||March 1, 2008
Amazon Customer Reviews of THE SECRET KEEPING (All editions)
"T-N-T" February 21, 2007 By Donna Quintana "A friend of mine who is a very picky reader went crazy over this book and insisted that I read her copy. I'm glad I did. The first part seems like a bunch of random musings about Lydia and Helaine, two women who don't even know each other. Then their paths begin to converge and the seemingly unrelated pieces start to make sense.
Before I realized it, I was lulled into an intricate, fast-moving plot. Once the tension starts to build it continues to escalate until the very end. The descriptions of what the women are going through as the story unfolds are made more meaningful and are intensely felt because of the author's skill at defining their mental and emotional makeup at the beginning of the book. As I was flying through the last several pages, my muscles were actually tense. It's quite a reading experience. I returned my friend's book to her, but I've already ordered my own copy. I plan to read it again in a year or two.
Another reader mentioned that the cover doesn't relate very well to the story, and I want to second that. I don't see any connection at all between the cover and the book. In fact, I was put off by the cover and almost didn't read the book because of it. So if there is another printing, a different cover would be beneficial. Meanwhile, remember that 'you can't tell a book by its cover'."
"Impressive Debut Author, February 17, 2007 By Cassie Coleman "The back cover calls this a 'high stakes girl-gets-girl romance.' That's an understatement, to say the least. Midway through the book you can see that what appears at first to be a slow start is actually a masterful job of character development. The author skillfully "peels the onion" to show the complexities of the protagonists. Then when things really start moving, you are totally invested in the outcome.
As the plot progresses through increasingly complicated twists and turns, the pace continuously increases. By about three quarters through I had reached the point where every few pages I would think, 'I can't believe this is happening,' then assimilate the latest turn of events, then read another few pages and do it all over again. Wow.
Although I don't usually go so nuts over an author (click on 'see all my reviews' if you think I'm kidding), I honestly believe this one has the writing skills of a seasoned pro. I'm surprised that this is her first published book, and I eagerly await the next one."
By Teresa Cruz 'T Cruz' (New York) "When i first picked up this book i was very skeptical of its contents since after all the cover does not do it justice but after i have read it i feel like i have to re-read it just so can enjoy it again.
I was afraid this would be another one of those common girl gets girl plot...but this one was a wonderful surprise!
I recommend this book for others that are looking to read something sophisticated and a different well developed plot.
I fell in love with the characters wit and their passion for each other.
Can't wait for the next one."
"Very different ..which accounts for my 5 star rating" April 20, 2007 By Elena (Spain) - "I had a bit of a hard time with the first part of the book, but I had a good feeling about it and forced myself not to give up on it... was I ever right. From part 2 onwards this is as different a story as one would hope to find. I don't mean different in terms of the "romance", but more like the style, the smarts, and the laugh out loud scenes that are wittily different."
"An intricate novel" April 6, 2007 By Sage320 (Newport News, VA United States)"The Secret Keeping is not a book for the casual reader. It challenges your attention and requires patience as the story develops, but the wait is worth it.
Dr. Helaine Kristenson, AKA The Love Doctor, feels she is somewhat of a hypocrite. Through her best-selling book and her practice, she helps other people solve problems in their relationships, but she can't solve her own. She is trapped in a loveless long term affair with the internationally famous model Sharon Chambers, who ignores Helaine while she has numerous liaisons around the world, but who Helaine can't seem to get out of her system. Lydia Beaumont is an extremely successful investment strategist with a high powered firm on Wall Street. Although she is skilled in the bedroom, she has found her various affairs to be unsatisfying, so she has devoted herself to long hours in the office and focusing herself on her career. One of her few distractions is to meet with her friends at a bar/restaurant not far from the office and there she becomes intrigued by the woman she sees every time she is there who sits alone at a window table reading books. Eventually, Helaine and Lydia are drawn together, in great part due to the helpful machinations of a friendly waiter, and then the trouble starts. Sharon Chambers is not the kind of woman to let a lover walk away from her and she sets out to prove it. The book moves through palimony suits, corporate intrigue and the harassment of a "free press." The question finally is if two women who are basically very private can survive very public exposure and what are they willing to pay to make it happen.
