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Nick Merrick set a wide piece of flagstone into the sand, shifting it back and forth to lock it in place. Despite the late October chill in the air, the sun beat down on his back, making him regret his long-sleeved black T-shirt. He pulled the red Merrick Landscaping cap off his head to wipe sweat away with his forearm. His hair was already damp, and he still had half a path to finish.
He yanked the hat back on and fed some power into the air, asking for a breeze.
The wind was overly happy to accommodate, sending a gust through the trees to scatter leaves and blow sand into the grass. Nick swore.
Quinn shivered and huddled down in her fleece pullover. "Frigging wind."
Nick glanced at her. She was sitting on the slate stone bench his older brother had installed yesterday. "Cold? Go sit in the truck."
"But I'm helping you."
Nick smiled. She hadn't left the bench since they'd gotten here. "Oh. Okay. I didn't realize you were helping."
"Not with the landscaping. I can barely pick those rocks up." She turned to lie flat on the bench, letting long blond hair fall almost to the grass. She stretched one leg up to the sky. Next she'd be pulling it back toward her chest and putting her ankle next to her ear. Crazy dancer. "I'm helping you keep up illusions."
Illusions. Nick lost the smile and flung another stone into place. "Are you sure you're not avoiding going home?"
"Okay, so maybe we're helping each other."
He made a noncommittal noise and reached for another stone.
"Seriously," said Quinn. "Your brother gave you crap for bringing me along, didn't he?"
"Not really." And Michael hadn't. If Gabriel or Chris had tried to drag a girl along on a job, Michael would have pitched a fit. But Nick was the dependable one. When he'd mentioned that Quinn was riding along, his older brother hadn't batted an eye.
Then again, Nick had told Michael a little about Quinn's epic fights with her mom, which seemed to have gotten worse since her family's home was destroyed in a fire. Maybe Michael was cutting her some slack, too.
"Huh," said Quinn. "Maybe I should accidentally leave panties in your room or something."
"You don't need to do that."
"You sound pissed."
Nick put another rock into place and rolled the tension from his shoulders. "I'm not. I'm just ... you don't need to go over the top."
"Panties are over the top?"
He didn't even bother answering that.
"Come on," she said. "If you don't want your brothers to know you're into guys, a little lingerie left in your bedroom might be just the ticket."
Nick slammed another rock into the sand and didn't bother answering that, either.
Quinn was relentless. "Have you seen Adam since that night I caught you kissing?"
"No." At least not in reality. But Quinn's dance partner had occupied nearly every waking moment of Nick's thoughts. And a lot of the sleeping moments, too.
Adam was the first—the only—boy he'd ever kissed.
Nick's brothers had no idea. They still thought he was infatuated with Quinn. And Quinn was all too happy to keep up the "illusion," as she put it.
"Have you talked to him?" Quinn pressed.
"No." But he read over Adam's last text message about twenty times a day.
When you know what you want, I'll be right here.
Nick knew what he wanted, all right. He just wasn't sure he wanted to want it. His life was already complicated enough. He reached for another stone.
"He asked about you," said Quinn.
Nick dropped the stone on his fingers. He swore again and flexed them to ease the pain. "Yeah?"
"He asked how you were doing."
Nick didn't say anything, just rocked the stone into place.
"Hmm," said Quinn. "What did I tell him about you ...?"
Nick's heart tripped and stumbled along. He waited.
Finally, he looked up. "There's a pool around back. Don't think I won't drop you in it."
Quinn smiled, but it was a little cautious, a little sad. "He asked if you'd be coming with me to the studio anytime soon."
She meant the dance studio at the Y, where he'd first met Adam. Nick enjoyed watching Quinn dance, and he loved the way music coursed through the air to seep into his skin. Then he'd seen Adam, and it was like a missing puzzle piece finally snapped into place.
He'd loved watching Adam dance, too.
Nick grabbed a hand roller and flattened the next expanse of sand. "I don't want to be a distraction."
"I think you need a little distraction."
"What does that mean?"
"It means you're completely stressed out." Quinn rolled off the bench and walked behind him, putting her hands on his shoulders. She dug her thumbs into the muscles there. It almost hurt, but it felt good, too, so he didn't stop her.
