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Secret Sisters

Secret Sisters

4.3 50
by Jayne Ann Krentz

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No one does romantic suspense better than Jayne Ann Krentz. Now, the New York Times bestselling author of Trust No One and River Road delivers a novel that twists and turns into a read that will leave you breathless.
Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now, it


No one does romantic suspense better than Jayne Ann Krentz. Now, the New York Times bestselling author of Trust No One and River Road delivers a novel that twists and turns into a read that will leave you breathless.
Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now, it might take them to their graves.
Nearly two decades after her childhood—and her friendship with Daphne—were destroyed in one traumatic night, a dying man’s last words convey a warning to Madeline: the secrets she believed buried forever have been discovered.
Unable to trust anyone else, Madeline reaches out to Daphne and to the only man she can count on to help: Jack Rayner, a security expert with a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. Along with his high-tech genius of a brother, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth....

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A suspenseful, romantic escape."—People

"Krentz’s focus always is on the relationship between her central characters: Complex, strong-willed and vulnerable, they’re at the heart of what might be her best work yet."—The Seattle Times

“Fans of bestselling Krentz’s books once again hit the literary jackpot with Secret Sisters as the doyenne of sophisticated romantic suspense serves up another irresistible combination of sharply etched characters, suspenseful plotting, smoldering sexual chemistry, and wonderfully written dialogue that snaps, crackles, and pops with the author's distinctive wit.”—Booklist (starred review)

"A twisting ride on a bullet train of romantic suspense...an adroit tale of old friends, new loves and edge-of-your-seat suspense...So buckle up and expect to lose sleep, because just when you think you've figured it out, Secret Sisters will throw you a new curve."—BookPage
“Krentz expertly introduces plausible suspects, weaving in sexual tension between Jack and Madeline and terrifying uncertainty as someone strikes to eliminate the remaining secret-holders. Krentz scores another winner with complex characters and seamless plotting.”—Publishers Weekly
“The characters are engaging, and the story is intriguing. Krentz delivers another twisty, plot-driven romantic suspense novel, with two satisfying love stories in the mix.”—Kirkus Reviews
“With its cleverly constructed mysteries, excellently written characters, perfectly ominous setting, and just the right amount of romance, Secret Sisters is an addictive and exciting read.”—Tattooed Book Review (5 stars)
“Romantic suspense and Krentz are an unbeatable duo...mesmerizing...The bonus with this book—besides the fascinating mystery—is it also delivers two romantic relationships. Settle back and enjoy as Krentz takes you on one thrilling adventure!”—RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars, Top Pick)

