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The Secret Sister

(Fairham Island #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  4,706 ratings  ·  652 reviews
Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who's asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 28th 2015 by Mira Books
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Quick summary
Maisey Lazarow returns home to Fairham Island following her failed marriage, writer's block and need to reconnect with her troubled brother, Keith. She wasn't prepared to be reunited with her high school fling, Rafe Romero who's a very different man from his teenage persona.

What worked
The story was interesting as Maisey's story unfolded slowly, filling in the blanks as she first seemed elusive. She was frustrating at times as she appeared to lack conviction, especially when confron
The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak is a 2015 MIRA publication.

I found this story to be very fascinating, with Gothic undertones, which is right up my alley.

Reeling from a series of emotional punches, children’s author Maisey Lazarow returns home to Fairham to be closer to her brother, Keith, a man suffering from addictions, who recently attempted to take his own life.

But, Maisey refuses to stay at the sprawling manor she grew up in, due to the torn relationship with her overbearing and control
Paula M
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, for-review

"..but secrets don't remain secrets forever..."

 Well, wow. The Secret Sister is full of intensity that I did not fully expect. From the second chance romance that kept me asking for more to the nail biting mystery, The Secret Sister is perfect for every readers looking for an engaging and thrilling read.

 Maisey went home in chance of helping her troubled brother. What she didn't expect to wait for her though is a web of secrets that surrounds her family. And Rafe, who she didn't expect
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
After her divorce and the loss of her child Maisey Lazarow returns home to the small island of Fairham in hopes of helping her brother who has had some problems of his own. However, Maisey has not been looking forward to the reunion with her controlling mother after all the years that had passed.

Instead of staying in the family home Maisey moves into a cottage but finds herself living next to Rafe Romero who has been contracted to fix up the cottages. Maisey has a history with Rafe and finds he

This story started out really strong. It's more of a contemporary romance with a bit of mystery thrown into it. I was hooked and couldn't wait to see what would happen. My favorite characters were Rafe and his adorable daughter Laney. She definitely stole the show for me in this book. I wish there were more scenes involving her (I love single parent romances). I didn't know what to think of Maisey. She couldn't make up her mind and that resulted in me not being able to make up my mind about her.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was a solid five star read! It was the perfect combination of mystery and romance. At times it felt like I was watching an episode of CSI, I kept coming up with theories of what could've happened. What I loved most was that in the end, I didn't see it coming. Sometimes books can be a little predictable but not this one. The Secret Sister kept me guessing until the very end when all the loose ends came together perfectly. The conclusion was satisfying and it left me feeling really good ...more
That was not an enjoyable read. Everyone was so hateful and selfish. Not a single person was remotely like able. And the story wasn't much good either. Total and utterly MEH in an annoying way.

Another series by BN that left me fuming. Still, her Whiskey Creek series takes the cake for most irritating characters/story lines.

Book #2 next, maybe? Of Course NOT. Reading is my happy place. And I'm not happy when I'm fuming. So, thanks but H3LL TO THE BELLS NO.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novak-brenda
Well. That was INTENSE! Very good read.
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Mysterious Read. Makes you feel like Sherlock Holmes trying to uncover the secrets and mysteries. There is also an adorable little girl and father that makes your heart melt.

After a horrible divorce, Maisey returns home to recover and rebuild. This is what I don't understand. You know for a fact your brother and mother are whackadoodle...certifiable. Yet, Maisey goes back home for solace. So, why is she shocked when her mother is evil to her and her brother neglects her. It's not like they acte
Initial reaction: Leave it to Brenda Novak to keep me up during a late night glued to one of her stories. "The Secret Sister" falls quite firmly in the romantic suspense category - revolving around a family with many complications in their relationships and a mystery that threatens to tear them apart for purported events. I found myself drawn into the carefully developed characters and the overarching mystery, though I'll admit I was still left with questions that were either loosely expounded u ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Originally posted at SmexyBooks-