"Quinn, it's fine. I have a lot on my mind."
Like the fact that he and his brothers were still marked for death for the Elemental abilities they struggled to control.
Or the fact that a bunch of younger Elementals had nearly destroyed the town a week ago.
Or maybe that the Guide who'd come to town to kill them all was sitting in a jail cell, and could be released at any time.
Not to mention the stack of college responses hidden in his desk at home. Or his family's struggling landscaping business, which was barely turning a profit now, to say nothing of getting through the winter.
Oh, and the fact that he was gay, and one of the only two people who knew was sitting right here ragging on him about it.
"Why don't you come to the studio tonight?" she said.
"I have a physics test tomorrow. I need to study."
"Please. Like you couldn't pass that in your sleep. And if you really needed to study, why aren't your brothers doing this job?"
Nick shook her hands off and reached for another stone. "Hannah was off tonight, and Mike needed a break. I offered."
"Of course you did." She paused. "And Gabriel? Chris?"
"Busy, and busy." His youngest brother, Chris, had plans with his girlfriend. And Gabriel, his twin, was trying to catch up on math so he could apply for firefighter school in the spring.
"Come on," said Quinn. "You know you want to."
He did want to. A lot.
A lot more than he wanted to admit.
Too complicated. He shook his head.
"Come on," said Quinn. "You could bring your textbook. Wear some glasses. He'd probably think it was sexy."
Nick told himself to stop imagining it.
Quinn grinned. "Nicholas Merrick. You are blushing."
"Seriously. Pool. Out back. Get ready to be all wet."
"If you don't come with me, I'm going to tell him to stop pining, because you're not interested."
"You are not going to tell him that."
"Yes. I am. In fact—" She pulled out her cell phone. "I'm going to tell him right now."
Her hands were flying across the keys. Nick was on his feet yanking it out of her hands before he even knew he was moving.
She didn't fight him.
Then he looked down at what she'd typed. Not a message to Adam. A message to him.
You deserve a break, too, Nick.
He sighed. "I don't know."
Her voice gentled. "I know you still like him." She paused. "It's not a date. It's an hour in the studio."
An hour watching Adam dance. He'd almost come undone the first time. But eager butterflies were hanging streamers for a party in his stomach. "All right. I'll come with you."
"Yay!" She clapped.
"You seem overly enthusiastic. Like you said, it's an hour in the studio. Nothing might happen."
"Oh, it's not that." She smiled sweetly. "Really, I needed a ride."
Nick grabbed her and flung her over his shoulder. "That's it. Pool."
She laughed. "You're excited. Come on. Admit it."
He set her on her feet, but didn't let her go. Up close, he could look into the blue of her eyes. She was very pretty, with enough curves to draw attention. She whined about being fat all the time, but dance kept her body toned and muscled.
After catching him with Adam, she'd offered to continue playing the role of his girlfriend. It let him keep his secret from his brothers, but it also kept her from going out and meeting a guy who would care about what she had to offer.
This whole setup was so wrong. "I hate using you," he said.
"Do you want to have an epic breakup?"
"You deserve to date a guy who likes you."
"So do you."
Nick clamped his mouth shut and turned back to the path, slapping the next stone into place.
"We can stop if you want," said Quinn. "I'll go back to nightly screaming matches with my mother, you go back to screwing easy girls so you look like a total player."
"Quinn. I was not—"
"Maybe you weren't sleeping with them, but you were using them just the same." At his fierce look, she gave him one right back. "They might not have known the truth about you, but it doesn't make it any different."
"I wasn't using them."
"Yes. You were."
Yes. He was. Nick looked at the rock in his hands, then shoved it into line with the others.
"It's not going to go away, Nick!" cried Quinn. "If you don't want to pretend with me, that's fine. But it's not fair to pretend with anyone else, either."
She was right. It wasn't fair. None of it was fair.
"What are you thinking?" said Quinn. "That you'll break up with me and find some new skank who'll keep your cover more effectively?"
"Fine. Go ahead. I'll go find my own ride." She stood and stormed toward the road.
Nick caught her before she could get too far. Quinn had a history of making poor decisions. Ending up unconscious on the beach with a few drunken bikers was only the most recent. She was lucky he'd found her before anything else could happen.
