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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dirty Little Secrets by Erin Ashley Tanner

Print Length: 193 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (July 21, 2015)
Publication Date: July 21, 2015

Dirty Little Secrets is the story of a widowed mob wife named Ava. Ava's not your sit-at-home mob wife - she''s a successful business woman who owns her own company as well. In the story Ava discovers that her dead husband has a grown son that she was never aware of named Dominic. Dominic makes his presence known when he demands part of the inheritance left to her daughter. Ava soon discovers that her life has become a lot more dangerous and that Dominic isn't the only dirty little secret that her husband has kept from her...

What I liked
The story is pretty well-paced and, other than the romantic aspect, it doesn't feel rushed. Flashbacks can be tricky for some authors to pull off as they run the risk of pulling the readers out of the moment, and if not properly executed they can confuse some. In addition, they also have to be of enough importance that the reader doesn't mind the interruption. I feel like the author handled the frequent flashbacks very well. While there were a good number of them, they were vital to the story. Honestly, I felt they were some of the best parts of the book and provided much needed insight on Ava and her life. There were also some rather nice twists and turns in Dirty Little Secrets that were unexpected and kept the story going for me.

What I didn't like
The Characters. Honestly I really didn't like or care about any of the characters in the book. Let's start with Ava. I get it. She's supposed to be the widow of a mafia boss, a strong, no-nonsense business woman, and a survivor. The problem is she just comes across as unlikable. Give me a heroine who is strong and confident. She shouldn't take mess from anyone considering what she's gone through. She should demand and command respect. But this character? It seemed like the author was trying too hard to make her tough.
Dominic came off as someone who couldn't be trusted. Their love? I wasn't buying it. The author gave me no reason why these two fell in love. Dominic watching Ava from afar doesn't boil down to love. Infatuation or obsession? Yup! Love? Nope. I ain't buying it. Ava's brother-in-law is yet another character that was a miss for me. He was predictable and read like a stereotype.

I would be remiss if I didn't note my dislike of this particular cover. Ava is indeed an African-American woman. She is described as having honey skin, hazel eyes, and blonde hair, and the character mentions the fact that she is African-American at the beginning of the book. I get the blond hair on the cover model, but despite attempts to darken the the black and white image, the model portraying Ava doesn't look like a black woman to me. While this doesn't figure into how I rate the book, (I realize that the author doesn't pick the cover photo) but it bothered me enough to mention it anyway.

My Final Thoughts
Overall this story was a miss for me. While I generally like female characters that aren't helpless or weak, Ava's character just rubbed me the wrong way. Sure she was the wife of a mob boss and had to be tough, but she came off as a caricature of a mob wife/tough woman in my opinion.  Some may feel otherwise, but I personally just didn't like the character on any level. As noted previously, all of the characters just didn't really work for me on some level, and although I thought the premise was a good one, it just wasn't a book that I cared enough about.
If you like the idea of a tougher than nails mafia wife who takes absolutely nothing from absolutely anyone, then this may be a book worth giving a try. There are some very good flashbacks that I really do feel added to the story. For me it wasn't enough. I'm giving Dirty Little Secrets a 2.5 out of 5 star rating..

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