Addressing the issue of domestic abuse is a challenge in fiction. Beth Hale handles the subject honestly in her romantic thriller “Magnolia Secrets”. From the first chapter in this compelling book I was firmly hooked.
The story revolves around Lainey Holley, her husband Chief of Police Evan Holley, and newly hired Officer Walker Bell. Beginning with a hot sexual encounter between Lainey and Walker the tale soon turns to Walker meeting his new boss. What Walker doesn’t know when he first arrives in the town of New Hope is that Evan Holley is Lainey’s husband. Another thing he isn’t aware of is the abuse the Chief rains down on his wife on a regular basis.
As Lainey walks the fine line her husband has drawn for her, dictating her every move, her clothing, her daily activities, and even the meals she prepares, she also struggles to keep the abuse a secret. Ashamed of the bruises and black eyes she has learned to cover up, she avoids contact with Walker as much as possible.
Meanwhile Walker views her as a cheating wife in spite of his continued desire for her. Little by little the truth comes out. However there is an even darker secret in the Chief’s life. And it is this secret that threatens the Chief, Lainey, and the security of the town of New Hope.
Hale has constructed a fascinating story with complex characters and an excellent plot. Uncovering the covert activities of what seems to be a quiet small town, Hale paints a picture of the illusion of bucolic country life. New Hope is a town where good people are touched by the corruption of authority figures. Still, secrets are kept and wounds are hidden in an effort to keep the peace.
I couldn’t put this book down. There are a few minor typos and misspellings but they in no way affected my enjoyment of this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a solid crime story with plenty of sexy romance and taut action.
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