The Secrets We Keep, Logan Meredith
Rating: 3.75 Stars
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Second Chances, Sweet, Family Issues. **TW: Eating Disorders + Secondary Character Mental Health, Prior Cheating
Length: 280 Pages
Purchase At: Riptide Publishing (**4th of Oct Release)
A first love. A weighty secret. One last chance to make it right.
Adam is either the man Cade loves to hate or the man he hates to love, and it changes hourly. They’ve been stuck in a cycle of hookups and breakups since Adam’s infidelity ended their relationship four years ago. But when a guys’ trip to Hawaii results in the engagement of their close friends, Cade and Adam decide to give it one more shot—a real shot. Monogamy, dating, communication . . . the works. But Cade has a secret, and if Adam finds out, it could easily blow their fledgling relationship apart.
Adam knows this is his last chance with Cade, and he’s resolved to show he’s changed. He’s distanced himself from his toxic family, shed his immature ways, and become a thriving graphic designer. He’s determined to regain Cade’s trust and prove once and for all they are meant to be together. But in trying so hard to be the perfect boyfriend and support Cade through a family crisis, he might miss what’s happening right under his nose.
When Cade’s long-concealed eating disorder relapses, he faces a choice: confide in Adam and risk destroying their last chance to be together, or keep it hidden and risk his recovery. But if he can find the strength to forgive and have faith in Adam again, he might be able to have both.
** TREAT AS SPOILERISH**
I’ll start by saying that I rarely request books anymore for review. I thought this sounded like it had some teeth, a new to me author was good as well. The book really doesn’t have any teeth as such, but it does cover a serious mental health issue or two. It’s also quite the ensemble cast with six friends, four of whom are now paired up, and then there’s Cade and Adam, the MCs, who were a couple before Adam cheated when they were younger, and then there’s their respective families.
Both Adam and Cade have maintained an on-again-off-again relationship, as well as a friends with benefits relationship for quite a few years since the infidelity. They’ve just kept gravitating back to one another. Cade has struggled getting over that one night of infidelity, but they have always remained friends with intense feelings that have been hard to deny. Now two of the group are going to Hawaii to get engaged, and with them all going along to be a part of it, it brings Cade and Adam’s relationship well and truly into the spotlight. This time they both seem to want to try for a permanent relationship, they do have a magnetic pull after all, but it isn’t necessarily going to be all that easy.
What I liked about the book-
I liked the social circle of friends, they cared about Cade and Adam and didn’t take sides. Everyone knew how both guys felt and why, but they didn’t push or be painful about anything, they simply supported.
Maura, Cade’s older sister, has bipolar and is difficult sometimes, other times she is good. She was there for Cade when growing up and worked hard to support Cade when their family didn’t, and when Cade needed it. She isn’t a fan of Adam’s, though, and tends to have an opinion. She has a daughter, Hayley, and now Cade is helpful with Hayley when Maura needs some directional parenting, or for Uncle Cade to step in. Maura also helps at a critical time again for Cade. So I liked their flawed but real relationship.
I know Adam accepted a blowjob off another guy when he was away when Cade refused to go, but he was young, they both were. This time they’re that bit older, and Adam absolutely reiterates how sorry he is for what happened. He wants things to be slower this time, to date Cade – no more fuck buddies – but Cade is still hung up, to a degree, on the infidelity, although there is more to it than that. Cade’s feelings certainly come from a place of abandonment and insecurity which is to do with his family of origin. This also fuels his eating disorder, a primary arc.
The ED was handled, I felt, with quite a degree of care and seeming passion by the author. Cade is terrified of letting anyone know he has anorexia. It’s always there but he has especially triggered times of fighting a very powerful inner voice about (not) eating. This development between him and Adam, the potential deeper connection, dealing with family issues as well are triggers. He and Maura both understand having an unhealthy inner voice. Maura battles a similar thing as part of her bipolar so she gives some personal advice to Cade at a time when it was really needed.
Both families are different, Adam from a wealthy family who expects high achievers. Cade is from a family who has battled poverty and absentee parenting and loss. Both families have their say, sometimes it’s unpalatable, judgemental, and sometimes it’s helpful in its own way. Neither family is painted as being superior or inferior, they just are.
Adam is also impacted by Cade’s ED, although at first he didn’t know it. Now, when he finally finds out, he has a lot of regret about never noticing, but people with eating disorders are adroit at hiding it. They were young guys when first together and originally Cade didn’t have to try too hard to hide anything, but this time Cade is more unstable and more stealthy, it’s part of the title – the “secrets” that are kept. Cade doesn’t fess up about what’s going on. He isn’t able to trust anyone about it. Not his best friend, Siddarth, not his prior and now newly minted partner, Adam, which hurts Adam. It simply makes Adam feel all kinds of an arsehole for not noticing. But as I said, people with EDs are very covert and clever at hiding it, and for all the fears and inner demons that drive them in the first place.
I found the writing style to be pretty easy going. Definitely good for a weekend read with a cuppa.
What didn’t work so much-
At the beginning I felt like I’d been dropped into the middle of something that seemed like I should have known more about – like these characters had been in another book… and maybe they had been. However, that feeling passed after a while.
This wasn’t a particularly sensitive part of the book. I understand contextually what was trying to be conveyed, however, ‘mental’ isn’t a word I would use to describe anything. I believe it continues to stigmatise people who have mental health illness or disorders. I have an ARC so maybe this is being sorted out.
I rolled my eyes comically. She was right, the voice sounded a bit mental, but it was the only way I’d figured out to describe it to people who didn’t understand.
Although I felt the romance to a degree, there is no strong chemistry in this book. I liked Adam and Cade, they did seem good together, but I didn’t love them. If I had loved them I would have gone up somewhat in my rating.
I also think at 280 pages it’s a little too long and a red pen could have been taken to some introspection or description.
The Secrets We Keep is pretty easy reading for the most part. It also offers more than a cursory look at something that causes many people great anguish, EDs, and I respect and appreciate that. It has a contemporary romance at its heart, along with family and their flaws, typical of real life, and friends who cared, and most people ended up or continued to give support. It also has a happy ending, something romance readers enjoy. 3.75 Stars!