"Stop," he said. "Stop."
He expected to find her expression distraught, but instead she looked challenging. "Why are you stopping me?"
"Because you're my friend."
"You're mine, too." She reached up to give the brim of his hat a yank. "Have you ever thought about just ... telling your brothers?"
He sighed and looked away. He thought about it all the time. Then he'd remember the thousand-and-one locker room gay jokes he'd heard from his twin. He'd remember Gabriel's swift and brutal judgment of anything new. Gabriel knew how to cut right to the quick, and this felt so fragile and untested that Nick was afraid to bare skin in the face of that blade.
Then there was Michael, overworked and overwrought, who'd said last week that he couldn't handle one more complication in their lives. Nick did the bookkeeping for their landscaping business—they could practically reach out and touch their bottom line.
That left Chris, brooding and distant, who might be okay with it—or he might not.
They couldn't afford discord right now.
"Things at home—they're complicated ..." he started. Then he caught her eyes. His things at home had nothing on hers. "I don't want to rock the boat," he finally said.
"What about Hunter?" she said. "Are you guys still sharing a room?"
"Yeah, until we figure out a new sleeping arrangement. And seriously, you think I should start with my roommate, who, gee, happens to be my twin brother's best friend? You're right, Quinn. That's a great idea." He left her and went back to the path. At least slinging flagstone gave him a way to work off frustration.
Quinn came back to the bench and resumed stretching. "Is that weird for you? Sharing a room with a guy?"
"I shared a room with Gabriel for the first twelve years of my life."
"That's not what I mean, and you know it."
Nick rolled more sand flat. "No," he said, his tone resigned. "It's not weird. At least not for me."
"You think it would be for him?"
Nick had no idea. He didn't say anything.
"Tell me," said Quinn. "Does he have tattoos and piercings all over his body, or what? Though I can't decide whether that would be hot or disgusting—"
Nick threw a handful of sand at her.
But really, he had no answer. He was so well practiced in the art of Do Not Look at Other Guys that he kept his head in a book anytime Hunter was even in the room.
And Hunter totally wasn't his type anyway.
"I'll stop pushing," said Quinn.
"But you're definitely coming tonight."
"Oh, you can't back out now. I already texted Adam that you'll be there."
His head swung around. "You what?"
"He's looking forward to it. See?" She held up her phone.
A smiley face.
A smiley face? Nick had no idea what that meant. Was that casual happy? Excited happy? An obligatory response that didn't mean anything? It wasn't even a D smiley. It was one of the parenthesis ones.
God, he was trying to puzzle out the hidden meaning of the punctuation in a frigging emoticon.
"You look nervous," said Quinn.
She got down on her knees next to him in the grass. "Don't be nervous," she said quietly. "He really likes you, Nick."
Nick knew that.
And that was the problem. He really liked him back.
Quinn thought Nick Merrick was the best boyfriend in the world.
He'd been pretty sweet before she found out he was gay, but now ... now she knew he liked her for her, when all the other guys she'd ever dated took every opportunity to get into her pants.
It seemed fitting that the best relationship in her life would be just as dysfunctional as all her other ones. Her alcoholic mother. Her more-absent-than-not father. Her stoner older brother and her video game–obsessed younger brother. The cheerleaders who hated her, the dance team that didn't want her—if a gay boyfriend was the best she could do, she'd take it.
He worried he was using her—well, she worried she was using him. Hanging out with Nick gave her an opportunity to avoid her own family. And Becca, too, if you got right down to it.
Quinn didn't resent losing her best friend to Chris Merrick.
"You're quiet," said Nick.
Quinn glanced over. He was driving the landscaping truck with one hand on the wheel, the other arm across the seat backs.
For one second, she regretted the whole gay thing and wished she could curl up against him, let his arm wrap around her shoulder and make her feel wanted.
Then she told that moment of longing to shove it.
"I was thinking about Becca," she said.
"She and Chris seem to be getting pretty serious." He seemed amused.
She snorted. "Like a heart attack."
He was silent for a moment. "You guys aren't hanging out much lately?"
Nick could always see right through her. Quinn shrugged.
"It's fine. I'm glad she's happy."
"And you sound so sincere about it."
