For months Emma Townsend has avoided her old house, haunted by its memories of her dead husband. Finding the courage to sort through their possessions, she’s astonished to find an old love letter from friend Chris Walker, and determines to make amends for the past.
Chris, now a college professor, is trying to deal with the tragic death of a graduate student. Seeing Emma again brings back a flood of memories, re-kindling a long-lost passion. But with police investigating the student’s death, Chris cannot act on his desires.
But is it too late? Because now someone’s watching Emma and Chris. Someone who’s nursing revenge. And they are about to be plunged into a nightmare where no one can be trusted and every dirty little secret is sealed with a kiss.
Dirty Secrets is a novella which previously appeared in the anthology Hot Pursuit and was written between the fourth and fifth books in the Chicago series. The setting for this book is St. Petersburg, Florida, and the storyline bears no relation whatsoever to the Chicago series as we are introduced to two new characters in Emma Townsend and Christopher Walker.
Since the novella is less than a third of Rose’s usual book length, things have to move at a faster pace and there is no space for padding. The credibility of the romance between Emma and Christopher is helped along by the fact they were childhood friends whose budding romance was extinguished before it even had time to start. When they meet again as adults, Christopher has been divorced for three years and Emma has been a widow for about a year. While Emma maintains she needs time to get used to the idea of being with someone else, the sparks between them tell a different story and it isn’t long before circumstances push them together.
The actual criminal part of the storyline is very transparent since there isn’t time for the usual elaborate turns and twists which makes it easy to work out who the bad guy is from very early on. The idea behind the plot is an intriguing one but it’s hard to feel any empathy for the victims or their families as we barely get to meet them. The conclusion is a tad predictable and everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow. Not bad but not great.