Title: The Secret Couple
Author: J.S. Lark
Published on: 13 May 2022
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Alice, recently estranged with her husband, is on her way to Bath to meet a new client. When she reaches the hotel and is at the bar, the client is not there. They had emailed each other so Alice has no idea what her client looks like. When a lecherous man harasses Alice, the bartender comes to her rescue. He later tells her he was the one who emailed her.
Instead of talking about his case, he takes Alice out the next few days. He learns everything he can about her personal life – including her abusive past. Alice is falling for him but she also must remember that he’s her client. Luke (the bartender) finally gives her some details about his childhood – but still nothing about the legal services he requires from her.
Luke keeps insisting he wants to sleep with Alice but she pushes him away until one early morning when she gives away to her temptations. Luke sends a selfie of him and Alice to Joseph (Alice’s estranged husband.) Alice is angry to learn of Luke’s behavior but forgives him soon – he’s so charming and his only intention (by sending Joseph the photo) was to make Joseph jealous.
Then, it is time for Alice to return to London. She’s ‘recovered’ from her breakup with Joseph and misses Luke a lot. But she insists they remain friends. One evening, she finds Luke at her doorstep. He’s still not told her why he wants her legal services. He’s badly bruised and claims a drug gang beat him – Luke and Alice had recorded a video of a drug dealer using children as drug mules back in Bath.
The Secret Couple is one of those stories that are annoyingly interesting. Annoying because the protagonist, Alice, has no control over her life or emotions. She knows Luke is not good for her. She’s been warned too. But she gives in to Luke’s charms and smiles and ends up falling into a mess – the drug dealing video in Bath, Luke’s surprise arrival at London which she kept a secret from her sister and ex-husband.
Then, there is Alice’s abusive past – she killed her first husband Ron. He was controlling and abusive. She finally lost her temper one evening and when he tried to attack her, she killed him. Watched him bleed to death before calling emergency services. Alice was accused of Ron’s murder but pronounced not guilty by the jury.
Yet, Alice finds herself once again in the midst of controlling men. Argh! There were times when I felt Alice had to come to her senses and realize that Luke’s been using her. Until the end, Luke uses her – with his bloody charms. I mean, seriously! Masks do fall off once you get to know a person, right? In this case, Alice is okay with Luke not revealing his past. She is okay with him betraying her and then coming home with a charming smile. God!!!! Wake up, Alice!!
See, this is why I said the story was annoyingly interesting. I was curious to know what happens at the end. Maybe I get to say to Alice – ‘I told you so!’ Hmm! There is a twist at the end and it kinda saved the story from getting 2 stars but I still think Alice hasn’t learned anything. She ends up trusting Luke! *rolls eyes*
Overall, this was an okay read. To be honest, it put me into a reading slump – the story just went on and on and on. I was pretty sure I had read more than 75% of the story but when I checked my kindle, it said 35%. Gawd! This was a complete drag. And had an annoying protagonist!
I have seen quite a number of good reviews on Goodreads and NetGalley. So maybe, this book was not for me – a psychological thriller, yes, but perhaps not the kind I prefer. So I do not want to talk about recommendations.
I received an ARC from One More Chapter and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.