Quinn hit him on the arm. "No. I am. I just ... miss her, you know? And I'm ..."
Jealous. She was jealous.
But she couldn't say that.
"It's fine," she said. "I shouldn't have brought up Becca.
She's just spending all this time with Chris, and I get it, but she doesn't talk to me anymore. I don't think she's hiding something, but it's almost like she's got this new life that I'm not a part of. If that makes any sense."
Nick sighed. "Yeah, Quinn, it actually makes a lot of sense." He hit the turn signal for their street. "Did you tell Becca about me?"
"Of course not! God, what kind of friend do you think I am?"
He held up a hand. "I'm just saying—maybe you both have secrets."
He dropped his arm to give her half a hug—totally platonic, and nothing she really wanted. But she took the comfort all the same.
"You're a good friend," he said. "That's the kind I think you are."
Quinn straightened and studied him. Nick really was a looker—all dark hair and blue eyes and broad shoulders. Muscled arms from all the landscaping. Just enough freckles sprinkled across those high cheekbones to make him look boyish and charming.
Then again, his twin brother had those same freckles, and there was nothing boyish and charming about him.
"Actually," Nick said slowly, "it's probably time I should tell you another secret—" He broke off, his voice hardening to steel. "Damn it."
Quinn followed his gaze. They were turning up his driveway, and a blond guy was making his way down the walk from their house. The guy looked pissed.
"Who's that?" she said.
"Tyler Morgan. He's an asshole." Nick threw the truck into park and hesitated there, glaring at the guy as he walked toward them.
Tyler's expression was full of fury. He said something, but Quinn couldn't hear him over the diesel engine with the windows closed.
Then Nick killed the engine just as Tyler turned his gaze on Quinn.
Excerpted from Secret by BRIGID KEMMERER. Copyright © 2014 Brigid Kemmerer. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted February 4, 2014
I didn't think i would get into this book but it really touched me and brought a deeper level to the characters and the overall story. Bravo.
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Posted February 2, 2015
I really liked the first couple books but the deeper we get into the various plot lines the more and more emphasis on the homosexual angst of one of the main characters. Just be aware when purchasing!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2014
Ahh the Merrick brothers. It's been too long. The first three books were some of the first I ever reviewed on this blog. I'm not saying this was bad, because it definitely wasn't, but it didn't seem to be as amazing as I remember the rest of this series being. Maybe it's just been too long since I read the others, I don't know. But I do remember wanting Nick's story for a while, and now I finally read it.
Nick has a secret. He can't tell his brothers, but he's not sure he can keep it hidden for much longer. The actual event is told in his novella, Breathless, but you don't have to read that to still understand this story. Afraid he'll lose his family, Quinn agrees to continue acting as his "girlfriend" until he figures it all out. But Nick doesn't know what to do anymore. He feels the weight of everything on his shoulders: making good grades so he can get a scholarship to college, because otherwise he can't afford to go. Helping Michael out on jobs because he knows how much the family needs money. He's always done what others expect of him, but never what he wants.
I've always liked Nick, although we didn't get to see much of him in the other books as he is more sensitive, and often overshadowed by Gabriel. But Nick is getting to the point where he doesn't want that anymore. He doesn't want Gabe to always fight his battles. But while Nick was busy protesting the fact that he didn't need Gabel to fight for him, he forgot that he just needs Gabe to be there for him--and Gabe needs him.
Nick went through a lot of growth in this one, which I always like to see. Not just with allowing himself to be with Adam, but also in learning that he can say no, and that he doesn't need to carry everything by himself all the time. Its okay to let others help you. Nick struggles a lot with being weak, and how that is a reflection on him being gay, but I'm so glad that he realized otherwise. Asking for help is never a sign of being weak.
The only thing Nick was slightly immature about was fighting with Tyler practically every time they were within 10 feet of each other. I don't blame him, as Tyler starts a lot of it, and who can blame Nick after the way Tyler terrorized him as a child? But there were some parts that I was just like, if they would talk it out, they would realize they were actually on the same side. Imagine that.
I wasn't too big on Quinn either, as she was really immature and just rubbed me the wrong way. But Quinn did some of her own growing, and I loved seeing that as well. I always said my favorite part of this series was the family relationships that are showcased, between the brothers. This wasn't shown as much, as Nick was trying to spend time away from them, but the brothers did come through for each other like always, and I loved it.
