Four Secrets Kept by H.L. Marsay

Title: Four Secrets Kept (The Secrets of Hartwell #2)

Author: H.L. Marsay

Published on: 11 May 2023

Genre: Women’s Fiction

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Four Secrets Kept is the second book in H.L. Marsay’s The Secrets of Hartwell series.

Although the village may have laid Lord Hanley to rest, his death creates almost as many problems as did his life.

Lady Lucy Hanley is laying low and keeping her social activities to a minimum. A man whom she thought was a friend stalked her, and her abusive husband’s remains were finally found. She needs to make the manor financially viable, and this is possible only when she starts renting out the estate for weddings and other events. This plan seems to be working very well and they are completely booked. There’s news of a production company wanting to use the estate for shooting a Jane Austen TV series.

Rachel, Lucy’s best friend, has always been looking to escape from Hartwell. Her mother’s mysterious illness (memory related) and family drama has thwarted her plans of escape.

Dr. Meera Kumar moved to Hartwell with her son Krish. Her husband, Dev, is gay, but refuses to divorce as he knows his sexuality won’t be accepted by his family. Meera found love again (or should I say, for the first time) in the local vet named Ben. They plan to move in together when Dev arrives with troubling news.

Detective Sergeant Jo Ormond seems to be adjusting to the quiet village life. After spending many years in London, the countryside is a welcoming change. Her work involves investigating several local crimes – including Lord Hanley’s murder.

I have read all the books that Helen Marsay has written so far. I have been following her writing career from the start. In the past two years, she’s written Chief Inspector Shadow Mysteries, Secrets of Hartwell series, and there’s also another series releasing in the latter half of 2023 – Lady in Blue Mysteries. Chief Inspector Shadow Mysteries was picked up for TV series/ Movie adaptation at the beginning of this year.

Four Secrets Kept by H.L. Marsay is another fantastic addition to the series. The previous book – Four Hidden Treasures – ended with Jo and her colleagues finding Lord Hanley’s body in the caves. Lucy had confessed to killing him and with the help of Rachel, they had buried his body. But it seems like he was alive when buried and somehow made his way to the cave where he was once again attacked by someone else.

Jo decides to keep Lucy’s confession a secret. She knows Lucy was being abused by her husband and her killing him was self-defense. Also, Jo, Lucy, Rachel, and Meera have grown closer, and Jo wouldn’t want to arrest a friend. Guy, the local MP who was stalking Lucy is arrested but it seems like he won’t stand trial – his lawyers have requested a psychological evaluation and he might be diagnosed as unstable. Nevertheless, he cannot harm Lucy anymore.

Lucy’s been busy trying to repay all the debts and keep the manor running. She’s renting out the estate to weddings and other events. Things seem to be going pretty great until Rachel reminds her of the upcoming village fete which happens on the last weekend in August on the Hartwell estate. But Lucy’s booked a wedding that weekend. Oh-oh! Lucy’s mother-in-law Caroline is not going to be happy about this.

We also have significant developments when it comes to the four recurring characters’ love lives. None of the ladies were seeking love as they were engulfed in personal problems. But seems like the universe had better plans for them. There are ups and downs, misunderstandings, and arguments between lovers, but the story ends on a good note. That’s what matters, right?

We still have a couple of mysteries to explore. Jo was abandoned at birth. She has a locket in her possession that suggests she’s related to the Hartwell nobles. Then we have Lord Rupert Hanley’s mysterious death – if Lucy’s blow didn’t kill him, then who attacked him again?

We also have a couple of conclusions here – Rachel’s mother’s alleged illness (surprising developments here) and Meera’s love/married life. Oh yes, the exes and relatives make their appearances too.

I was so invested in this book that I didn’t want it to end. From start to finish, it was like a movie playing in my head. I hope Hartwell series too gets picked up for TV/Movie adaptation.

It’s a Helen Marsay novel so it goes without saying that storytelling, character portrayal, and plot-to-story development is excellent. Simply perfect.

What are you waiting for? Go on, chop chop. Buy your copy of Four Secrets Kept by H.L. Marsay. This is the second book in the trilogy so if you haven’t read the first installment, I suggest you start from there.

Additional Reading:

Series in Order: The Secrets of Hartwell by H.L. Marsay

Book #1: Four Hidden Treasures by H L Marsay

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