The Secret Keeping can be a difficult book to grasp when you first start it. The first third tells the story from Lydia's point of view and is written in a style verging on stream of consciousness. Sometimes scenes aren't understood until you get to the end of them or even until the next scene. When Helaine's story picks up as the second third of the book, the pattern switches to long, fast paced conversations with other characters that require the reader to be paying close attention to who is talking. If you're used to quickly reading through a book, this one will force you to change your habits. The first few chapters can be very trying, but it's worth the effort. The reader will suddenly realize at some point though that a story that seemed difficult to follow has turned into a fascinating story that can't be put down. You will have to focus on this book right until the last pages to grasp all of its complexities. You may find it confusing at first, but stick it out until the end. You'll be glad you did."
"I Loved this Book!" November 30, 2006 By Fiction_Fan (USA) "Witty, sexy, and well written, this novel is easily worth the investment of time and money. It was... dare I say... **smart.** And who doesn't love that? The crisp dialogue and evocative descriptive passages drew this reader in. Just be sure to start reading when you have plenty of free time because you won't want to put it down. Best of all, in a world of dull lesbian romance clones, this book was truly unique and the author displayed a voice that was all her own. I'm eagerly anticipating future works from Francine Saint Marie!
What wasn't so great? Not a lot. But here goes... The cover does this book a great injustice. It's so dark and dreary while the novel itself is anything but gloomy. Combine that with the book's ominous title and a book buyer is likely to get a very wrong impression. Ignore these things when purchasing.
The very start of the story moved a tad slow for my tastes. When it picks up steam, it REALLY moves. But a tiny bit of patience is required to get you there.
Finally, the characters have an odd habit of referring to each other by their first and last names. OFTEN. Hearing Lydia Beaumont a million times, instead of just Lydia, got old fast.
These quirks, however,are easily overlooked in the face of solid entertainment. Overall - a great time!"
More Amazon Reviews of THE SECRET KEEPING (All editions)
"Buy The Trilogy" By A Customer - "I've just finished reading this trilogy for the second time and I reccomend it to anyone who wants to read a love story. This story has grace, charm and enough sizzle for anyone. It is a story of finding and loosing and finding again the love of a lifetime. My only reccomendation is to buy "The Secret Trilogy " because I can't fathom that anyone reading book one wouldn't want to know what happens to Lydia, Helaine and all their friends and enemies."
"Was the secret worth keeping?, September 29, 2008 By Lady J 'Jackie' (Atlanta, GA USA) - "I bought this book based solely on the reviews of the other readers since I had never read anything by Francine Saint Marie. After reading the book I had to wonder if I had read the same book as everyone else. The book did not keep my interest at all. I forced myself to finish it hoping it would get better. It didn't.
First of all, a book with no chapters is distracting and needs to hold the readers attention. This one did not. When I buy a book with a lesbian theme I want to read about the interaction between the women. The book was 309 pages and it was 150 pages before the two main characters even spoke to each other. This book is not a mystery or a thriller and as a romance novel it is lacking.
If it had been a period piece I could have tolerated it better because in the 1800's or early 1900's it was costly and dangerous to be open about being a lesbian. But this is not a period piece and these two women are independent and well off financially. One is a doctor and author, the other is a well sought after corporate executive. The book was boring and the theme overplayed.
The fact that it was given 5 starts by everyone who read it makes me no longer trust the review process. When you have a book that EVERYONE thinks is 5 star material then it's time for that book to cross over to the NY Times Best Selling List. I don't think there's any danger of that." *Comment(1)
"It doesn't get any better than this!" June 22, 2008 By Best Bets (Beverly Hills) - "As with the other reviewers here, WE LOVED THIS BOOK and this new author's compelling voice. Saint-Marie joins the ranks of Sarah Waters and Rita Mae Brown in bringing quality fiction and romance to an ailing genre, perhaps even surpassing them in presenting one of the most unique and outstanding epic love stories we've come across so far. No, The Secret Keeping, with its extraordinary prose and its unabashed tenderness and sensuality, doesn't neatly fit into any particular genre, but then who says it really has to? It's breathtaking...and that's enough."
"Unique book" May 16, 2008 By Sandmanrdh (Gilbert, az USA) "Like many of the reviewers listed above, I found Francine Saint Marie's novel to be quite unique. I had no trouble getting into the almost stream-of-consciousness flow of the dialogue and I very much enjoyed the electric pace of the book. Writing from the inner perspective of the characters was entertaining and employed a clever technique in storytelling."
"316 Stars" March 29, 2008 By K. Rose (Pacific Northwest) "My original title for this review was going to be 'raising the bar for lesbian fiction', but then I thought, well that's just not saying enough, considering where it sits. Francine Saint Marie has not just raised the bar, she's taken it to a different planet. I am currently packing up and planning to move there.
