RACHEL, saved from an attack twelve years before by a faceless stranger, never got to thank him, never knew his name.
Despite the devastation she chose to rise above it to help others from their pain by becoming a psychologist…
Her only issue now is that she’s an expert at fixing everyone else’s problems, and blind to her own.
After a long relationship with her boyfriend WILL starts to go south, she turns to her best friend AMELIA for guidance.
Suddenly her world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes and she’s left with no one to comfort her but Will’s rude older brother RUARI.
Paralyzed by fear, she struggles to take grip of her life, until the day when anonymous letters begin to appear from the stranger who saved her twelve years before.
What I Thought:
The Secret Letters has a very interesting concept at its heart for a romantic novel. The novel starts in an incredibly dramatic way, in the aftermath of an assault – switch forward twelve years and Rachel is now using her experience in a positive way, as a psychologist, helping others in the way she found help before. We don’t know at this point how she has got to a good place in her life, and been able to dull the memory of her assault, but when she is attacked again in her own home, we find out that she found strength in receiving mysterious letters twelve years ago and that, in the aftermath of her attack, they have started to arrive once again.
On reading through the book and into the afterword, you will find that the basis for this book is a friend of the author who suffered a similar home invasion and assault to Rachel but from these quite horrific beginnings, Taryn Leigh manages to write sensitively about the event itself, and about the process by which Rachel begins to move through it and learn to live her life without fear once again.
Despite this event, and other things going on in her life where Rachel is let down by those who are closest to her, she is able to find strength in the secret letters of the title, but they are never an emotional crutch – more like a reminder through the mail that she is stronger than she feels she can be and that she will get to a good place in her life again.
Above all, I felt that Rachel was an incredibly human character. So often in fiction, the ones we are supposed to root for are just perfect in every way but Rachel is likeable and still has the flaws that we are all prone to sometimes.
I’m not sure whether I’ve actually ever before read a contemporary book set in South Africa and Taryn Leigh was able to bring the location fully to life, so much so that I’ve been checking up on some of the areas and tourist attractions that she mentions. Excellently described I think.
This book should come with a trigger warning for assault and stalking, but I feel that all of the traumatic events are handled sensitively, and the book ultimately ends on a hopeful note.
This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of The Secret Letters. Be sure to check out some of the blogs featured below for more reviews, content and giveaways.
Please note: I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.