By C.J. Archer
I was provided a copy of A Secret Life by the author who requested a fair and honest review.
Minerva Peabody needs a man. Unfortunately she picked the wrong one. The impoverished playwright has a dream to see her plays performed on stage but in Elizabethan England, not only are women considered the inferior sex, they simply do NOT write plays. Faced with rejection after rejection, she decides to take one more chance with the most desperate theater manager in London, only this time she'll use the cover of a man. Sucked in by a pair of bright blue eyes and impressive shoulders, she chooses Blake out of the crowd, never thinking he'll actually play an active role in her ruse. But when he does, he gets under her skin in the most alarming way.
Privateer (don't call him a pirate to his face), Robert Blakewell, accepted Min's proposal in order to discover which cur among Lord Hawkesbury's Players got his sister with child. But when his mission threatens to destroy Min's fledgling career, he must make a choice: protect his family or the woman he has grown to love. Either choice will see him lose something precious.
A SECRET LIFE is a romp through Elizabethan England and features cameo appearances from William Shakespeare.
I found that A Secret Life had a fairly interesting beginning, a slow middle and then it got super ramped up and exciting near the end of the book. If the entire book was a fast paced and as interesting as the end of the book, A Secret Life would have been amazing.
Ok let me start with the beginning. It's always interesting to me when I read historical books. I love them. It amuses me if not pisses me off how women were viewed and where their role in society was held. I surely don’t know how I’d have ever survived in any other era than the current. Poor Min. She is a woman born in the wrong century for sure. Smart, well educated in the sciences of the day, knows various languages and she has a talent for writing poetry and play writing. Unfortunately all these gifts were used to serve her father’s pursuits and no theatre company would even read her material simply based upon the fact of her gender.
On the fly she comes with an idea to have a man pose as the author for her play. That’s where Robert “Blake” Blakewell comes into the story.
Up until that point, I thought the story was great and it was holding my interest. The middle of the book just seemed to drag for me. There were a whole bunch of scenes that could have been condensed or removed altogether. I would have loved more time between “Blake” and Min. Maybe more humour. Something that connected them more. Something that would have made me want to root for them or to have me feel a deeper chemistry between the pair. There is so much potential for the pair but it just fell short of drama or passion.
Then at about 80% on my Kindle, the story came alive. Blazingly alive. There was angst, drama, emotions, nail biting scenes and you started to feel that Blake and Min maybe do have the chemistry I was previously craving. There was this one scene where Min and her father were arguing and he was threating to throw her script into the fireplace and I was panting in agony. “NO NO NO” I heard myself say out loud.
Then finally the villain of the story, Ned, made an appearance. Ned was in the story the entire time but previously he just seemed to be a secondary character with really no use. Well that certainly changed because he was a really nasty character.
So ultimately A Secret Life had an amazing ending but it just took too long to have me so engaged. If only some of that action was distributed in the middle of the book.