Open Secret: Lost ... But Not Forgotten
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton
n this first in a trilogy, Suzanne Chauvin seeks two siblings she has not seen since she was six years old. When their parents died in an accident, Suzanne was sent to live with an aunt and uncle. But Miles and Jeanne Fulton sent Linette and Lucien Chauvin (six months and three years old at the time, respectively) to live in foster homes. Suzanne always vowed to find them, feeling responsible for her siblings despite her young age. After searching for three years on her own, she hires ex-cop Mark Kincaid, who makes a living searching for missing people. He locates Carrie St John, who was Linette Chauvin twenty-five years before.
arrie was raised by a wealthy couple in the Seattle area, who never told her she was adopted. All her life she was frustrated, wondering why she had such a hard time pleasing her parents. When Mark seeks her out so that she can be reunited with her long lost sister Suzanne, Carrie is devastated. Most of the book focuses on Carrie's coming to terms with a family that she never knew existed. She is angry with her adoptive parents, who lied to her, while the St. Johns are upset that Carrie knows the truth, because like many in their situation, they fear losing her to her biological family. Mark in the meantime has his own baggage to deal with. He has a five-year old adopted son Michael who yearns for a real mother (Mark's wife Emily died a few years before, during a high-risk pregnancy).
hile the book has a great premise, I found there were too many subplots. I had no interest in Mark's undercover work, and would have preferred more on Emily and Mark's story. I also had a hard time liking either Carrie or Mark, who both whined a lot. I did enjoy the reunion between the sisters, Suzanne and Carrie. Their newfound relationship felt realistic and their happiness was quite a welcome change from the negative aspects of Carrie's discovery of her adoption.
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