Book Review, Romance Review, Romance Serial

Review: A Secret For A Secret by Helena Hunting

A Secret For A Secret - Helena Hunting All In series book 3
A Secret For A Secret – Helena Hunting All In series book 3

From New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting comes a new romance about trading secrets, breaking the rules, and playing for keeps.

My name is Ryan Kingston, and I’m a rule follower. I’ve never been in a fistfight. I always obey the speed limit. I don’t get drunk, and I definitely don’t pick up random women at bars.

Except the night I found out that my whole existence has been a lie.

I got drunk. And picked up a stranger.

Her name was Queenie, and she was everything I’m not: reckless, impulsive, and chaotic. We did shots and traded secrets. And ended up naked at my place.

She left me a thank-you note in the morning and her panties as a parting gift. But no way to contact her.

Six weeks later I’m sitting in the first official team meeting of the season, and there she is. I neglected to mention that I’m the goalie for Seattle’s NHL team.

And Queenie? Turns out she’s the general manager’s daughter.

We got to know Ryan Kingston as Bishop Winslow’s best friend and know he’s a very straight-laced, milk drinking kind of guy. The idea of him picking up a stranger at the bar for a night of passion doesn’t quite gel with the character so I couldn’t wait to find out more. The initial meeting between the two is pretty casual and doesn’t leave the impression that this is a love for the ages so I was interested to see what brought them back together. Ryan’s attracted to Queenie’s outgoing and creative personality and she can’t resist him because he’s the sweetest man she’s ever met. I expected her working for the team or him playing for her father would be the major obstacle for the couple but Hunting doesn’t take the easy way out and makes it much more interesting.

One thing we have to address here is the names. I try not to be negative in my reviews and not to be overly critical because writing isn’t easy and writing well is harder still. I don’t post reviews for books I really don’t like a book and would never suggest to others. It seems kind of petty and self-serving, not to mention pretentious but it would be dishonest to withhold all criticism, especially minor stuff like this. Calling the heroes in this series Rook, Bishop and King is super corny but I can live with it since they have relatively minor roles in one another’s story. However, Queenie is just too ridiculous for words though, especially with his nickname so the names annoyed me enough to be a bit of a distraction throughout the story. I still enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it.

Queenie’s a college dropout who doesn’t know what to do with her life and she carries an immense burden, considering herself a failure and a parasite on her father. After all, he sacrificed his career as an NHL player to be a single dad and has spent his life taking care of her, which includes bailing her out time and time again. At twenty-four, she should be self-sufficient and career-oriented, not living in his guest house and incapable of holding a job. This kind of angst could be annoying in a character but it’s understandable here and Queenie’s backstory makes her a very sympathetic character. Her mom took off when she was just a few months old but has sporadically popped back into Queenie’s life just enough to destroy her daughter’s self-esteem and undermine any confidence the girl has ever mustered.

Through the years, her mother has convinced Queenie that her very existence was a mistake that destroyed her parents’ relationship when in fact her mother’s self-entitlement and lies were the real problem. Queenie was one semester away from graduating with dual degrees in art and psychology with the intention of becoming an art therapist for children when mom popped back into her life to tell her pursuing those degrees was a waste of time and her father’s money since her art is no good and Queenie quit school. Now she bounces around between dead-end jobs, never developing the skills to excel anywhere until taking on the job as her father’s assistant.

For the first time, she’s good at something and while she doesn’t want to do this for the rest of her life, it gives her an opportunity to rebuild the self-worth she so desperately lacks. Despite the no fraternization policy for players and employees, Ryan’s request to date Queenie is granted because he’s a model player. The front office knows he won’t shirk his duties to the team or thumb his nose at the rules so they can be together and they’re really great together. He’s working hard to help her appreciate her own talents and she’s trying hard to believe that she’s worthy.

Working there also puts Queenie in frequent contact with the Waters family since Alex is head coach and their daughter, Lavender. The little girl suffers from severe anxiety and crippling shyness but she easily warms to Queenie and opens up to her like no one else. She decides that career in art therapy isn’t such a bad idea after all and applies to the local university, intent on finally finishing her degree. The two have never been happier and they’re both on top of the world, until a mid-season trade upends their world by revealing a dark secret from Queenie’s past that will shock everyone, especially King and Jake. She’s done nothing wrong but still managed to hurt the two people she loves most and soon spirals back into self-loathing.

Ryan’s got issues of his own because his family is a handful of insane dynamics and they cause no shortage of problems for him and for his relationship with Queenie. This story had some fresh turns from what I expected, which was really nice, and also brings back a minor character from an earlier book to play a pretty significant role, which was fun. Their story isn’t as LOL funny as Stevie and Bishop’s and doesn’t quite reach the level of emotional that I got from Rook and Lainey, but it’s a great read with likeable characters and a perfect lead-in to A Kiss For A Kiss, Jake’s story, which will be released on May 27.

All of the books in the series can stand alone or be read as a series but I encourage any interested readers to start at the beginning.

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