||July 3, 2008
Three novels. Two women. One epic love story.
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The Secret Trilogy - Kindle Edition
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THE SECRET TRILOGY: Bargain Bundle
Digital Bargain Bundle = less than $2.99 per each book of this trilogy - complete and unabridged.
THE SECRET TRILOGY: Three novels. Two women. One epic love story.
High-profile psychiatrist, Dr. Helaine Kristenson--AKA the "Love Doc"--is not just talented and beautiful. She's the leading authority in the field of psychosexual relations and the bestselling author of the how-to bible, "Keeping Mr. Right." Professionally, the esteemed doctor deals with secrets of the heart every day. Privately, she even has a few of her own to keep her busy...
Straight-laced chief investment strategist, Lydia Beaumont, is not just talented and beautiful. She's a consummate professional and headed to the top of the corporate ladder at financial giant, Soloman-Schmitt. Professionally, she has no secrets to speak of. Privately, she's just unearthed one that's going to rock her world a bit...
Bedazzling neophyte, Venus Angelo, is not just talented and beautiful. She's a self-made millionaire ten times over again and on the fast track with her high-powered career in corporate finance. Professionally, she's a dedicated and driven perfectionist. Privately, she's full-blown enigmatic and somewhat reckless. And she's got way too many skeletons in the closet...
Savvy and seasoned investment banker, Delilah Lewiston is not just talented and beautiful. She runs the largest and most solid bank in the world. Professionally, she "speaks softly and carries a big stick" and doesn't trade or take stock in any secrets. Privately, however, she's safeguarding a couple of gems...
Controversial super-model, Sharon Chambers, is not just talented and beautiful. She's the highest paid poser on the planet. Not to mention the most spoiled and temperamental. Professionally, her life of debauchery and conquest is an open book, about which, she really doesn't give a damn. Privately, though, even she's keeping a few secrets. But that isn't going to last...
Sex, love, money, lawyers, reporters, action, adventure, intrigue and blackmail--what's your secret worth?
"Engrossing" By B. Rabkeb (Seattle, WA USA) "This was not a light, beach-read of escapist fiction. This absorbing book was not an easy read, but one with substance, in which you had to pay attention to what the author was doing with words and phrasing, changing pace and tone to bring out the nuances of her characters, their interactions, and their psychology.
Emotionally, the story of these three novels revolves around Lydia Beaumont, groomed by the formidable Paula Treadmill to succeed her in the upper echelons of their Fortune 500 financial firm, and the abiding love she has for Helaine Kristenson, which she seeks to express in the first book, then holds firm to ever after.
At the beginning of the first book Lydia has been recently unlucky in love, and only begins to emerge from her bruised numbness when she becomes unexpectedly fascinated by one Dr. Helaine Kristenson. Except she doesn't know who the famous psychiatrist is, and is in fact so absorbed in her financial world that she's wholly ignorant of pop culture to a large degree. She only knows that she can't get her out of her mind, and her life begins to open up again as she contemplates winning her affections. Little does she know that Helaine's attention has been unwillingly grabbed by tall, dark and beautiful Lydia.
There are no big dramatic scenes in these novels, in which the many simmering thoughts and emotions of the various players finally explode in great messy drama. But there is plenty of action. Machinations. Conflicting emotions. The supporting characters are each given meaty roles of their own in the intensely public and high-stakes dramas that play out involving Lydia, whose steady regard for Helaine drags her into the public eye.
These books are something of a series of character studies. The action and many of the descriptions remain fairly cerebral, versus very tactile, but this suits the characters so I can't say that it's necessarily a weakness, but it keeps the reader at something of a distance that draws you to keep reading in an effort to close the gap. The author plays with point of view, and pacing. Her use of poetry, music, lyrics and ambient sounds to change the rhythms and tones of the scenes she sets was alternately very literate, surprising, and enthralling.
I don't know whether I loved these books, but I was engrossed by the characters of Lydia and Helaine, and the way these novels were written, and indeed how the whole trilogy was structured. I'd say the first was my favorite of the three, but all had merit, and reading them was definitely a singular, intelligent, affecting experience. Those readers looking for a book with depth that can be chewed over will not be disappointed with this read. Everything is not tied up in a pretty bow, characters are not completely idealized (though they are gorgeous and financially well off, emotionally they are human and their imperfect actions and reactions reflect this), all things are not fair; the bad guys don't necessarily get their comeuppance. But in the end, that probably makes the whole journey through Lydia's life with her blonde goddess, as well as the lives of those around them, all the more profound and extraordinary."
