including recording sessions and tours, or the English countryside. Without being able to pinpoint the exact reason, I just finally went with the mental image and enjoyed the book, while periodically reminding myself that it WASN'T about The Beatles!
The plot is fairly intricate with a few minor twists and turns. Figuring out the villain's identity was not difficult, but the various subplots along the way were very enjoyable and unexpected. True to her style, Nora Roberts is vivid in her detail and descriptions including her characters. One of my favorite parts is when she describes the English farm where Brian McAvoy grew up and where he buried his son in the family graveyard. The detail was such that this countryside was something I craved to see firsthand.
Public Secrets isn't one of Nora Roberts' best books, but it is very good. I'd recommend picking up a copy at your local library instead of purchasing it!
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