Thursday, August 18, 2011
Gloria's Secret by Robin Alexander
Publisher: Intaglio Publications
Gloria's Secret is the sequel to Alexander's earlier book, Gloria's Inn. It picks up the story of Hayden Tate and her lover Adrienne in the middle of a mystery. Strange things are happening at the inn and staff members are beginning to whisper that the place is haunted by the ghost of the former handyman Hank. Hank was killed in the previous book when he was trying to murder Hayden and the fear is that he's come back to get his revenge by destroying the inn's business.
Hayden and Adrienne don't really believe in spirits, but they can't think of another suspect who would know so much about what happened in the past. The timing for this situation couldn’t be worse since the women are planning a trip to visit Hayden's family in New Orleans for Christmas. Hayden's parents have been resistant to her lifestyle to the point of being homophobic and they're even less happy about her living on Cat Island.
Frankly, Hayden would love to use the situation at the inn as an excuse not to make the trip, but Adrienne insists they have to go. Surprises await them in New Orleans and a terrifying situation occurs when they return to the island. Through everything, the strength of the story is what the women learn about the value of family and friends, as well as the power of the ties that bind lovers.
This book is written in the same tone as the previous one. Hayden is irreverent, klutzy and often funny. Adrienne, at times, assumes almost a motherly role as the mature member of the pair who must deal with her trouble-prone partner. Many of the characters from the previous book return, so there is a familiar feel to people who have read both.
The story may suffer from having too many plots – the mystery at the inn, the confrontation with Hayden's family, and preparations for a wedding of one of the secondary characters. Also, the injection of characters from the previous novel doesn’t add anything to this work and one character just drops dead without any explanation.
Next to the mystery, the best story line is the interactions in Hayden's family. That would have made a very good book by itself, but it gets buried in the other plots and doesn't get the development it needs. Essentially the story itself is fine. The unevenness is more a matter of presentation and something that an editor probably should have straightened out.
Gloria's Secret is fine for a few hours of light reading. There are definitely some parts that are funny and others that hold considerable suspense. If the reader is looking for pure entertainment and doesn't usually use a critical eye to examine books, this one will be acceptable.