Can they do what’s right…without betraying their hearts?
Senatorial candidate Byron Robidoux always does the right thing. And, after years of focus and dedication, his life and campaign are going exactly to plan—until a blackmailer jeopardizes everything. No one is supposed to know that thirteen years ago, Byron told a lie to protect a college friend. And now that lie could destroy his career…and threaten the woman he never stopped loving.
Zoe Hammond hardly recognizes the refined and handsome politician Byron has become. The last time she saw him, he was the friend who saved her life by claiming to be the father of her unborn baby. For that, she’d do anything for him. Except Byron’s world of wealth, reputation and deceit isn’t a place where Zoe or her daughter belong. But when a menace from the past comes calling again, staying with Byron is best for them all. And, as the searing attraction between them builds, they soon realize some things are worth fighting for…especially love.
If you are looking for a good soapy romance series, these are fantastic! Scandalous Secrets puts a very different twist on the secret baby trope, plus a second chance romance.
It follows Byron Robidoux (brother of India from book 1) who is running for Senate with the backing of his wealthy and very complicated family, not to mention his fiancee who is a great match politically if not romantically. But his past comes back when he is threatened with blackmail. Thirteen years earlier, he lied to protect a friend he was in love with from her abusive boyfriend. When Zoe got pregnant, he said the baby was his. Now to save his image, Zoe and her daughter are coming back into his life, but does he still hold a torch for her?
There is plenty of drama and scandal, with family members who are ruthless in pursuing what they want. But it's a great romance that is really about building trust between Zoe and Byron, especially as she is still dealing with the effects of being in an abusive relationship and seeing abuse as love growing up. The book does a great job of tackling the wrong idea that "real love" is controlling or can be violent. And while Byron is engaged at the beginning, he and his fiancee are both very explicit that their relationship is not a love match, and she bows out before anything with Zoe really starts.
Zoe is an incredible character and we see the strength and independence of the life she has built for herself and her daughter, and how she is determined to hold onto those things and not allow a man to become her everything again. It's a nuanced approach to real issues that is handled really well. I'm loving this series, and can't wait to read a book about the final sister from this family! I hope we get to see that. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Content warnings include talk of physical & emotional abuse, ptsd, threatening emails, kidnapping of a child, and arson.
I liked the writing voice and angst (family melodrama FTW! It read soapy in a good way), but the stalker/abusive ex storyline stressed me out. Like I felt anxious and worried to the pit of my stomach — I guess stressful times (aka pre-election 2020 during a pandemic) isn’t the best time for me to read about the threat of domestic violence. And if you look at the CWs, you’ll see that it doesn’t stay a threat.
I am upset by the ending. Spoiler:
The spoilers are depressing to read, especially because the 2020 November election is seven days away. I definitely read this book at the wrong time (I mean, the new SCOTUS justice was confirmed TONIGHT by the GOP senate). My timing is abysmal. So you see why I was mentally affected by the story’s election results in the end.
I am conflicted by my rating because I like the voice/storytelling enough to read another book in the series (I love the hero’s sister Elaina), but the election/child kidnapping plot decisions sucked out any enjoyment in the story. If you think you’d be okay with what I describe in the spoiler tag, I would recommend SCANDALOUS SECRETS. It’s just that so many plot decisions (child kidnapping, election results, evil ex/fiancée, etc) overlapped with my “I never like this” list of themes, so this is a reader-book mismatch.
I read this via the library despite receiving an arc; the PDF format hurt my eyes and I couldn’t get through the arc.
Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A solid 4 star read for me and my 1st Synithia Williams book! Also, as I said in an update, Adenrele Ojo’s Southern accent in the audiobook was top tier! I’ve listened to a number of books narrated by Ojo at this point and she did do a bit of a Southern drawl in that one series by Alexandria House but not as much as in this book. Made the reading experience that much more enjoyable! I should also mention that Veena at Ms WOC Reader recommended this to me because I asked for recs to use up my hoopla borrows for August. Her recs hardly ever miss (for me) so I went in expecting a good time. And that's what I got! If you're not reading her blog, what are you doing?! Check it out here!