And of course, this was filled with action and suspense, just like the rest of the series. Although I still felt something off, this was everything I've come to expect from the Merricks.
Posted October 5, 2014
So far this series is awesome. I'm a little older than the intended reader but it is definitely keeping me interested. With that being said, I'm not entirely comfortable with the turn this story takes. I am not judging anyone but its just not a story I am comfortable with and I know a lot of parents who wouldn't be either. I think the description of the book should hint at where this story is going to give the readers a heads up. But again, I really really really do love this series so far, a heads up would have been nice though.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 15, 2014
Posted August 8, 2014
Posted March 5, 2014
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Ah, yay! Back with the Merricks. It's always a wild ride, and I finish each book saying that the one I just read about is my favorite brother, so I don't think that I can pick. I will just suffice it to say that they are all awesome in their own ways and I love every minute reading about them. I chose to request Secret because I enjoyed the other books in the series, and it is a given that I want to read anything else with them in it.
So, Brigid Kemmerer, the author delivers the same breath-taking romance, action, character development and general kick assing that I have come to expect from her, and I love this series more and more as it continues.
I will say that I ended up feeling sympathy and relating with someone that I never saw coming in this one and it is thanks to dear ole Quinn. She is so fiesty and I appreciate the time I get in her head in this one. She has such a rough situation at home, and I like the friendship between her and Nick, although I wish they could have seen and admitted how much they were using each other. But I suppose that it all works out, or as my grandma used to say, nothing that wouldn't come out in the wash.
And, oh my, we get more Nick and Adam in this one. I love both of these characters, and they are dynamic and hot together. Nick is so thoughtful and protective, and loyal. He is the responsible one, but we get to see him struggling more and more with who he is and how to manage everything and it takes its toll. I hate seeing him in so much pain hiding who he is from his brothers, especially Gabriel, but I can def understand where he is coming from. Although we know that Gabriel loves deeply and they have this bond between him, he is still reckless and says a million things that he shouldn't, things that he doesn't even know cuts so deeply.
The pacing is amazing, I read it all in a day, staying up way later than I ever should with two children who wake before 7am reading. I just kept saying, one more chapter until it was over, and I loved every second.
The ending made me want so much more, and left me with finishing a great book high. It wasn't a cliffie persay, but all of Brigid's books make me eager for the next one so I can learn more about these great characters and spend more time with them.
Bottom Line: Loved it and will continue to devour anything related to the Merrick brothers.
Posted March 3, 2014
Continuing on with this series, I got the next book cause I was excited to read it.
Plot: The story picks up where it left off and once again the reader is off for an adventure. This time were in Nick shoe’s and his life is getting a bit complicated at the moment. The reader also see’s more into the brothers and what they are doing in their life. The plot moves pretty fast pace. There are lots of things happening. The lying, sneaking around and constants fights, it keeps the reader sited in the story.
Love: Nick is having a hard time with his sexual identity. As the reader, I can see how hard it is for him. He has held this secret for such a long time and even let one of his good friends carry the burden makes it harder for him. I like that the reader gets a good insight on his struggles to find himself. He goes back and forth so many times that when he finally comes out, it’s like a relief.
Ending: Of course even though ending is good, I know that this story is far from over. Other things are popping up and I can’t wait to read a big final battle. It’s seems like now that the series is well into the story, I can see the build nicely to a grand ending. (At least that is what I’m expecting.)
Overall, this is a good book! I really enjoyed it and watching the brothers interact. If you have not read this series, you should check it out.
Posted January 31, 2014
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley.)
This is book 4 in the ‘Elemental’ series.
Nick knows that he likes boys, and more specifically he likes Adam, but his emotions are not in check and he seems to be sending Quinn running into the arms of someone he really doesn’t like or trust.
Can Nick come clean to his brothers about who he is dating, and the fact that it’s a guy?
This was an okay story, but for me the ending was much better than the first 80% of the book.
I really liked ‘Breathless’, so I was looking forward to seeing what happened with Nick and Adam in this book. Nick seemed quite preoccupied in this book though, and it was hard to get a real feel for him most of the time. I understood how he felt, and how difficult things were for him, but I also understood how hard it was for him to admit to his brothers that he was gay.
