GARDEN OF SECRETS Barbara Freethy
Angel's Bay , Book 5
Pocket Star
ISBN: 978-1-45-1636512
October 2011
Contemporary Romance

Angel's Bay, California - Present Day

Dr. Charlotte Adams is avoiding two men at a New Year's party at the home of Mayor Robert Monroe and his wife, Theresa.  Reverend Andrew Schilling used to be Charlotte 's high school love, but he betrayed her once with Theresa's sister, Pamela.  The other man vying for Charlotte 's attention is Police Chief Joe Silveira, newly divorced and hotter than hot, at least in Charlotte 's opinion.  As the clock nears midnight , both men are walking a collision course from different sides of the room, coming toward Charlotte to collect that inevitable New Year's kiss.  Charlotte runs upstairs, avoiding the conflict and the choice as to who should get the first kiss.  The next thing she knows, she's stumbling around as the mansion is thrown into darkness.  Then someone screams.

Theresa Monroe is lying in her bedroom in a pool of blood, but she's still alive.  And the only person seen near that area of the house recently is Charlotte , or so the maid claims.  Yes, Charlotte was in the hallway, but what about that unknown man or woman who brushed by her after the lights went out?  No, the mayor insists that Charlotte hated his wife and blames her for the attack and the robbery of Theresa's jewels.  Charlotte is beside herself; all she was trying to do was avoid a kiss!

The story plays out, and the mystery deepens with  Charlotte as the prime suspect.  When Theresa's sister, Pamela, comes back into town, she blames Charlotte also.  Joe puts his second-in-command in charge; Joe was in the house at the time of the attack, and his personal interest in Charlotte puts the case in jeopardy, so he watches instead from afar.  He knows Charlotte is innocent, but it's his job to find the real thief.

GARDEN OF SECRETS is the fifth book in the Angel's Bay series about a small town on the coast of California where a long-ago shipwreck left twenty-five people stranded.  Family dynamics abound in this novel, and much of the story is carried over from previous books in the series.  Evan though GARDEN OF SECRETS could stand alone, I felt as though I was missing a lot of details in the telling, having not read the previous novels.  I found the mystery to be weak, and some of the characters were off-putting, but that is probably due to my lack of familiarity with this small town and the people who live there.

GARDEN OF SECRETS is Charlotte 's story, about her past mistakes and questions that loom in her future.  Fans of this series will enjoy Charlotte 's adventure.

Diana Risso