This is basically a friends-to-lovers romance book though I'm pretty sure the characters knew each other prior to college. So you could say that it's sort of a childhood friends-to-lovers situation if you're into that. I know I am! It's one of my favorite romance tropes if I have to name one. Anyway, so we had Byron Robidoux as our MMC and Zoe Hammond for our FMC. Zoe was running from an abusive relationship and asked Byron for a gigantic favor and he obliged her years ago. Now, the situation has resurfaced in the middle of Byron's campaign to be one of South Carolina's Senators. And Zoe has to decide how far she's willing to go to keep the secret and herself & her loved ones safe all while maintaining her independence.
I really enjoyed Zoe's relationship with her daughter. Those dynamics felt real and healthy. I even liked Byron's relationship with his family. Though most of those folks were toxic af. Looking at you Grant. I hope that there's a book in this series that follows Byron's sister (Elaine...idk if I spelled that correctly) because she was probably the most interesting character out of everybody to me. I was not expecting the reveal at the end...I just KNEW I knew who was behind all the threatening emails. I did not. Speaking of the ending...I felt there were a couple loose threads left. But I didn't mind terribly. If that's something that bothers you, then be aware.
Overall, I had a good time reading Scandalous Secrets and I look forward to continuing in the series. Like I said earlier, I hope Byron's sister has a book in the series. And if she does, that's where I'm headed next.
3/25/2021 - This is book 2 in Synithia Williams’ Jackson Falls series. There are storylines that run throughout the series, so I recommend experiencing them all and in order – starting with the novella, The Promise of a Kiss.
Scandalous Secrets is another delightfully over-the-top soap opera-esque story filled with political scandal, blackmail, secret baby/paternity, stalkers, and a kidnapping. The only thing this was missing was a certain conniving someone being pushed down a grand staircase.
I also love that Williams takes the time to describe details about the characters’ appearance, clothing, and hair styles as it helps me feel like I really know what they look like. She also has a wicked sense of humor that had me laughing out loud numerous times.
Because Byron & Zoe never made it beyond close friends in college, this isn’t exactly a second-chance romance but definitely had a lot of those “feels” going for it. Zoe thinks she’ll be keeping her daughter safe by being brought into the Robidoux fold – but little does she know that it’s a whole new jungle to survive. Byron’s trying to prove himself to Zoe as a protector without taking over her entire life while simultaneously managing a fiancé, political campaign, and sudden fatherhood to a teenager. While there are bumps in the road to finding their HEA, they definitely don’t have any issues when it comes to chemistry. Two words: hot tub.
I also enjoyed getting to know Elaina better and I’m looking forward to her book, Careless Whisper.
Narration: I continue to love Adenrele Ojo’s narration. She does a good job with all the characters and their various emotions. She captures the southern accent perfectly without it feeling caricature.
2/21/2021 - Squee!!! This was already on my TBL for this week and it’s on sale! Audio is $5.99 on Libro.fm and the ebook is $1.99 pretty much all the places.
This story centers around middle child Byron who is running for Senate. After someone attempting to sabotage his campaign blackmails him he has to face a secret he's kept hidden for years. Back in college he had a crush on his friend, Zoe who found herself pregnant while trying to escape an abusive relationship. In order to help her, Byron agreed to let her name him as the father of her daughter. Now when Byron tracks down Zoe he find out someone has been threatening her. They decide to come together for both their sakes.
Byron's pushy father Grant and campaign manager Roy can't wait to spin this inconvenience to win favor with voters. Byron has a pushy fiancée who is doing her best to play the role of committed senator's girlfriend and future stepmother. They're relationship of convivence is threatened by Byron's very real past feelings for Zoe that have resurfaced. While Byron is fighting feelings that never went away; Zoe is finally seeing him in a new light.
It was interesting to read a romance where the man had to fight harder for the relationship because the woman was reluctant. Zoe was still working through trauma from her past relationship and the relationships she grew up seeing. Her concerns about relying too much on a man to take care of her felt very valid. Byron was super sweet and supportive the entire time welcoming her daughter Lilah into his life.
I also enjoyed seeing Zoe bond with Elaina and work with each other. She took to the auntie role very quickly with Lilah.
This story amped up the drama with twists I didn't see coming. Though Byron's campaign causes friction this isn't a story full of politics.
I really enjoyed this follow up to Forbidden Promises! I stand by the fact that it reads like a Shonda Rhimes show in a lot of ways, just with much more focus on the characters winding up happy at the end. It follows Byron, who is running for U.S. Senate (which really just doesn't make sense based on his campaign strategy, but whatever) from North Carolina, and Zoe, single mom and Byron's friend... Essentially, back in college, Byron lied for Zoe and said that her baby was his because Zoe's actual significant other was an abusive jerk. (CW for discussion of domestic violence) Although Byron proposed at the time, Zoe left town. Now, Byron needs her to do him a favor because he's being blackmailed about being an absentee father. The problem is Zoe's getting emails again that seem like they might be from her ex. Oh, and also, Byron is engaged. To somebody else.
