It’s the age-old story: a man and a woman meet in a hotel. Both cheating on their spouses. Both unwilling to give up. Totally not prepared for what could happen when he drops dead. Now there are consequences. Lives ruined. Secrets kept at what cost? Nothing will ever be the same…
Je t’aime… you will never know how much I love you. Promise me one thing: when it’s time to leave, you must start to look forward to our next meeting.
Jacques, in: ‘His Guilty Secret’
What do you do when your lover says this to you? You cry. And make love. And cry again. Isabelle has no idea yet that there will be no next meeting. Unlike Jacques, she is unhappy in her marriage. She needs to be at Jacques’ grave but Patricia spots her. Patricia, Jacques’s widow who until recently thought she was in the perfect marriage and had no idea her husband had betrayed her.
Everything changes – Patricia is determined to find out why Jacques was at that hotel and her suspicions of his having an affair grow stronger by the day. But that is not all Patricia has to deal with. Estranged relations, friendships under pressure, secrets that cannot stay hidden …
The title says ‘His Guilty Secret’ but is it? After all, all parties involved kept the secret even if Jacques manipulated them into doing so. Even if they didn’t want to – they did. At first, I empathised with our adulterous couple, Isabelle and Jacques, so much passion between them that I couldn’t help but think they had to be together. However, apologising to the woman you’re with and tell her you never meant to hurt your wife is stretching it a bit far, Jacques!
The characters in ‘His Guilty Secret’ each have their own piece of guilt to deal with, apart from Patricia, that is. She is almost too good to be true. I liked that she became a little ‘bitchier’ further in the book – I admire how she was determined to find out the truth, no matter what. Although being bitchy to her best friend, Clemency, … that was an unexpected character trait to find in Patricia! If your best friend doesn’t tell you the truth, they aren’t much of a friend. The fact that Clemency did and that Patricia told her off without even considering Clemency’s feelings … no, sorry!
All the characters in this book are portrayed in such a way, that the reader comes to understand them and is even able to predict how they will behave. And somehow, most of them are connected to each other. The author doesn’t let you off the hook easily – not until you know of each character, even the ones that play but a little role, how their future is shaped.
My heart went out to Jasmine – even if she did foolish things – I could empathise with her having such profound feelings of insecurity. And with Coco, who went through hell. I think her sister-in-law was a bit unfair. What do you do when you are forced to choose between blood and friendship? What do you do when you are manipulated in keeping a secret even if you know it will create irreparable harm to your best friend?
And yet, and yet, I interpret Jacques’s last words as an acknowledgment of the fact, he’d been wrong by forcing ‘this’ to be a secret. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic but I think his dying words show his change of heart. Maybe his death set in motion a process of healing, of bonds, formed and tightened, of new beginnings.
‘His Guilty Secret’ is emotive, at times gripping, and fascinating. A book about life and how to cope with what life throws at you. A book about forgiveness and the devastating impact of secrets and the consequences of decisions taken.
About the Author
Hélene Fermont writes character-driven psychological crime fiction with a Scandi Noir flavour. Known for her explosive, pacy narrative and storylines, she has published three novels – Because of You, We Never Said Goodbye and His Guilty Secret – and two short story collections – The Love of Her Life and Who’s Sorry Now? Her fourth novel is due for release in the summer of 2019.
After 20 years in London, Hélene recently returned to her native Sweden where she finds the unspoiled scenery and tranquillity a therapeutic boost for creativity. Enjoying a successful career as a Psychologist, when she’s not working her ‘day job’, Hélene spends her time writing, with friends and family, or playing with her beloved cat, Teddy.
All of her novels can be purchased via her website helenefermont.com/books/
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‘His Guilty Secret’ can be purchased at Amazon
|Publisher||Fridhem Publishing (8 Nov. 2017)|