The storyline in this mainly revolved around Nick and Adam, with some time also devoted to Quinn and Tyler. Unlike the last book where everything was about the guides, this time everything was about the romance, and for me neither of these were ideal as I felt there needed to be more balance.
The romance in this was okay, and I liked Adam’s flirty little texts, but it didn’t have quite the same ‘heart-racing, OMG, I love him, I can’t put this down, I’ll die if he doesn’t kiss her right now’ quality that Spark had. I thought the Male-Male romance was done well though, and I was happy for Nick and Adam, I just didn’t get as involved in the romance as I might have done, I don’t know why. I don’t think it was just because it was Male-Male though as I didn’t feel it with Quinn and Tyler either.
The rest of the storyline was basically missing until around the 80% mark, when things suddenly started to happen, and we got some real action and excitement –finally! The last 20% of the book was really good, and definitely improved this book for me. We were then left with a bit of a cliff-hanger right at the end though.
Overall; okay, but not as good as Spark for me.
7 out of 10.
Posted January 28, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***
Secret by Brigid Kemmerer
Book Four of the Elemental series
Publisher: K Teen
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
Nowhere is safe. Not even home…
Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.
Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown.
Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.
Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—-or he’ll lose his family.
Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.
Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.
There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.
Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?
What I Liked:
I can honestly tell you guys that after I read Spirit and Breathless (both quite recently, might I say), I was BEYOND excited to read Secret. Nick and his secrets, Quinn and her broken heart, the problem of the Guides being a threat... everything is coming to a major climax in the series, and I just knew this book would be super significant in the series, as well as by itself.
In this book, we get the story of Nick, and of Quinn. Quinn knows about Nick and his uncertainty his sexuality, and so she keeps up the pretense of being his girlfriend. That lets Nick have more time to decide, it lets him have an excuse to go watch her dance (her AND her new dance partner), and it lets Quinn have a boyfriend. Sort of. All the while, there is a Guide in town who is more dangerous than Silver. And Nick's grades are suffering, due to a new distraction (or fifty).
I flew through this book. Like, usually when I'm reading a book, I'll occasionally take note of the percentage of which I've read, or the page number I've reached. With this book, I think I saw "10%, and then I read the rest in one straight shot. I read the whole book in one sitting, but I only looked at the percentage one time, early in the book, and then just read. You know what this tells me? I wasn't bored at all. Kemmerer kept this book interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading and reading. That is SO RARE, for me.
But how could this book NOT be interesting? So many things are happening all at once, in this series. Each book has it's own plot, but then there is the series plot. In this series, it's all coming down to the Pure Elementals versus the Guides. By the end of this book, something noticeable has shifted, changed, and the finally showdown while take place in book five.
Nevertheless, I LOVED this book's plot as well. It was definitely engaging and never boring. We get to see Nick struggle, something that no one sees except Nick himself, and sometimes Quinn (and now, someone else). Nick is so different from the other boys, and Kemmerer did an EXCELLENT job of keeping him in character.
In general, I love how well Kemmerer does this. Like, a lot of times, I notice that over an entire series, when an author has many characters that keep popping up consistently in the series, the characters start to sound the same or act similarly. But Kemmerer does a really great job of keeping each character unique and SEPARATE. Like, Becca is still Becca, exactly how she seemed in book one. Same with Chris - that was impressive, how Chris stills seems like Chris from Storm. Even though we're not seeing certain characters in the spotlight, the characters still seem exactly like how they were in the book they were featured. Bravo!
Kemmerer hits two major real-life issues in this book. Nick is uncertain about his sexuality, and when he understands that part of himself, he has trouble telling his family and friends. Quinn lives in abusive home - her mother and brother drink and shoot up and physically harm her, but Quinn doesn't want to call the police or Social Services, because she doesn't want her and her little brother to be split up into different foster homes.
I love that even though these books are paranormal-based, Kemmerer makes them so realistic that they seem like contemporary reads. She even has tough issues like the ones I mentioned above, and I love this. I love that Kemmerer includes domestic violence and homosexuality in this book. Both are current, real issues in today's society, and Kemmerer attacks them head-on. Okay, attacks is not the best choice of words. But I hope you see what I mean, and don't misconstrue that statement.
