Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental, #4
Published: January 28th 2014
Format: Paperback, 352 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Keep his brother's business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.Keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his own twin--or he'll lose his family.Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who's supposed to be his "girlfriend's" partner.Of course there's also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.There's a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?
It’s been a very long time since I finished a book in one sitting (a couple of hours, really) not daring to blink or look away lest I miss something important. Brigid Kemmerer hit it out of the ballpark once again. Secret is, I dare say, her best Elemental book so far. The sensitivity and subtlety she showed with Nick launched her from an author whose books I enjoy to someone I admire and deeply respect.
Unlike Hunter’s book (and Gabriel’s for that matter), Secret has very little action and a whole lot of contemplation. Nick is in such a difficult situation, forced to hide his true self from everyone, including his twin brother, convinced that they’d never accept and love him if they knew who he really was. Nick’s struggles were done so beautifully and realistically, his pain poured out of every page, his insecurities and fears a burden on the reader’s shoulders. Nick’s reluctance to open up was incredibly frustrating, since not knowing the outcome made his suffering so much worse. At times, even being rejected by everyone seemed better than pretending, but it was clear that Nick needed to reach his breaking point first… and reach it he did.
Also unlike the previous books, the other Merricks get very little attention. There was always one Merrick boy (or Hunter) at the center of each book, but in Secret, everything was about Nick and only Michael played a more significant part. I attribute this to the fact that Nick is such an overwhelmingly troubled character, but also a strong presence that simply takes over every scene, his mild manners notwithstanding.
In addition to Nick’s story, we see everything that goes on in Quinn’s house, especially now that her older brother is back in town. Against all odds, Quinn finds a love interest of her own, and in the most unlikely of places. It was hard for me to like Quinn, her prickly nature making it almost impossible, but I was fully aware of how complex she was and how her reactions always made sense. While I felt Nick’s pain and even suffered along with him, it was through Quinn that I saw Kemmerer’s superior understanding of human nature. Please allow me this small comparison – I always complain that something is missing from Katie McGarry’s books. Her characters never seem real because their reactions are textbook perfect. Whatever she’s missing, Kemmerer has it in spades. Her characters are nuanced, deeply flawed and, most importantly, entirely believable.
While reading Breathless, the prequel novella also told from Nick’s perspective, isn’t strictly necessary, I strongly recommend it for those who wish to fully enjoy Nick’s (and Quinn’s) story. It will give you a great idea of what to expect and show you a side of Nick you’ve never seen before.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.