Best Kept Secrets by Kandi Steiner
I am changing my MO slightly by reviewing two of the books in this series in one. I will explain why I am not reviewing the third. I find myself extremely conflicted in writing this review.
Charlie's marriage is dying. She's perfectly content to go down in the flames, until her first love shows back up and reminds her the other way love can burn.
On the northeast side of town, there is a house. The house was once magical, filled with love and joy and plans for the future. Inside its walls are many things that belong to me — my books, the china from my mother on my wedding day, the beautiful cage once home to two birds, now empty, just like me. And a man. A man who also belongs to me. A man I no longer wish to keep. A man who, no doubt, has not slept, though the sun is rising. Because the house where he waits is where I laid my head to rest every night for eight years. Until last night. No one who knows me would believe Charlie Pierce, the quiet, bookish girl who never made waves is pulling out of the driveway of a man who isn’t her husband. But they don’t know me at all. I don’t even know me. Not anymore. They say there are two sides to every story, and I suppose in most cases, that’s true. But the one I live inside of? It has three. On the northeast side of town, there is a house. But there is no longer a home.
3 / 5
I really struggled with rating this story because if I was rating 'What he doesn't know,' I would have rated it higher but if I had rated 'What he always knew,' then I would have scored lower. My low opinion of the second book is the reason why I didn't bother to read the last in the series. The third book centres around the man Charlie didn't choose.
I liked the first story. Charlie's relationship with her husband Cameron has broken down and she doesn't know how to reach him. They both deal with the loss of their twin sons in different ways, which has fractured their relationship beyond repair.
Reese, Charlie's childhood friend comes back into her life just when she needs him. He understands her grief because he has been there himself. Reese was 'the one who got away' and the pull to him is still as strong as it ever was.
The first story flits between Charlie and Reese's perspectives. Cameron's voice doesn't make an appearance until right at the end. This is the right thing to do. We invest ourselves in Charlie and Reese's love story. I was rooting for them. It was clear that Charlie and Cameron had grown apart.
I felt like I could sympathise with the conflicting emotions Charlie was going through in the first novel. She loved her husband but she had not been able to reach him in years. Reese became her friend again and opened up a side of her she no longer thought existed.
'What he always knew,' ruined my perception of the two main characters in the first book. Every redeeming qualities Charlie and Reese had was obliterated in the second story. Reese turned into a spineless, and quite frankly idiotic character. This was such a stark contrast to the compassionate, understanding person he was in the first.
Charlie became the biggest disappointment. She was so conflicted in the first book and you could really feel how much she didn't want to hurt either of the men she found herself in love with. Charlie became a selfish, self-centred person. She had no regard to how she was hurting either Cameron and Reese in the second novel. Her motto was more tit for tat and I found that concept rather childish. She thought she was justified in the way she was behaving but it made her extremely unlikable. Charlie didn't think twice about repeatedly stabbing both Cameron and Reese in the heart when she was meant to love them. She flaunted her feelings for them to the other and didn't care she was ripping them to pieces. By the end, I thought she deserved to end up alone.
I enjoyed the first story which is why I have given a rating of three. Perhaps I am alone in my opinion of the second but I felt the characters who were created in the first, disappeared in the second which meant that I was not rooting for their happy ever after.