I really love this very messed up family, but also I side eye them so much. So many machinations. There's something about Bryon with Zoe and her daughter that just gets me too. I think Byron is a really good guy, who is capable of making really dumb decisions. Zoe has lingering trust issues and issues about being controlled based on her past relationship and I thought those issues were presented realistically, though I did occasionally feel like maybe she should have healed a little more than she had. That said, I think Zoe was a great character and I understood her. And I loved getting to know Elaina a little more and I cannot wait for her book!
Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for the advanced copy!
THE CHARACTERS KEPT SAYING THE SAME STUFF (in different ways) OVER AND OVER I WANTED TO SAY TO THEM YOU’VE SAID THAT SH*T BEFORE. THEY CALL ZOE A FIGHTER BUT TO ME SHE HAS WUSS WRITTEN ALL OVER HER, IF SHE’S SUCH A FIGHTER WHY DOES SHE ALWAYS RUN WHEN THE FIGHTING GETS TOUGH. ;(
Scandalous Secrets is the latest book in Synithia Williams’ Jackson Falls series. In this book, we get to see the brother and Senator hopeful Byron Robidoux’s journey to love.
Running for Senator and having a secret baby that’s not really yours can be a potential disaster, especially if the public gets a hold of the news. While the truth isn’t necessarily one to elicit major scandal, with the wrong spin and the wrong people it can definitely put a serious dent in political aspirations.
Byron had been in love with Zoe Hammond while in college, and that was partially agreed to lie for her when she asked her a huge factor when she was in a dangerous situation. He has never regretted his decision though he has been upset, and hurt, at the way Zoe left him when he was willing to make a life with her.
Zoe did what she thought was best and Byron’s family definitely weren’t fans of their decision making and, not so delicately, helped push her in the direction they thought was best.
When someone threatens to expose the truth behind Byron and Zoe’s actions, they are forced to come up with a solution and therefore see each other for the first time in many years. Things are quite complicated and what turns into a solid PR plan to spin this news turns into a lot more. Zoe has never quite believed that Byron’s feelings for her were real, but more time together shows that desire (and love) is there on both sides. However, Zoe is hesitant to believe and trust any man after her past relationship. Byron’s family and advisors don’t make it easy for her either and there were a few times when their love was almost over before it really started.
I do wish Byron had put his foot down a bit earlier in the story. Very early on, I was waiting on him to be like “Hold on, I got this.” I clapped my hands at every missed opportunity! Smt. I mean, he did it, but he was a little late. He let his father dictate quite a bit of his life though it didn’t seem he wanted to admit that at first. Grant, his dad, has a firm hand and believes that everyone should do as he says for the good of the family and its reputation. Damn your feelings or the fact that he has made his own shitty decisions.
I liked Scandalous Secrets a lot better than the first book and felt that both of these main characters had reasons for you to both like and dislike them. There were definitely times when I wanted Zoe to open her eyes and see things at face value and not let her past cloud her decisions. But I understood why she was like that.
The family dynamic here was solid and it was good to see a little bit of the inner workings of politics within this family and how they interacted with each other. As I mentioned before in my review of the first book, this definitely gives me the soap opera vibes and I like that a lot!
Careless Whispers is up next and features Elaina, she intrigues me a lot and I will be reading that story.
** I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**
Soapy and dramatic and so so fun! I might have to give book 1 in this series another chance, because I ate this story up!! I was surprised by how much I liked Byron. He is the poster boy for Good Man, let me tell you. I love how Synithia can make all her characters come to life, no matter how big of a role they play. They all feel real and solidly realized.
This is my first Synithia Williams book and I enjoyed it!!If you like books with family drama, political intrigue, and a little mystery suspense in your romance then this is the book for you. There are trigger warnings that I wanted to note: domestic violence and kidnapping.
This book follows Byron Robidoux who his running for senator. He is on the right path to victory however, he is being threatened by someone who knows a secret that could damage his campaign and also someone he cares deeply about as he did something to protect a friend. Our heroine in the story is Zoe Hammond who is a strong and devoted mother to her daughter. A long time ago Byron saved Zoe by claiming that he was the father of her baby and when she finds out this secret is being threatened to come out she wants to help Byron in any way she can.
