A pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh, and sharing my review: it’s publication day, and this rather lovely-looking book is now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback from Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading e-copy.
I haven’t read a book by Taryn Leigh before – this is her second. Her first, Perfect Imperfections, sadly wasn’t picked up by my radar because I think I might have rather liked that one too. But never mind – I was drawn to her latest both by that perfect (and really striking) cover and a story I found immensely intriguing. Let’s take a closer look…
Rachel, saved from an attack twelve years before by a faceless stranger, never got to thank him, never knew his name.
Despite the devastation she chose to rise above it to help others from their pain by becoming a psychologist…. Her only issue now is that she’s an expert at fixing everyone else’s problems, and blind to her own.
After a long relationship with her boyfriend Will starts to go south, she turns to her best friend Amelia for guidance.
Suddenly her world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes and she’s left with no one to comfort her but Will’s rude older brother Ruari.
Paralyzed by fear, she struggles to take grip of her life, until the day when anonymous letters begin to appear from the stranger who saved her twelve years before.
There was such a lot I enjoyed about this book, an engaging story based on a real experience of gender-based violence, a satisfying exploration of recovery and becoming an “overcomer” rather than victim.
Rachel herself is quite a complex character, living under the shadow of her earlier experience of a violent attack, always with that edge of fear. Now a psychologist, she really doesn’t seem a particularly astute judge of character – she’s rather settled for the relative security of an unexciting relationship with Will, but when she needs him the most he’s strangely absent. She rejects the support of his brother Ruari – well placed to help her, and who plainly cares for her – but places trust in supportive letters from a complete stranger. But then she forms another relationship, with the elderly and lonely Mr Lemon – and it’s one that sustains her while she searches for her own sense of direction.
This whole book addresses some really tough subject matter – and deals with it very well indeed, with a real feel of authenticity about all the characters and their actions. The pacing is excellent, the tension cranks up nicely to one unexpectedly traumatic incident – so well written – and I was entirely drawn in by Rachel and her story, hoping she’d emerge stronger and with the happy ending she deserved.
The author’s style is immensely readable – I really don’t mean to be rude if I say that it almost had a YA feel at times, which only increased the impact as the story grew darker. I will admit that some of its twists didn’t entirely surprise me – but that didn’t matter one bit.
It’s very rarely that I’ve read a book set in South Africa, and this book really does have an exceptional sense of place. Rachel lives in Pretoria, in a gated community – with zebra at the bottom of the garden. And there are some fascinating outings – to vividly drawn locations like the safari lodge and Sun City that had me exploring google to find out more.
I really enjoyed the book’s focus on family and what it means – her efforts on behalf of Mr Lemon, and Ruari’s relationship with his brother. And the romance really worked for me – touched my heart, and what a lovely man.
Yes, I enjoyed this one – something a little different, and a really engaging read.
About the author
Taryn Leigh is a South African Author, who spent her childhood with her nose buried in books. Her love for reading transpired into her ambition to become an author.
Her first book, Perfect Imperfections, is available in paperback, eBook and audiobook. She lives in Pretoria with her husband and son.