SECRET SISTERS – Jayne Ann Krentz
ISBN-13: 978-0-399-17448-3
December 2015
Romantic Suspense

San Juan Islands, Washington State – Eighteen years ago; Present day

Eighteen years ago Daphne and Madeline were watching television at Daphne's cottage while Daphne's mother and Madeline's grandmother were setting up for a wedding at Madeline's grandmother's hotel.  An unknown man has been watching the two girls closely; trying to decide whether to attack the tall one, maybe hard to control, or the smaller one, who enjoyed giving orders when he checked in.  Yup, she needs to be taught a lesson.

Madeline Chase has just inherited a chain of boutique hotels from her grandmother's death in a fire.  She had been thinking about possibly having a relationship with Dr. William Fleming.  He is a therapist in couples counseling, but after she asked Jack Rayner, head of her corporate security firm, to check him out, she quickly ended what might have been.  The doctor had seduced two previous clients and was looking for some money from Madeline for his couples therapy research.  Good thing Jack is there to check her possible lovers; however Jack is having no more of that; he wants to be her next date.

Called back to Cooper Island after eighteen years at the request of the elderly caretaker, Tom Lomax, Madeline doesn't know what is going on, but Tom doesn't trust the telephone or computers. When Madeline arrives at the Aurora Point Hotel, Tom is on the floor, near to death from falling down the grand staircase; or maybe he was pushed.  All he can say before he dies is that it's “too late” and “the briefcase”.  On that day eighteen years before, Daphne caught up with the man and Madeline in the Maintenance shack, and Tom and Madeline's grandmother killed him and buried him in the yard and poured the concrete floor for a gazebo over him.  Left behind in his room was a mysterious briefcase, which neither Daphne nor Madeline ever saw, but whatever was in it made all four of them leave the island, never to return, leaving the briefcase stored in a wall behind one of the rooms.  Madeline knows she is in over her head and calls Jack to come to the island and find out what is happening.

The first family of Cooper Island are the Websters; the father Egan made a fortune in the market.  They are on the island because his son Travis is about to announce he is running for president.  The golden son, Xavier, should be the one running, but severe mental problems have had him in and out of institutions for years; they say if he killed someone he was smart enough to cover it up.  A strange woman claiming to be Tom Lomax's granddaughter almost gets Madeline and Jack blown up in the maintenance building, and things are going from bad to worse.  Jack calls in his partner, his brother Abe, and he picks up Daphne to bring her to Cooper Island too.  Daphne just came home from a vacation to find her apartment torn up and her computer stolen.  And now even Madeline's grandmother's death is suspect.  Everything going on is starting to look suspicious, and the only way to keep Daphne safe is for her to join Madeline and Jack.  Daphne and Madeline called themselves secret sisters, and despite the eighteen years they haven't even talked to one another;now they immediately connect again.

Jayne Anne Krentz is the force to be reckoned with in the romance field today.  Juggling differing sub genres of romance, she works her magic every time.  Madeline and Jack are her typical characters; Jack is strong and silent, with devils hounding him from his past.  Madeline definitely has devils in her past that keep her from relationships or intimacy with men, but she's certainly her own woman, used to getting her way.  However, Madeline has the brains to know ex-FBI agent Jack can protect her, but she's not against using all her brains and her memories of that day years ago to find out who keeps trying to kill them. Anyone could be Tom's killer and behind the attacks on them; it seems to constantly be changing who has the most motive.

Secondary characters are Daphne, Madeline's friend who saved her all those years ago, and Abe, Jack's brother.  All of the dysfunctional Webster family are involved; although someone keeps trying to point to Xavier.

SECRET SISTERS is an absorbing story of how secrets from decades ago can still impact the lives they touched.  Madeline and Jack must break through their own hard shells and take the scary step of letting someone else into their lives.  This is a secret pleasure that you won't want to miss!

Carolyn Crisher