I really enjoyed this second chance romance as Zoey and Byron have a lot of chemistry. My heart definitely broke for both of these character as they truly loved each other but so many things were in the way. As I mentioned this book has a lot of family drama which is introduced in the first book in the series. Although, this book can be read as a standalone I felt quite disconnected from these characters and the history of the Robidoux family. Which is why I would say reading the first book will help, as you'll be familiar with the family as other characters from the first book are mentioned in this story. I also enjoyed the politics as that is something I enjoy, the scandals and campaigning really interested me.
I also want to mention how much I truly enjoyed Zoe. This book talks about domestic violence a lot as she is still healing from the trauma she experienced. I loved seeing Zoe's growth and development as a character as she started to let Byron truly love her. Her daughter was also a fun character and it was so sweet how she and Byron bonded, they truly developed a father and daughter relationship.
Overall I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to reading Elaina's story! Thank you so much to Netgalley for allowing me read this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Scandalous Secrets (Jackson Falls #2) by Synithia Williams 3 stars M/F Second chance romance - friends to lovers Triggers: Kidnapping, domestic abuse I was given this book for an honest review by Wicked Reads.
Byron has always been a protector. When he sets his sights on running for office, he knows that it'll be a battle. He has the right political connections, the right family members and he is on his way. However, a secret from his past is coming back full force and he has to decide how he wants to handle it.
Zoe Hammond is a strong, confident woman and mother. She has figured out that she doens't need a man to save her, nor does she need her mom's bad advice. When she sees Byron again after a decade, she has to readjust her expectations for her quiet, safe life. Zoe has been receiving threatening emails and has just felt unease for a while. When she sees Byron again, she can't help but feel safe when he offers her protection.
Zoe and Byron will have to figure out if their past should stay there or if they should forge ahead and see if their past will help shape their future. This is a well developed story, but it felt almost too drawn out. There was a lot of history to sort thorugh, so I can appreciate that, but I wish that we would have seen more of the future aspect. Trust is hard for both main characters and while their lives were moving along just fine before they reunited, what if they were to sail along even more smooth once they see each other again?
Overall, this is a good story. It is well developed and you really get to know the characters. It's the second book in the series and while it's not absolutely necessary to read book 1, I do suggest it, as the relationships will make more sense. The romance and mystery didn't wow me, but it was a fast read. I do hope I get to see Elaina's story next. She, for me, is by far the most intriguing character.
This is the second book in the Jackson Falls series with the prominent Robidoux family. The storyline is about Byron Robidoux who is running for a Senate seat election. Zoe Hammond is an old friend who Byron helped when they were in college and now because of him helping Zoe, a big secret is about to be exposed that not only will threaten Byron’s campaign but also threaten Zoe and her 13 year old daughter’s life. Now the time has come where Byron has to find Zoe and see what can be done to stop the person who is threatening them and the truth of what really happened in college when Byron helped Zoe out of her predicament be exposed to the public. I loved reading Byron and Zoe storyline of friends with secrets and afraid to love, along with the plot twist and turns. The characters you can feel the rollercoaster emotions of love, anger, protection, caring, revenge and mistrust. I found myself at times really getting upset with a character as if I was right there in the storyline. When this happens you know that the author has drawn your attention until the very end and you want more. Some of the characters from the first book are in this book and it is good to see what is going on with them also. I look forward to reading the next book of the Robidoux Jackson Falls family. I highly recommend this book to read. Cassandra H. I received a ARC from Netgalley and this review is of my own honest opinion and thoughts.. #ScandoulsSecrets #SynthiaWilliams #Harlequin #Netgalley
I adored this novel for many reasons! (TW: Domestic abuse, kidnapping) Outside of the electric chemistry between our couple, we have a twist on a single parent romance that I personally hadn't ever seen before in a novel. And the child was written pretty close to the appropriate age for me. Sometimes they are written far too young, or far too old. This one felt great to me. Williams knows how to come at a story, and make it their own for sure. They also know how to write layered and dynamic characters that you root for. Byron is risking his political dreams to protect his college best friend Zoe, and her child of a man who wasn't good for her, or her child. This family we are following in the series make for an interesting background to an already interesting plot. I am excited to see how the next book will play out!