As readers of lesbian fiction, especially romance, we have come to expect, well, not very much. Even when something's good, (i.e. the writing doesn't make us cringe every few pages or so), it's really only mediocre at best. So we settle for second rate, keep our jugs of salt handy as we attempt to maneuver our way through all the 5 star reviews some of you seem to hand out like they are Halloween candy, and keep trying out new authors. Hoping and praying that one day, our luck will change, that out of the abyss will emerge someone with keen discernment and extraordinary talent, ready and willing to indulge us thoroughly. Well, that day has finally arrived, ladies. And what a glorious day it is...
Imagine, if you can, a work of lesbian fiction that leaves nothing to be desired whatsoever... that challenges your intellect, reaches into the unheralded parts of your psyche, and whispers sweet promises to your heart. Imagine prose that is masterfully subtle and invigorating, at times even intoxicating. Imagine dialogue that is intelligent, quick-witted, and never uninspired. Imagine descriptions of love-making that aren't overstated, flagrant and embarrassing, that actually leave something to the imagination but are no less titillating. Imagine having that routine cringe replaced with a contented sigh and an irrepressible grin. Indeed, you can expect no less from Francine Saint Marie's first novel (first novel?!), THE SECRET KEEPING. I haven't read anything more compelling and personally satisfying (from any genre) than this book and its sequel, FORTUNE IS A WOMAN. I am completely addicted to the author's writing - and to her leading ladies. Truth be told, Helaine and Lydia are as real to me as most of the people I encounter daily in 3-D. They are certainly far more appealing! Some might find that strange, but all I can say is it feels perfectly natural. When our outer world seems so stripped of its imaginativeness, we can, hopefully, rely on our inner world to pick up the slack.
So, thank you Francine, for such a stunning offering, for spoiling us so utterly. I am sure we could get used to it."
"Incredibly fun to read!" January 19, 2008 By kd - "I bought 'The Secret Keeping' about a year ago and immediately fell in love with Lydia and Helaine ... and Delilah and Paula ... and all the other wonderfully drawn characters in The Secret Keeping. I also fell in love with the author's prose ... I can't remember the last time I read a novel where the words jumped off the page and drew me in so quickly! If I had to describe the book in three words or less I'd say it's saucy, sexy and smart!
I recently bought the Special Edition to see if Ms. Saint Marie could improve upon perfection ... and, surprise, surprise, she did! The book is even tighter and wittier and this cover does the story justice, unlike the original.
If you're sick and tired of reading flat, simple, dull lesbian romance novels where the characters have as much depth to them as a piece of paper and the stories are as predictable as the sun rising in the east, then I suggest you buy this book, pour yourself a glass of wine (I prefer a nice, light, red), find a comfortable spot, and be prepared to be entertained and wowed!
And when you're done with this novel, the author's second offering, 'Keeping Mr. Right', awaits ..."
"Amazing!" September 27, 2007 By H. Ulla 'yazzie1111' - "The Secret Keeping is a really fabulous creation. It's clever, imaginitive, funny, sensual, sexual, surprising, exciting, mysterious - and wonderful piece of literature! I've read thousands of books in my life and I rarely get any 'surprises' any longer - but this one certainly knocked me down from almost the first page! I was constantly amazed and almost euphoric while reading it. I wanted to read it fast because I wanted to know what happens and I wanted to read it slowly because I didn't want it to end. I really admire the talent of this writer! I heard the sequel is out any day now - what a thrill! This was a rare reading experience!"
"A scintillating romp that is..." August 15, 2007 By David (Albany, New York) - "witty, sexy and fun. When you are finished, you will be left with a craving for Ms. Saint Marie's next offering. Let's hope that isn't too far off!"
"Intelligent Writing on all levels" June 21, 2007 By Queen's Jester (Road Warrior) - "This novel is everything the other reviewers have said it is - and it does not disappoint.
The writing style emulates that of the French Realists - and again, in this, it does not disappoint.
The key to enjoying this kind of work, as the other reviewers have mentioned, is patience. Seat yourself in the Frank's Place, and let the story unfold around you. If you try to rush the story along, you will no doubt have trouble seeing past the darkness. Let yourself be the voyeur and you will be ever so inspired by the strength of two women in love."
"Not Your Typical Story" May 21, 2007 By Marina Kushner "Truth About Caffeine.com" (SCR Books) - "This romance isn't your typical girl gets girl story. The sophisticated story and witty humor make it well worth your effort to wait for the tale to develop."
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