I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
“Everyone around here really does have a secret, don’t they?”
Ben’s smile came roaring back. “Welcome to Whitaker.”
A small island off the coast of Washington with only a little over two hundred residents, Whitaker has become an unofficial destination for people looking to escape into obscurity. Hansen Rye is taking a breather from his high pressured life and turmoil resulting from his sister Alexis' death. He's strengthened his even usual grumpy personality and tried to become even more walled off but has still become friends with Ben, local head of police, and Tessa Jenkins, the woman he is currently trying to not fall for.
Tessa is hiding out in Whitaker, trying to lay low from her own family drama but can't help teasing the impromptu handyman, Hansen. His grumpy demeanor gives way to can't help but fix things for local residents and the look in his eyes when he's staring at her, draws her back for more.
However, after a body turns up on Tessa's lawn, secrets are about to get revealed and feelings are about to be confronted.
“Not you.” He shrugged. Even took a step back. Generally looked uncomfortable in his skin, which never happened. “You, I like.”
She almost spit out a mouthful of coffee. “Since when?”
“Let’s say you’re growing on me.” He sighed and crossed his arms. Then uncrossed them again.
Her Other Secret was a mixture of mystery, thriller, romance, and ending suspense. When the reader comes into the story, Hansen and Tessa already have a friendship established and are just trying to not act on sexual feelings. I missed seeing their initial draw and spark, it feels like we missed out on some great teasing and poking of the bear (Hansen) by Tessa to break down his walls. Their chemistry and back and forth was good, the word love was brought up far too quickly for the lack of building blocks I was getting from them emotionally, some sex scenes felt a bit out of place, and while they had good friendship chemistry, they didn't heat up the pages as much as I would have liked. The majority of the story focuses more on the murder mystery and as such, the romance plot suffered some.
All Hansen knew was that his past had caught up with him in the worst possible way.
This was more mystery/thriller than romantic suspense to me, the pace of the characters investigating is slower as the reader's mind is supposed to be racing as to who is involved, why, and for what purposes. There is a locked room mystery feel to it with the setting being an island currently experiencing storms that is keeping residents from getting off the island or on. The connection of the murder victim to Hansen was intriguing and kept the high stakes feel alive but some of the key players felt removed from the story. Hansen's family is discussed and his close relationship with his brother, but we never meet them and for the murder victim playing such a key role, we never got a pov or scene with them before they died. The villain/s also had a removed feeling to them, their wrap-up and reveal didn't quite have a big impact or feel like a rewarding payoff. The last twenty percent had more of the romantic suspense feel but the change of pace gave the ending more of a rushed feel than crescendo conclusion as characters were found out or cleared.
The author has definitely created a place rife with intrigue but I felt a bit lost at times, how we're just supposed to go along with how Whitaker is both a known place to disappear on and yet you can disappear on it. If this is indeed a start to a series, the structure of the island, how the island is owned by a mysterious rich person but gives the running of it over to a board, and some short but poignant introductions to some characters encumbered this story at times but it would make sense as laying groundwork for a series.
There was some missing character development, Hansen and Ben had a enjoyable relationship but would have liked to have seen how it started, same with Hansen and Tessa's friendship that their chemistry eventually dictated had to be more. I also thought Tessa's secret, that we don't get let in on until around the sixty percent mark, felt somewhat tagged on; not enough time to gain an emotional footing and a resolution that felt partially empty. The word love was used too quickly but Dimon always writes couples that have believable connections and are compelling in any small way to read about. I think I caught a hint of something possibly brewing between our local PD Ben and the extremely mysterious woman named Maddie who answers the department phones remotely. Whitaker seems like it has residents with stories to tell and I'm curious enough to show up if there are more books to come.
She didn’t believe a woman needed a formal partner to feel whole. She’d seen her mother thrive and love without ever walking down the aisle. But the idea of sharing the burden, having someone to help her fight in situations like this . . . The way he kissed her, touched her. The smile he saved only for her. Yeah, love.