I might have loved this more if I hadn't finished another second-chance romance right before it. The family is delightfully messed up and I look forward to reading the next Jackson Falls book, which doesn't feature a political campaign and also features my favorite character from the first two, who promises to be the best kind of unlikeable heroine.
I don't think romances with a political subplot are my thing.
I enjoyed this for what it was and I definitely felt that the two MCs had good chemistry. I liked the fact that Byron had a torch for Zoe for all those years and that he finally stood up to his dad and his weird power dynamics.
The ending was a little rushed and cheesy for me, and the skips in time were a little exasperating. Some things about how Byron's spit in the polls moved made no sense. You would think saving people from two dangerous scenarios would definitely make you more popular in the polls rather than a rumored affair. But I digress.
The book was still full of longing, good romance, and tension.
I think I will enjoy Elain's book more, as I really liked her character in this story.
Byron has always been a protector. When he sets his sights on running for office, he knows that it'll be a battle. He has the right political connections, the right family members, and he is on his way. However, a secret from his past is coming back full force and he has to decide how he wants to handle it.
Zoe Hammond is a strong, confident woman and mother. She has figured out that she doesn't need a man to save her, nor does she need her mom's bad advice. When she sees Byron again after a decade, she has to readjust her expectations for her quiet, safe life. Zoe has been receiving threatening emails and has just felt uneasy for a while. When she sees Byron again, she can't help but feel safe when he offers her protection.
Zoe and Byron will have to figure out if their past should stay there or if they should forge ahead and see if their past will help shape their future. This is a well-developed story, but it felt almost too drawn out. There was a lot of history to sort through, so I can appreciate that, but I wish that we would have seen more of the future aspect. Trust is hard for both main characters and while their lives were moving along just fine before they reunited, what if they were to sail along even smoother once they see each other again?
Overall, this is a good story. It is well developed, and you really get to know the characters. It's the second book in the series and while it's not absolutely necessary to read book one, I do suggest it, as the relationships will make more sense. The romance and mystery didn't wow me, but it was a fast read. I do hope I get to see Elaina's story next. She, for me, is by far the most intriguing character.
Triggers: Kidnapping, Domestic Abuse
Reviewers received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.
At the conclusion of Travis and India's story was a hint that something was about to shake up the carefully planned senatorial campaign of India's older brother Byron. Years ago Byron had been in love with his best friend Zoe who because of her upbringing was in an abusive relationship. Fast forward thirteen years and Byron and Zoe's paths are about to collide again. Somehow someone learned about his attempt to help his friend extricate herself from her abusive relationship by claiming to be the father of her child. Well now it seemed that information was about to be used against him. In the course of securing Zoe's silence he learned she was being threatened, asked her for them to go public confirming him as her daughter's father. Things got harry. Byron learned Zoe did not just leave his life after he proposed during college, his parents were responsible for her turning down his proposal. Deciding to help with his campaign brought both Zoe and Byron to the realization their feelings were still the same for each other and once Zoe accepted that despite what she grew up hearing and witnessing about relationships, she did deserve love and to have it with Byron. A series of occurrences proved to much for the convenient fiancee of Byron who recognized he loved Zoe so she split in the middle of his campaign. Many issues later including a fire, a hit and run accident and abduction of Byron and Zoe's professed child brought everything full circle including an unsuspected outcome of Byron's senate race and solidified Byron, Zoe and their daughter Lilah as a family. You won't believe who the one threatening Zoe, who burned down her home and ran Byron off the road turned out to be. Surprises, suspense, family drama and yes family loyalty and unity won the day. This was an excellent read and I hope in Careless Whispers Byron's sister Elaina's story, that she too will find her happily ever after. I enjoyed Byron and Zoe's story immensely!!!!
If you are wavering on if you should pick up this book, do it! My 3 star rating is not because it's not an enjoyable book for the right person. I enjoyed this wild ride of a soap opera. But, this one for me was a filler until I get to Elaina's story which I am really waiting for.
We met Byron Robidoux in the first Jackson Falls book, Forbidden Promises - at the end there is a hint of what Byron's book would be about and I was looking forward to it. Byron is running for Senate and a past secret from college threatens to uproot his chances. Bryon finds Zoe, who say that her daughter was Byron's in order to get out of an abusive relationship, trying to convince her to help out his campaign by releasing the fabricated truth to the public. But Byron was in love with Zoe in college and the feelings they both have threaten to ruin everything that Byron is trying to build.
