Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino

The Secret of Lies is a dark and introspective novel about one woman’s struggle to separate her past from her present. Stevie Burke is married and has a seemingly normal life in a sleepy little town. One day, she decides that she needs to break free. The reasoning is not exactly clear as she stows away in the night, but it all comes spilling out as the novel progresses.

Stevie, short for Stephanie, and her sister Eleanor spend the summers of their youth with their aunt and uncle in a beautiful house on the Atlantic Ocean. As the girls grow older and a bit different, the carefree summers begin to change. One particular summer, Eleanor, who is blossoming into a beautiful young woman, captures the attention and interest of the girls’ uncle. The two begin spending a lot of time together, much of it in secret, and the conditions at the house begin to change drastically.

When Stevie discovers the two engaged in sexual relations, she is mortified and this discovery ultimately sets the stage for a horrible tragedy. The secrets of that summer and the unfinished pieces of the story never leave Stevie and follow her into adulthood.

The Secret of Lies skips from present to past, and back to present, and author Barbara Forte Abate does a nice job of keeping the time periods easily identifiable, and the characters are all developed very well. Stevie is likeable and interesting, which helps the novel move quickly. However, I did feel that the ending of the novel was a bit lackluster and that while Stevie did receive answers to her troubling questions, there never was an exact moment that clarified that she was ready to come to terms with her past.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Barbara Forte Abate. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.