"I, Cassie Robichaud, solemnly swear to serve S.E.C.R.E.T. to the best of my abilities. I will do what is necessary, what is right and what is within my power to assist in the execution of sexual fantasies for our participant(s)..." And so begins S.E.C.R.E.T. II, which opens with Cassie's initiation into this mysterious organization, one that helps women experience their most potent sexual fantasies. Cassie spends the next year as a "S.E.C.R.E.T. member-at-large," not quite a guide, she'll assist Committee members (including two new ones, Kit DeMarco and Angela Rejean) in recruiting men and helping to execute a new inductee's fantasies. After a false start with the first potential inductee, Cassie makes the acquaintance of Dauphine Gray, a 31-year old who works at the Funky Monkey vintage clothing store on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Geeky, gawky and easily distracted, Dauphine has no idea how attractive she really is because her face is forever in a book. Reading is her passion, music is her pleasure, and Dauphine's all but given up on sex, especially after a painful rejection that still haunts her. Then Cassie and the women from S.E.C.R.E.T. show her it's possible to reignite that flame. Meanwhile, Cassie must work through her resentment over losing Will to Tracina and their future baby. But when paternity questions surface, Tracina threatens to expose Cassie's S.E.C.R.E.T. membership to the one man both women love. Will Tracina expose Cassie to Will, and if she does, what will he make of his secret love's S.E.C.R.E.T. life?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to review an ARC of this novel.
First off, let me say that this is the first time I am reviewing something of the more spicy adult variety on this blog. Second, I really wish I had read "S.E.C.R.E.T." first, as "S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared" is the second book in this series by L. Marie Adeline. And third, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book!
The characters, while not always completely realistic, are at least likable. I like that Dauphine is not confident in her looks or size, because hey, who of us have not been there? She has a massive crush on a musician, but does not think he would ever give her a second glance. Cassie has a real conundrum, being in love with her boss who has impregnated her friend - wait, did you get that? They can't be together, because Will's about to be a daddy, but that doesn't stop Cassie from wishful thinking. Anyway, I liked both women, and could empathize with both of them.
Where this book really shines is in plot and setting. It doesn't get better than New Orleans for a romantic setting, does it? Dauphine also gets to go on a nice flight to somewhere exotic. Don't want to spoil that for anyone! And then there's the plot. Really, a secret society devoted to fulfilling women's sexual fantasies? That's... kind of cool! I like the idea, and it's executed in a way that isn't disgusting, trashy, or obscene. Call it "Erotica Lite", if you will.
Now, I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that the ending thoroughly surprised me!