Zoe was IT for me in this book. Byron I could take or leave. It was nice seeing India and Travis again. Grant is still the ACTUAL WORST. But Zoe (and Elaina) were absolutely amazing. Zoe's strength, her ability to push back and know her own worth - I loved it. She never capitulated! I did enjoy seeing Zoe and Byron's relationship grow, but I would've loved a bit more of them on solid ground enjoying themselves. Synithia William's books are like amazing soap operas - the DRAMA. And I can't wait for the drama that will come with Elaina's book. My biggest gripe from Forbidden Promises was that Elaina felt so one-dimensional even though she was pivotal to India and Travis' story. But, Elaina really started to thrive here and I loved seeing her open up to Zoe - both women who have been taken advantage of by men and have been forced to be strong, invulnerable.
I can't wait to see Elaina's book and if she isn't with "Alex the Asshole" I am going to be so upset!
Thank you to Harlequin Romance for an advanced copy for review!
While I liked the ending and the overall character arc in the end, this was a somewhat disappointing, sort of lackluster story. There is so much going on with the drama around Zoe’s ex and Byron’s senate run that the main characters have very little time to actually connect beyond revisiting the past. Nostalgia seems to outweigh the romance in the present. That’s especially problematic since this isn’t even a true second chance for them. It’s the first time they’ve kissed, the first time they’ve actually explored something beyond friendship. So I think they could have used more time on the page exploring that. Or maybe it’s more of an issue with the quality of the connection. For most of the time they‘re together, Zoe is attracted to Byron but she doesn’t really appreciate him or even see him clearly. There’s a life threatening event involving both lIlah and Byron and even after Lilah is found to be fine thanks to Byron, Zoe is basically not that interested in or concerned with him. That’s a moment of truth and she was almost indifferent. I know she had a protective core around herself, but at the moment the guy has just been in real danger maybe someone with feelings for him would want to have a look. It’s odd.
The secondary characters were a mixed bag. Two things I liked— Zoe’s daughter Lilah was great and Byron’s sister Elaina made a major comeback/glowup in terms of her character, making her a much more attractive potential heroine for book 3. I did not appreciate whatever was happening with Byron’s stepmother in waiting, Patricia however.
Wonderful slow-burn, second-chance-at-love romance! I was happy to see Byron find love after all, instead of persevering in his rather cold & rational approach to and marriage. He’s closest to his father, and seeing him stand up Grant and stick to his principles was very gratifying, though it was also a little heartbreaking to see how Byron’s happiness and integrity fell victim to his father’s ruthless machinations. Zoe is an amazing character, who worked tirelessly to become a good parent to Lilah and to free herself of her ex as well as the horrible, toxic values and the low self-esteem that she was raised with. The latter perhaps even harder to accomplish than the first. Zoe and Byron have an immediate spark when they reconnect, not dulled by time nor distance, but the odds are not in their favor. They need to learn to trust each other, and trust in the strength of love. I think the gradual way in which this learning curve was written, really helped me believe it, and it made me root for them all the more. I enjoyed the combination of romance, finding family (even if in part a slightly dysfunctional one), and the element of suspense in this love story. Lots of drama and sweetness, though never too out there nor too cloying. I also really liked how the author wrote Lilah, her character, and her growing bond with Byron. She’s an integral part of the story, and struck me as a very lively and authentic teenager. “Auntie” Elaina, aloof, enigmatic and take-charge, is easily becoming my favorite of all three siblings, and I can’t wait to find out her story!
Second book in the series. Solid adult romance. I really enjoyed getting to know Zoey and her daughter Laila. As well, get to know more about India's brother Byron. At first it started slow then it began to pick up the pace. I'm glad the ending wasn't terribly rushed for the main characters such as I saw with the first book. So far, I'm really enjoying reading this series and I do recommend it to others.
This was almost a DNF for me. For people who love a story full of angst and family drama, this is probably a story for them. There is too much drama IRL for me to want to read about it. I stayed with it because I wanted to know who was behind the things happening to Byron and Zoe.
I listened ended to the audiobook. I thought the narrator did a good job. I think I have become used to male narrators acting out the male character parts, so it threw me off a bit at the beginning.
First I have to say that I didn't like Yolanda for obvious reasons. I also did not like Zoe. I was sick of hearing how strong and independent she was doing what women every day have to do. How could she talk about being on her own, not needing anyone for protection or anything else, when she was depending on Byron and his family for protection, a place to live, and looking into the email situation?
