House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First and foremost, how can you not fall instantly in love with a book that has such gorgeous book cover? I have always been a sucker to books with gorgeous mansions on its cover and having a woman and child facing it just sealed the deal for me. There I go, push every other book that has a deadline to be finished and pick this debut book by Lynda Stacey. And happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

House of Secrets is a dual time line story of Madeline and Emily. Madeline is in need of a refuge for herself and her 3-year-old daughter Poppy to escape the abusive clutches of her lover Liam. Left with zero options, Maddie approaches her estranged father, owner of Wrea Head Hall, a gothic Victorian mansion converted to a beautiful hotel. Maddie and Poppy feels safe and begins to settle down slowly and Maddie also begins to repair her relationship with her father from whom she had been separated first coz of her mother and then Liam’s abusive and controlling schemes.
Christopher Lawless aka Bandit serves as the gamekeeper and all in all for the hotel staying in the hotel’s cottage in the grounds but his stint as a marine in the army has given him severe PTSD that leaves him with severe nightmares and sleepless nights. During a stormy night, Maddie sees Bandit replacing the broken glasses of the green house and decides to help when they stumble upon a diary of the former owner Emily Ennis.

Emily’s life, her forbidden love, the trauma of the war years everything gets described beautifully in her diary. The alternating chapters of Emily and Maddie begins to evolve, each of them going thru pain and grief of loss before the light shines thru’.

But it is not just the secret of the past being uncovered that holds prominence in this story, Liam and his delusional love for Maddie and his killing spree adds intrigue to this wonderful story of the past and the present. The sibling love between Maddie and Jess was touching. The only point of strain in the House of Secrets was that there seemed to be a loss of connection between events in the story. There was a lack of smooth flow which honestly doesn’t take away any of its flavor but would have made it much more brilliant. Eagerly looking forward to the next part in the series.

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A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret …
Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy. .
Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father – the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.
After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies – and, all the while, becoming closer.
But Liam still won’t let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts …
Winner of Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks 2015 Search for a Star competition.

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