Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Madeline and Daphne grew up as close as sisters, until, at the age of twelve, Maddie is attacked one night in her grandmother's hotel. Daphne saves her from a worse fate, but Madeline's grandmother and Daphne's mother separate the girls and each move far away from the hotel in Washington state--and all the secrets it holds. However, 18 years later, Madeline and Daphne find themselves back at the hotel, after the death of Madeline's grandmother. Madeline receives a call from the hotel's caretaker, Tom, which causes her to return. Scared and afraid, she returns with Jack Rayner, her recently hired new security consultant. But can Jack protect Madeline (and Daphne) from the secrets hiding in wait on the island?
Per usual, I can't remember why I put this book on my library list, but I probably read a review somewhere. I did not realize it was written by an author who has truly written hundreds of books under various pseudonyms and hence has probably a fairly formulaic approach to writing. The book is more enjoyable if you just sort of embrace that and give into the "cheesiness factor" -- otherwise, it's a little too much at times.
It's a decently plotted mystery - the romance portion seems rather lacking, though. The character development is really thin, and hence the characters' motives and actions all seem really overblown. A lot of their actions are extreme without any background to justify them. Madeline, Jack, Daphne, and Jack's brother, Abe, are interesting characters, but you just don't get enough about them to really know them, or know what's behind them - beyond grand sweeping gestures and ideas ("something bad happened, so she or he is beyond damaged FOREVER!"). The various characters presented as villains are even more caricatured - all the way down to a pyromaniac brother who is portrayed as one step away from the insane asylum at every second.
The plot keeps you guessing, somewhat, even if I figured it out pretty early on (it's so clearly thought to be someone, that you realize it can't possibly be that easy). It's kind of sad, because Jack and Maddie definitely had possibility, as did Daphne and Abe. I could see all four being follow-up/sequel characters if they had more definition and grit to them. This is a fairly quick read with a serviceable mystery plot, but mostly it leaves you wanting more (especially if you are looking for romance).
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