Title: Unveiled Secrets
Author: Carmen Oprea
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Unveiled Secrets is a story of how Leila Isidro, a thirty-something who struggles with her foster mother’s recent death, grows into a woman who knows where she came from and where she’s going. As such, it’s more of a women’s fiction story than pure romance, though there certainly is romance included as part of the growth.
Leila works for Denis Fraga, a handsome, mysterious man with a reputation for loving and leaving the women in his life, but when he starts pursuing Leila, he tells her this is new, this is different. But Leila struggles to believe him—she had a painful breakup with her fiancé at the altar on their wedding day— and her difficulties increase when she keeps finding Denis with Liz, a beautiful actress and model who seems quite eager to keep him attached to her.
As Leila struggles with her attraction to Denis, she starts reading a Spanish diary from the 1970s that retells the romance and life story of Clarisse, Anders, and their baby daughter. The diary is supposed to help her discover her birth mother, but the more she reads, the more questions she has.
Just as she at last gains some understanding, she finds that Denis has abandoned her for Liz once again. Exasperated, Leila leaves her life and work in New York for the serenity of Florida, using an inheritance from her birth mother to buy a boutique and house on the coast.
But even in Florida with an attractive new neighbor, she’s unable to settle down. She discovers she might have misjudged Denis even as she’s preparing to travel to Spain and meet the birth mother she’s known all her life, but only as a friend of her foster mother’s. And since Denis is also in Spain for a yearly family reunion, Leila begins to think that second chances might be possible in more areas than she suspected.
Overall, it provides a slower-paced, believable look at how people change in subtle yet tangible ways as a result of those around them. Thanks to Leila’s slow and thoughtful way of reading the journal, the pacing is maintained to where one learn things over many pages rather than in one revelation scene, and there is definitely some spice to the romance, but it’s primarily a story of growth and coming to terms with the past.
However, the characters don’t feel well-explored, as though there are depths to them which the author isn’t aware of or hasn’t examined. It isn’t that they’re two-dimensional; they seem complex and genuine, but it feels like the author glossed over really seeing them, rushing to just tell their story. Thus, their actions can lack clear motivation, even once the novel is finished, and the climax feels given away rather than earned, despite the struggles Leila faces.
Still, it’s a delightful parallel tale about facing life and love together and nicely bridges the passage of years in the character’s lives. With rich, evocative settings, this tale will appeal to readers of contemporary fiction and women’s fiction alike.
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