Let's talk romance. So, by now, I'm sure you know that Nick is gay. I hope everyone read Breathless, because that little, short novella is a GEM. Well, suffice it to say, I love the relationship between Adam and Nick - it's one of true friendship, gradual trust, and attraction. Those three things are important in any relationship, and I love how well Kemmerer built those ideals (and others) into Nick and Adam's relationship. Both males walked into the relationship scarred somehow, and Kemmerer uses this fact to make the pair seem imperfect but real.
And... there is another romance story in this book. You didn't think Kemmerer would leave out Quinn, did you? Honestly, I did, and so when I saw the direction Kemmerer was going with this guy and Quinn, I was all over that. It was subtle, and I totally picked up on it, but I wasn't sure... until it wasn't subtle anymore. I LOVE the relationship that Quinn has with this mystery guy (no spoilers). I love seeing this side of him. I feel like I actually understand him - I see his side of things. We can't vilify characters (or people) without knowing and understanding their side of things. Kemmerer proves this point, with this relationship.
I didn't like Quinn very much in previous books - she was AWFUL to Becca (Becca is my favorite, okay? So is Chris. Storm is my favorite book of the series - so far). Even in this book, Quinn is a royal pain in the butt at times, especially to Becca and other people that care about her. BUT, by the end of the book, we can really see the change in Quinn. So, her character development was pretty spot-on.
The ending... oh, I need book five, like, RIGHT NOW. None of Kemmerer's books end in cliffhangers, but the overall plot of the series has me begging for book five. PLEASE. Release date? September 30, 2014? Excellent. That's this year. Good. I am content with that.
What I Did Not Like:
There wasn't much that I didn't like. One thing I wanted more of was more of a display of the romance between Quinn and her new man. Towards the end, I was hoping to see more. We don't get more, which is okay, I get it, but I feel like this was Quinn's book as much as it was Nick's, sort of. So, I wanted to see more, towards the end, of the other romance in the book - Quinn and her guy. But that's okay.
Would I Recommend It:
I most certainly would! If you've been reading this series, keep reading! Don't worry if you don't like Quinn, or if you think that the series is too long, or whatever. You'll most likely end up loving Quinn (like I did), and the flow of the series's plot is fantastic.
And if you have a problem with reading about gay people or gay culture or anything related, I still think you should give this book a chance. Open-mindedness is a beautiful thing! And who knows? Kemmerer might convince you to see things in a different way. I totally understand that everyone has their own beliefs (really, I do get it. More than you know), but give this book a chance!
4 stars. This book is definitely my second favorite of the series! Second only to Storm, which no book in this series will touch. Except Sacrifice COULD, since I obviously have not read it yet. Basically, I'm saying that this
Posted January 28, 2014
5 Stars...The tumultuous romance! Brigid Kemmerer’s stirring delivery! Loved it!
Nick Merrick is the brains to his identical twin Gabriel’s brawn. He’s a considerate Air Elemental. Gabriel’s a rash Fire Elemental. The part of peacemaker has long been Nick’s role in the targeted family. With the help of a friend, he hides a significant truth concerning his identity. How his family will react remains uncertain. Guides are hunting the Pure Elemental Merrick Family. The girl who learns Nick’s secret has dangerous secrets of her own.
A young handsome dancer unleashes the closeted part of Nick that he’s long suspected. Joy, fear, passion, and insecurity wind tightly inside. College means leaving his family behind. Hiding his boyfriend could mean losing something special. Coming out to his brothers may cost him his best friend, yet none if this may matter if the Elemental Guides finally succeed in killing the Merricks.
Never have I met a young adult character who felt so real! It’s obvious Ms. Kemmerer researched above and beyond the call of duty in preparing for a this paranormal teen romance. Nick’s “coming out’ of the closet ran a gamut of emotions. (He’s so torn!) The tone was never too serious, containing cleverly amusing dialogue between Nick and Adam. I was absolutely consumed by the story’s refreshingly honest and remarkably passionate telling.