A family, their secrets, and the consequences of those secrets sets the stage for Novak’s newest mystery suspense by introducing the main players and explaining the complicated facets that make up their relationships. A somber tone punctuated with bits of quiet humor and a lightweight romance permeates the story as Novak takes great pains to make us understand the volatile nature of this family’s dynamics that exis
Rhonda Ruff
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
this is my first Brenda Novak book and it wont be my last. Very good story and a nice sweet change of pace for me. Glad i picked it up !
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh, man, this was a really awesome book! It is a bit of a mystery book, so it was like her mystery trilogies, and that was awesome, I've been starting to miss them! So awesome, can't wait to see what's going to happen in this series! ...more
Paula Brandon
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought this was going to be a mystery, but it was more a romance, with a lot of family drama, and just a little bit of mystery thrown in. But it wasn't a total loss. I thought main character Maisey Lazarow was very well developed. She returns to the island of Fairham, which she left ten years ago, to assist her brother Keith after an attempted suicide. She is still recovering from a divorce and the loss of her daughter two years ago (she was only six weeks old and died of SIDS).

Maisey is a bi
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars: A suspenseful thriller blended with an enticing romance.

Maisey stomach clenches with anxiety as she returns home to her hometown and her brother and mother. Maisey and her mother have had a difficult relationship to say the least, but Maisey is coming home to support her brother Keith. Keith has spent years strung out on drugs, and recently he tried to commit suicide. So Maisey, despite the ruins of her own life heads home. Once back on Fairham, Maisey decides to live in her family's
Talk Supe
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I'm going against the grain here because The Secret Sister didn't work for me overall. If only the mystery was enough to compensate for my gripes!

The Romance: needs a LOT of work. So Maisey and Rafe had history like they hooked up for 30 secs two decades ago then they find themselves neighbors in the island. Boom! Dinner invite, Maisey refused but ended up sleeping with him anyway. Where's the tension? The build-up? The flirting? Their "history" wasn't enough to support the suddenness of their b
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
One thing I can say about Novaks writing is that she can keep me entertained and engrossed in reading her books.

At first when I received this book I knew it would be different from her others but I wasn't sure if I was going to read it or sit on it for a bit while I decided. I decided to read it and I'm so glad I did.

This book had a lot more mystery then the previous books I read by her but it also had romance. I have to say I'm glad the romance came first in the storyline because If the mystery
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Secret Sister is the first book in the new Fairham Island series by Brenda Novak. Novak’s Whiskey Creek series is a favorite of many, but I have my ups and downs with it. While I enjoy the characters and relationships that Ms. Novak creates in that series, sometimes the subject matter she touches upon is a bit too dark for my taste. But with this Fairham Island series, I knew going in that it was going to be a
Mary Mooney
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brenda Novak has a way of pulling you into a story and makes it hard for you to leave until the end. This is a new series and when I got the email wanting to know if I wanted to read it, I automatically said yes. Brenda is a favorite go to author for me, I will read anything of hers and I do have some catching up to do with her other series, which I have loved reading too.
Maisey has gone back home to Fairham, an island off the coast of South Carolina, to lick her wounds and try to pull he life b
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by Brenda Novak! This first book in a new series is filled with mystery and intrigue. Maisey after a nasty divorce returns home to North Carolina but she refuses to stay with her overbearing brother and her brother Keith needs her and wants her to stay. She ends up staying in one of the bungalows that was not too much damaged from the hurricane. She ends up living next to Rafe who is living there alone raising his daughter. Rafe was her first love experience when she was 16. T ...more
Maisie Lazarow returns to South Carolina. She has lived the last 10 years in New York. But two years ago she lost her daughter and then her husband cheated on her. Now she has no reason to remain in New York and her brother needs her. But instead of moving in with her controlling mother she choses to move in one of the small bungalows her mother now owns. Also living in the bungalows is Rafe Romero, the guy who took her virginity at age 16. Rafe was hired to renovate the bungalows.

