Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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The Art of Keeping Secrets (Rachael Johns, Harlequin)

The Australian book industry voted Rachael Johns’ The Patterson Girls its 2015 General Fiction Book of the Year. Her new novel will also appeal to mainstream women’s fiction readers, as well as Johns’ romance fan base. It’s the tale of three close friends, all mothers of teenage boys, whose lives unravel when their troubling secrets come to the surface. Their tight-knit friendship helps them weather the subsequent storms. Set in Perth and New York, this novel is at its best during moments of climactic tension, when all the story strands entangle and the characters’ emotions are heightened. The neat structure in which each chapter is told from a different perspective works well. However, the book contains certain unbelievable elements characteristic of its genre—the characters are all gorgeous, the male romantic interests are swoon-worthy, and there is the contrivance of all three friends each holding a big secret at the same time. The Art of Keeping Secrets is recommended for readers looking to be propelled by the energy and resolution of the plot, and those who want an escapist, ‘feel-good’ or holiday read.

Joanne Shiells is a freelance reviewer and former book buyer


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