Then Zoe decides to tell Byron what he is or isn't mad about. REALLY? How is she going to tell him that he's not mad about this woman Patricia trying to act like his mother. Zoe hadn't seen him in 13 years. Had not been around for the Grant/Patricia/his mother issue, yet Zoe decided Byron was not really mad about it. She decided she knows everything he was thinking and he was only mad about his father taking a decision out of his hands. Yeah, she couldn't understand he was mad about that TOO!
This man had been telling her he loved her from 13 years ago and he sill did, yet she still can't believe it. He should have walked away from her.
Unlike Zoe, I never thought what Byron did made him think of her as being incapable of taking care of herself. She didn't want to think about it a tomorrow that wasn't promised. That was a stupid statement, thought, or whatever you want to call it. Nothing is promised. She didn't want to hear Byron tell her that he loved her. So in essence she was saying she didn't love him and if that was the case with the angst and the drama, I felt she should take her independent self back to wherever she came from and live her life.
Even her daughter understood Zoe needed to get her act together. Eventually, Byron and Zoe got their HEA, so I guess that is all that matters. So, if you are looking for a drama filled and angsty read, this one should cover the requirements.
This exemplary romance addresses the protective hero trope in a fresh, new way that is both empowering and thought-provoking. Their secret from years before is about to blow wide open, so Byron and Zoe decide to get out in front of it to control the narrative. Just how much control can, and should, be exerted becomes a central issue between the two.
Byron's personal journey involves his steps to finally deciding to be his own man, stepping out from his father's plan for him and standing up for his own decisions. He acts exactly as we hope he would, until we hope he doesn't. He's a hero with a quiet strength and low-key confidence that never comes off as arrogance.
Zoe has a complex history with men and relationships, so she doesn't interpret Byron's actions the same way that he intended them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as her viewpoint causes them both to examine exactly what love really means between them. The whole book is so well written that the reader really feels both points of view and can sympathize with each side. I was truly impressed with the way this dichotomy was presented and ultimately resolved. By itself, it makes this book a winner.
The romance is complicated by both her unknown stalker and his political campaign, in addition to the usual family complications. The ending was quite surprising, yet not at all out of place. Again, I was impressed with the author's choices and applaud her not taking the easy, predictable route. This was the first book I've read by this author, and I'm beyond impressed. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
This was the first I've read by this author, so it was also the first one I'd read of the series. It was also the first from Harlequin I'd read in a long time. But I'm ready for more quick reads and the comfort of a romance with likable characters is nice right now.
Scandalous Secrets delivers on this. You are pretty much set up with who is good, who is not; but there are some possible red herrings that keep readers wondering about. In addition to the straight-forward "second chance" aspect of the novel, there's also a mystery/threat that affects the characters and their actions. This was resolved pretty well, although the romance is the focus here. Even though the background of Byron's run for the Senate is important to how things fall out, it doesn't become the actual setting.
I liked our MC, Zoe, although I sometimes was very frustrated with her ability to be constantly paranoid and unable to trust. I do understand, on some levels, that her life growing up showed her a skewed view of love and relationships. It's just that I've been lucky that I have never felt that way and sometimes have trouble relating to how that may affect someone's outlook and trust issues. For this reason, I feel the book serves as a good example of how one can deal with the past, present, and future in healthier ways. I would recommend it for some teens for this reason; however, the fairly explicit sex scenes might not be appropriate for some.
All in all, a good beach read or, at this season, a good one with which to curl up on the couch!
I read an ARC provided by NetGalley, in order to read and provide an honest review.
Scandalous Secrets is a perfect scandalous second chance romance. This is also the second book in the Jackson Falls series. I have not had the pleasure of reading the first book, but this was still good as a standalone.
The story follows Byron Robidoux, who is running for senate and comes from a wealthy family, but a past secret could hinder him from winning the seat. Years ago, Byron agreed to be the father of his college friend, Zoe, who was in an abusive relationship and needed a way out. Byron is now being demanded to tell everyone the truth to save his career, but he does not want to put Zoe and her daughter in danger.