I have loved
Linda (un)Conventional Bookworms
*I received a free ARC of The Secret Sister from MIRA via Netgalley in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*

The Secret Sister is simply fabulous! The mystery unfolds slowly, and the characters are very complex, and Josephine is the kind of mother I'm so happy I didn't have growing up - and even later.

Full review to come soon.

This and all my other reviews are originally posted on my blog (un)Conventional Bookviews

Coyer scavenger hunt item #29: Read a book with no magical or futuristic el
Steph's Romance Book Talk
3.5 Stars / 1 Steam Fan

This story was more of a mystery than a romantic suspense for me. I actually could have done without the lukewarm romance that was blossomed between Maisey and Rafe to solely focus on the family drama that Maisey stumbles upon. I really enjoyed the interaction of Maisey, Rafe, and Laney but I felt there were a lot of plot points that were not closed up. I wanted more romance than what I was given but I did like the mystery that was provided.

This book was read for #romanc
This was an incredibly hard book to rank. Especially knowing that I was lucky enough to receive this book thru NetGalley and would be writing a reader review. So, grain of salt here, people.

The first page of this book immediately reminded me what it was like to pick up something by an extremely talented author.

I'd been reading "okay" writing for a few weeks (a lot of which I DNFd so there's no reviews in my feed). But Ms. Novak's words felt so organic, as if it was a transcript of real life, no
Heather Jasinski
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Holy Cow!! I loved this book! Brenda sure knows how to write a well-written detailed interesting story filled with mystery, romance, and a dysfunctional family. I liked the setting, characters, and the plot!
Maisy Lazarow returns to her hometown of Fairham after her divorce to help her heal. She also returns to help her brother, Keith. Maisy’s mother, Josephine lives in Coldiron House which Maisy doesn’t want to stay there. So she ends of staying in Smuggler’s Cove and the guy next door, Rafe, s
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In ‘The Secret Sister’ we meet Maisey Lazarow, a woman in her thirties who moves back to the town she grew up in to help out her brother, and to start over after her divorce. But moving back doesn’t only mean she can start over, it also means she is forced to have contact with her very controlling and harsh mother. When Maisey moves in next to an old ‘friend’ Rafe, who is very handsome and also single, she isn’t so sure about this move anymore. All Maisey wants to do is get back on her feet with ...more
Nancy Stopper
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
This book is so much more than women's fiction, or a contemporary romance - its real life. The author gives us a look into the lives of Maisey and her wonderful, complicated family; and Rafe and his life, which USED to be simple until Maisey came along.

Josephine, Maisey's mother, is hard to like. I didn't like how Maisey kept bowing down to her, but in reality, its how she and her brother have learned to survive. The descriptions of treatments hefted on brother were disturbing - it;s no wonder h
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Secrets that go back decades are a mystery, especially when trying to find out what happened. When an unknown sister is discovered to have existed, Maisey must and won't stop searching and talking to anyone she can to find out what happened to her. The incite into how the different characters think, act, and feel are brilliantly developed by Brenda Novak. I wish I could have been there to help, especially since it takes place on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Maisey, who has returned ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brenda Novak has done an amazing job again. The characters of The Secret Sister are beautifully flawed and full of emotions. The plot was full of mystery and surprises, and I could not wait to see what happened next. I loved the different directions Maisey and Rafe's relationship took. I also enjoyed the tension within Maisey's family, and all of the secrets as well. The way everything was revealed was great. Maisey kept stumbling upon these little things, which turned out to be very significan ...more
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Around the Year i...: The Secret Sister, by Brenda Novak 1 15 Apr 20, 2016 02:06PM  

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It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s bestselling author career.

“I caught my day-care provider drugging my children with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep while I was away,” Brenda says. “It was then that I decided that I needed to do something from home.”

However, writing was the last profession she expected to undertake. In fact, Brenda swears she didn’t have a

Other books in the series

Fairham Island (2 books)
  • The Secrets She Kept (Fairham Island, #2)

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