Lord of Secrets is the story of a young woman, Rosalie Whitwell, who’s spent most of her life sailing the globe with her father. When he suffers a fatal heart attack in the middle of the North Atlantic, she turns in her panic to a fellow passenger–the moody, mysterious Lord Deal.
Having witnessed his father’s suicide years before, David Linney, Marquess of Deal, has withdrawn from society, living the life of a recluse. Even so, he’s drawn to his pretty shipmate, like him the victim of family tragedy.
The end of the voyage spurs David to propose. But on their wedding night, Rosalie meets with an unwelcome surprise: her handsome husband is strangely unwilling to consummate the marriage. Is her own lack of allure to blame, or is there some other reason for David’s reluctance? To find the answer, Rosalie must unlock the secret of David’s past.
I am usually a fan of tortured heroes, characters who do not think they are good enough or unworthy of love. There’s just something about those types of characters and their journey to self-acceptance that gets me every time. Given my love of a good tortured hero, I really expected to like Lord of Secrets. Instead I found that the buildup to the big secret to be overly drawn out, causing me to lose interest along the way.
The book got off to a pretty good start, with Rosalie and Deal meeting aboard a ship returning to England. Lord Deal is a solitary figure, seen as haughty and moody by his fellow passengers. However, Rosalie sees a different side to him, one that is reinforced after the sudden death of her father, when Lord Deal becomes a confidant and friend. He surprises her even more when he proposes to her.
I thought that Lord Deal and Rosalie has some very promising chemistry. Their interactions were sweet and a little awkward. Though it appears as if Lord Deal doesn’t like people, it becomes clear in his interactions with Rosalie that perhaps some of that is due to some social awkwardness and also need to conceal his big secret. They finally arrive in London and get married, despite Deal’s warning to Rosalie that he will only hurt her.
Now this is where it kind of went south for me. They two get married and it’s clear that something is up because Deal will not consummate their marriage. There’s a lot of inner dialogue from Deal and he is consumed with guilt – from this secret and also from keeping his secret from Rosalie. It started to become clear to me that we weren’t going to learn what Deal’s secret was for some time. I held out hope at the 50% mark, then 60%, 70%…
We don’t learn what the big secret is until about 80% in and, by that time, I was a fed up with both of them. Deal was very moody – attentive and charming one minute but aloof and cold the next. Keeping his secret resulted in him treating Rosalie very poorly and I was mad at him for it. It was no wonder that Rosalie started having doubts about his feelings towards her. And Rosalie, while very sweet and understanding, was a little too understanding at times. I wanted her to get mad and yell at Deal for acting like an ass. She didn’t show much gumption but, when she did, sparks flew. There was definitely potential there but it never really panned out.
Since most of the book is the buildup to the revelation of the big secret, I really wish we had gotten more time to see the characters deal with it. I felt like it just wrapped up too quickly and we missed a chance to really get at the heart of these characters.
While it has some sweet and funny moments, overall, Lord of Secrets was a bit of a letdown for me. The chemistry of the characters fizzled while we waited to learn the big secret and the payoff wasn’t worth the wait.