The Secret of Us by Liesel Schmidt

When had the man who was supposed to love me fallen out of love?

Title - The Secret of Us
Author - Liesel Schmidt 
Publication Date - April 13th 2015 
Publisher - Carina 
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)

The blurb

When your other half leaves you...

After her fiance breaks up with her in 'their restaurant', leaving her with no explanation other than an apology scrawled on a napkin, Eira no longer feels at home in North Carolina. So she leaves for the Florida coast, hoping that rebuilding her life will be easier somewhere new. But while her new home may hold no trace of the past, life doesn't always turn out the way you planned... do you know who you are?

Finally faced with the opportunity to ask her questions about love, lies, and the life she thought was hers, Eira realises that hearing the answers is going to hurt. Yet if she is brave enough to listen, finding the missing piece of the past might lead her to a brighter future than she ever thought possible...

Becca's thoughts

First of all, I'd like to thank Liesel Schmidt and her publishers Carina for providing me with a copy of The Secret of Us via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Liesel's cover when Carina revealed it over on Twitter, and it didn't take long for the need to know the story behind it to settle down and niggle at me from the back of my mind.

This is the second novel that I have had the pleasure of reading by Liesel Schmidt, the first being her debut Coming Home to You which was emotionally overwhelming from the get-go. I realised when I began reading The Secret of Us that Liesel is incredibly talented when it comes to writing emotion. It's powerful, it's heart-breaking and just so painfully raw, and just like her debut, that same talent was evidently at play in her latest release.

In The Secret of Us, Liesel focuses on the life of Eira Larson who, during the planning of her wedding to fiancé Matt and dinner at their favourite Italian restaurant, is abandoned with nothing more than a napkin, the words 'I'm sorry' scrawled on it, left behind on the table. With no explanation, no follow-up calls or texts, not even an apology, Eira is left in the dark as to what happened that night and where in the world her fiancé Matt disappeared to. As the novel progresses, Eira moves and starts life afresh, with new friends and new plans, until a strangely familiar face appears and knocks her for six. Suddenly, all of the questions that she'd so desperately wanted answers for begin to resurface and, even stranger, she might just have found the person who can provide those answers.

   Of course, things are never as simple as they first appear to be, and Liesel demonstrates that perfectly within The Secret of Us.

As soon as I was aware of Eira's situation, I couldn't quite believe it, almost as much as Eira herself. I felt confused, a little bewildered, and quite frankly, even I had questions that I wanted answers to! How was Matt able to just get up and leave Eira like that? To leave nothing but a napkin behind and not look back? This was a fantastically explosive way to begin Eira's journey and I couldn't wait to find out more, and this need to find out more propelled me surging onwards through the plot to finally have my answers, and I'm almost certain that Eira felt the exact same way. There was such a delicious concoction of mystery, betrayal and hope within The Secret of Us, as the title suggests, and all sorts of scenarios were popping up in my mind as to where Matt had disappeared to. Had he been leading a double life with a second family somewhere else? Had he just gotten bored? Had he acquired cold feet in regards to the wedding? I didn't have a bloody clue, but I can tell you one thing... I was just dying to find out. The possibilities for this novel were endless.

Accompanying Eira on her journey to discovery held some surprising moments for me as a reader, especially when unexpected turns began to change the things that I thought I knew, and I had no choice but to shift direction and go with them. There was so much depth to this novel, with all sorts of aspects which were approached tenderly by the author. From the military to intricate relationships, it could have been seen as perhaps a bit too much to take in, but I believe Liesel Schmidt handled it beautifully. With serious undertones running throughout the length of The Secret of Us, it made for a truly all-consuming read, it's tone and style completely enveloping in the best way.

Eira, to me, was a character who I warmed to immediately. I'm not sure whether it was because I felt like she deserved my sympathy or whether I respected her for picking up the pieces of her life and attempting to begin again, somewhere new. Either way, I became a firm supporter of Eira's decisions and only wished the best for her. I felt like I was right beside Eira whenever something new was revealed in the mystery of Matt's disappearance, watching her expressions flash across her features, so vivid were Liesel's descriptions. I really cared about Eira, about where she'd end up by the time The Secret of Us came to an end. I knew that what Eira had always wanted were the answers to her questions and it became incredibly important to me than she found them, so that she could put the past to rest.

As mentioned above, Liesel deals with emotions when writing in the most clear, real and raw way. She doesn't rinse her words or try to soften the blows. It is what it is, and that's how real life is. I was able to feel each of Eira's emotions as if they belonged to me, which is such a one-off thing to experience. Liesel's descriptions are stunning, so much more than words on a page, each one placed perfectly beside the next to create a sentence that knocks you off your feet. So powerful, so emotive and so damn hard to ignore.

There was so much more to this novel than I thought there would be. So much more than surprised me as my reading of it progressed. Surprises hidden around every corner, harsh truths and shocking realities, but still, at the end of it all, hope, love and the future overriding all else.

Becca's Books is awarding The Secret of Us by Liesel Schmidt with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! I was so pleased to find that Liesel hadn't lost that special touch of hers that I was first introduced to in Coming Home to You. In fact, if anything, Liesel has only honed that skill and hit me full force with it this time round. A beautiful, timeless, poignant novel that touched my heart completely.



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