Oh, how safe and responsible Nick Merrick yearned! His emotions can be recognized by anyone who ever felt a charged attraction to someone. For the first time in his life he felt. Everything clicked into place for him and he was deeply afraid. His inner turmoil was heartfelt! The emotions in Secret, from passion to fear - hummed across my ereader’s screen. The whole story buzzed with chemistry and turmoil. This book was alive!
Then there was Quinn! (She’s the character who’s also on the book cover.) Her character has been present since the first Elementals book. She’s selfish, moody, and troubled. Quinn may be oft-putting to some fans but she’s the emotional basket case, diva, or drama queen some readers may recall from high school. Basically, she’s a mess…for a very good reason. Quinn’s thorns maintain their presence throughout the story. They are expected under the circumstances and consistent with her experiences. Once her story was revealed it provided the ‘aha’ moment, explaining her self-destructive behaviors. With the help of an unexpected friendship (and what a surprising turn of events it turned out to be), Quinn may be on the right path to overcome her troubles. I do hope see more of Quinn and her potentially redeemable shady friend.
The Merricks and their relationships dominated the story, but the ongoing story arc between Pure Elementals and the Elemental Guides had a little bit of show time. Hopefully, there is more to come beyond Michael Merrick's upcoming book. All I can say in conclusion to reading Secret is... I am awed, Ms. Kemmerer!
ARC courtesy of K Teen (Kensington Books) via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Posted January 19, 2014
This fourth full installment in the five part Elemental series is finally here, and it’s just what we’ve come to expect from the talented Brigid Kemmerer! Intense, sensual, fast-paced, and heart-wrenching, it’s an unputdownable read, keeping readers up late into the night until the very last sentence leaps off the page.
It’s a beautiful story following the life of Nick—the only Merrick brother who, as of yet, has not been the center of his own book. Whereas Michael has Elemental, Chris has Storm, Gabriel has Spark, and even Hunter, an outsider to the family, has Spirit, Nick has, until this moment, been more so on the sidelines. In other words, Kemmerer was saving the best for last. Granted Michael has not had a full novel all to himself yet either, but I’m counting his novella here.
Nick has always been a quiet, level headed soul. He’s the brother everyone can count on, and in so being, he has internalized much of his emotions. Convinced his family wouldn’t understand his wants and needs, he keeps his desires to himself, bottled up from the whole world, refusing to face his inner being. Yearning to run away from it all and attend college out of state, he also struggles with admitting his newfound attraction to Adam, a beautiful soul that really helps make this story.
The threat of the Guides, the lack of income, and the pressure of school steadily overcomes Nick as he attempts to keep his life together. But as tensions rise, his outlets begin to diminish while his ever present fear for those around him continues to mount, causing Nick to begin to fall in more ways than one.
This is a beautiful story of acceptance, focusing not only the choices at hand, but also on the past. It is a story of forgiveness, of finding one’s way in the world and picking up the pieces when it all falls apart. And ultimately, it is a story of love—through friendship, family, and romance.
This novel is by far the best of the series, though I’ve loved every single book, and I cannot wait for the final installment, that of Michael Merrick, to bring the series full circle. It begins with Michael, and so it will end with Michael, and I just know Kemmerer has some amazing things in store for her readers.
Posted December 30, 2013
When I received the email stating that I got approved to read this, I was jumping for joy. I was super excited! I love the series so much and this book surely did not disappoint. I was so enthralled with the book, I was done with it within the day.
I wasn't so sure about the cover because that is not who portrayed who Nick in the other covers. Reading this book, I was able to figure it out. So if anyone's wondering, just read the book.
The author just has a way to writing these characters. I love every single one of them...well not all but majority of them. Oh Nick, Nick, Nick, he had such a hard time with his secret (if you read the novella Breathless, then you'll know what I'm talking about). He's such an awesome person and I'm glad this story got to expose more of him.
Since this book switched between Nick and Quinn, we got to see more on what makes Quinn, Quinn. Her family life just sucked and it made her who she is. At least she gets to be happy too.
I can not wait until the next book to see more on what happens with the Guides and to see more on the Merrick brothers and Hunter.
*I received this from NetGalley*
Posted February 5, 2014
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Posted September 18, 2014
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Posted February 21, 2014
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Posted January 30, 2014
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Posted December 18, 2014
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Posted January 31, 2014
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