"Three masterpieces in one neat package" August 5, 2008 By Elena (Spain) "I posted part of this review under The Stolen Kiss, but I'm posting an edited/extended version here, in case it helps understand what can be expected from this trilogy, and from this author.
Fellow readers, be prepared to be in awe, to be surprised, to be enamored by this extraordinary sequence of events and this collection of larger than life characters. If you're after content description, you won't find it from me, but I refer you to some of the reviews for the three books in the series where you can glimpse what this trilogy is about in terms of "storyline". I don't want to spoil it for anyone, suffice to say it is an epic love story. I'm more inclined to talk about the form, because, frankly, I've never read anything quite like it in the so-called "lesbian fiction" genre.
For me, the byline for the whole trilogy is intelligent writing, very bold and extremely respectful of the readers' mind -Francine Saint Marie trusts that the reader will be pulled into the lives of these characters of their own accord, without pushing them in any given direction. The reader, in turn, is hereby advised to trust this writer and her masterful skill to accompany us for the ride, from a distance. She won't take your hand and smooth the way for you, though, more likely you'll feel about to be pushed from a cliff, no parachute in sight.
This trilogy is a mental trip of intense feelings, of understanding that what isn't said is just as powerful as what is said, of sitting there stunned between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, thinking "what now". The three installments are a masterpiece of fluid consistency, of powerful and elusive characters that you want to know more of but you can't expect to until they are good and ready.
This is true for the three books of the trilogy, but of course The Secret Keeping caught me unawares, being the first and all. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I know it rocked my world. I've read critics comparing this author to Virginia Wolf or Sarah Waters, and I'd think that'll give any reader an idea that this is very far from formulaic, plain writing, and very close to the very best of contemporary English literature. Smart, unique, engaging are the words used by reviewers to describe this first in the trilogy. Indeed, for me the pull and force of the story lays fundamentally in the way it's told, it is a romance, yes, but it is so much more in terms of literary currency. This is not a book you can rush through, it isn't a book where you can take anything for granted either, it's too sophisticated for easy guesses and easy ways out.
Fortune Is a Woman picked up the narrative with a slightly different twist, it isn't arranged in "parts" but in chapters, there are more characters and more points of view (no, the two don't necessarily go hand in hand in most novels) -and this is a prelude to what you'll find in "The Stolen Kiss" in terms of style. Book 2 defines its very essence in the preface, if you're so smart as to "get it" right there. It took me slightly longer, I'm not ashamed to admit, but when I did, I understood why the book started out as "Keeping Mr Right" but was later "renamed" to "Fortune is a Woman". (Both titles work, I think it's just a matter of point of view, at which this author is so adept.)
The Stolen Kiss is as much a well paced thriller as it is a complicated love story, it's as much a detailed, larger than life depiction of human motives and interactions as it is an amazingly simple and recognizable description of following one's heart. The book reads exceedingly well as a continuum, but at the same time it can be savored as a fantastic collection of stories, a multifaceted, multidimensional Rubik Cube. Each chapter, and each character, describes one and the same story from different points of view, and that allows the reader, this reader anyway, to "feel something" for all protagonists, to feel a certain degree of empathy for all of this author's creatures, while gaining a very rich perspective on the complexities of the story and indeed the complexities of human nature.
The biggest creature in the whole trilogy, yet, is the literary tour de force that the writer pulls out of her hat. The narrative, the dialog, the "gaps" that are created by the different points of view (pay attention to chapter titles!) only to be closed later by a different point of view, are all consistent with the previous installments and all contribute to create a world were the reader's mind is free to speculate and to ponder, just as one would do in real life, and just the same end up surprised that life has an agenda of its own, not necessarily in tune with all the speculation and the pondering.
I'm left with a very strong feeling that these characters dictated where the story went, I never along the trilogy felt that the writer was "manipulating" them (much less myself) in any given direction, on the contrary, at times I felt torn at their decisions and didn't fully understand their motives. I always felt that they were the ones speaking through the writer, instead of the writer speaking through them, and this is particularly true of "The Stolen Kiss". The characters' drivers --love and hate and vengeance and power and interests, are what moves this epic story along, and it's a funny feeling, like the writer was never there, or just acted as a messenger. Personally, I think that requires extraordinary talent.
I already said, but it bears repeating: There is nothing ordinary about this trilogy, it's totally original, absolutely unique --after every few pages it begs the question "how did that happen and what on earth can I expect next?" I think the trilogy, and very specially the last installment, requires a lot of trust in the author, that's she'll close the loops, that she'll make it all coalesce not only for the readers' sake but mostly for the characters' sake.
And she does. Does she ever. Bravo, Francine, bravissimo."
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