This book was a nice break from my usual thrillers. The story was read like a juicy soap opera with a sweet second chance romance and a fun baby daddy twist. There is plenty of drama and scandal that will keep you entertained. Byron’s family dynamics are messy and complicated. Zoe has a secret that is protecting her family. Zoe was my favorite character. She is independent and strong, and I loved how she could overcome being in an abusive relationship. I also loved the way that Byron and Zoe rekindled their romance. Both had to be vulnerable and trust each other after what happened in the past. It was not an easy feat for both of them because Zoe had to keep a strong front with her daughter, and Byron needed to let his guard down. If you’re looking for a fun, scandalous story with a feel-good romance, this book is for you!
Thank you to NetGallery and to Harlequin Publishing for giving me a copy of the book.
I have read several books by Synithia Williams when she was writing for Harlequin Romance and I enjoyed them tremendously.
We met India Robidoux in “Forbidden Promises” when she came home to Jackson Falls to help her brother Byron Robidoux with his run for the Senate. This is the second book in the series where we will find out the outcome of the Senate race.
Zoe Hammond and Bryon met in college and became friends. Bryon helped Zoe out when she became pregnant by her abusive jerk of a boyfriend and stated that he was the father of her child. Now their secret has come back to bit him the butt. When you’re in the political arena you’re fair game to any and everything. Your public life and whoever else are or was in your life becomes a part of the game.
Zoe and Bryon haven’t seen each other in sometime. Byron is receiving emails about him being an absentee father and Zoe is receiving threatening emails that she believes are coming from her ex-boyfriend.
There is drama, romance, trust issues, secrets all threats to Byron for the senate seat. Love the characters and all that’s going on with Byron, Zoe and Lilah’s race to the senate. I received a copy of “Scandalous Secrets” from the author and I’m voluntarily leaving a review.
The next book “Careless Whispers” featuring the Robidoux Family.
Initial thoughts: this one felt a bit longer than I would have liked but I think that’s because I’ve been reading a lot of novellas lately and some kid lit. Even still, I ended up really loving this one. The characters are what really sold it for me. They’re complex and fully fleshed out and I felt like I could really connect with them. Zoe has been through so much but she’s strong & independent & a fighter. Byron was strong in his own way and sweet and I loved his protective side & his hopefulness & optimism when it came to love. So many times you read about the Hero being the one closed off to love, but this time it was the heroine and I think that point of view and storyline is so important to showcase. I’m not usually a big second chance love story fan for some reason. It’s not really a go-to trope for me, but I’m so glad I read this one. I fell in love with these characters & their storyline. Not to mention politics & suspense thrown in and I’m sold! Will definitely be back with a review! Stay tuned!
I read this book with my husband as a way for us to connect with something I like to do. He's not a reader like I am so I tried to pick a title that wouldn't overwhelm him. We started out pretty good with both of us getting caught up with Zoe's life issues with her ex-boyfriend from college and Byron's extended love for Zoe even when she rejected his love. Their relationship was an eye opener for the most part as to how patient love is supposed to be. As for the writing style, my husband and I were frustrated in some parts where it seemed to drag on and on, so unfortunately he ended up stop reading around chapter 22. I finished it simply because I just wanted to know who had been threatening Zoe. One more thing to add, I didn't like the way some intimate scenes were described gently and with passion and then others turned a little more vulgar. I'm not against reading vulgar words at all, but the change up just didn't fit with the way the book started. Overall, this book was good, but not great.
Title: Scandalous Secrets Author: Synithia Williams Genre: Romance Rating: 4 out of 5
This was a solid read. Zoe was a strong character, although she took her independence a little too far at times, and she always thought Byron was at fault in everything, without waiting to hear his side of things (like his campaign manager releasing their photos, and Zoe had already decided Byron was the guilty culprit). This made her come across as pretty judge-y and a bit close-minded.
I loved the dynamics with the Robidoux family, although their father was a bit much. Byron himself was conflicted and contradictory. He was perfectly willing to marry someone who was the “right” choice—even though he didn’t love her—and years ago, he’d wanted to marry Zoe, even when his family thought she was wrong for him.
(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)
The way politics is handled here is..not okay. A book with a Black mc running for Senate and there's... no real political discussion. Look, a book can be fun and I'd be fine with the vague mentions of politics if he seemed to care about the implications of the eventual result. The political climate in the US doesn't open for that. (This is written by a Black woman and I'm sure she was told to do it like this by her publisher/editor etc, it just doesn't sit well with me)
What this book does well: - fierce independence is a result of trauma, the author is aware of this amd shows it beautifully - the relationship, both between the couple and their families - no character is perfect. In the first book too, they all have clear flaws and I appreciate how real and three dimensional they all feel