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/12/2015
In bestselling author Krentz’s gripping new romantic thriller, hotel heiress Madeline Chase returns from Arizona to the spooky abandoned Aurora Point Hotel, on one of the San Juan Islands of Washington State, to find the caretaker dying from a head wound and the assailant stalking her. Madeline and Edith, her grandmother, fled the island 18 years ago, after 12-year-old Madeline was attacked. Only five people know the gruesome details of the incident, including the caretaker and Edith, who are now dead; the others are Madeline, her friend Daphne, and Daphne’s mother. Madeline brings in Jack Rayner, a former FBI consultant and the head of her hotel security team, and together they pursue their own investigation, though Jack has a secret of his own. Krentz (Trust No One) expertly introduces plausible suspects, weaving in sexual tension between Jack and Madeline and terrifying uncertainty as someone strikes to eliminate the remaining secret-holders. Krentz scores another winner with complex characters and seamless plotting. Agent: Steve Axelrod, Axelrod Agency. (Dec.)
Library Journal
★ 12/01/2015
Cooper Island is the last place boutique hotel chain owner Madeline Chase ever wanted to revisit, but when she receives a worried call from the caretaker of Aurora Point, the shuttered hotel that her late grandmother once owned, she reluctantly heads for the small San Juan Island where she grew up. Murder awaits and so does the past as Madeline reconnects with her childhood best friend and "secret sister" and is plunged into a nightmare that is rooted in a terrifying, life-changing event she'd hoped to have buried forever. Family skeletons, career-crushing secrets, multiple villains, and exactingly drawn characters (including gunslinger-sexy, tough-minded security expert Jack Rayner) keep the action swift and the plot humming in this violence-laced thriller that is hard to put down. VERDICT Long-kept mysteries resurface with deadly results in this mesmerizing, well-crafted tale that doles out clues with clever precision and keeps the tension high, the romance simmering, and the revelations coming until the very end. Krentz (Siren's Call) lives in Seattle. [See Prepub Alert, 6/29/15; an LJ Best Romance of 2015, see p. 36.—Ed.]
Kirkus Reviews
Eighteen years after she was attacked by a pedophile, Madeline Chase's past is haunting her, and while she knows the man is dead, a recent murder lets her know his dangerous secrets have not been forgotten. Still grieving the recent loss of her grandmother in a fire and navigating her new role as chief of the small hotel chain she's inherited, Madeline is surprised when she's summoned to the site of her grandmother's first hotel, the scene of the attack on her when she was 12, by the abandoned property's caretaker, Tom. She arrives to find him dying from what looks like a fall, but when a shadowy figure comes after her, she realizes Tom was murdered and she could have been too, if not for her quick thinking. Calling her sexy head of security, Jack Rayner, to the area, the two begin digging into the long-buried secrets of the man who attacked Madeline all those years ago and who was killed by Tom and Madeline's grandmother before he could rape her. There were some mysteries that everyone thought had gone to the grave with the attacker, but someone has clearly discovered them, and Madeline and Jack have to try to figure out what they are in order to protect Madeline and Daphne, her childhood best friend who was with her the night of the attack and with whom she's reconnecting after all these years. The more they dig, the more perilous their situation becomes; it's unclear exactly who the enemy is, but the assaults seem to be escalating and coming from a variety of directions. The complex mystery gets a little implausible at times, but overall the characters are engaging, and the story is intriguing. Krentz delivers another twisty, plot-driven romantic suspense novel, with two satisfying love stories in the mix.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Five

Tom Lomax was dying. Blood and other matter draining from the terrible head wound soaked the threadbare carpet. His thin, wiry body was crumpled at the foot of the grand staircase that once upon a time had graced the lobby of Aurora Point Hotel.

He looked up at Madeline with faded blue eyes glazed with shock and blood loss.

“Maddie? Is that you?”

“It’s me, Tom. You’ve had a bad fall. Lie still.”

“I failed, Maddie. I’m sorry. Edith trusted me to protect you. I failed.”

“It’s all right, Tom.” Madeline held her wadded-up scarf against the terrible gash on Tom’s head. “I’m calling nine-one-one. Help will be here soon.”

“Too late.” Tom struggled to reach out to her with a clawlike hand that had been weathered and scarred from decades of hard physical labor. “Too late.”

The 911 operator was asking for information.

“. . . the nature of your emergency?”

“I’m at the Aurora Point Hotel,” Madeline said, automatically sliding into her executive take-charge tone. “It’s Tom Lomax, the caretaker. He’s had a bad fall. He needs an ambulance immediately.”

“I’ve got a vehicle on the way,” the operator said. “Is he bleeding?”


“Try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure.”

Madeline looked at the blood-soaked scarf she was using to try to stanch the flood pouring from the wound.

“What do you think I’m doing?” she said. “Get someone here. Now.”

She tossed the phone down on the floor so that she could apply more pressure to Tom’s injury. But she could feel his life force seeping away. His eyes were almost blank.

“The briefcase,” he whispered.

Another shock wave crashed through her.

“Tom, what about the briefcase?”

“I failed.” Tom closed his eyes. “Sunrise. You always liked my sunrises.”

“Tom, please, tell me about the briefcase.”

But Tom was beyond speech now. He took one more raspy breath and then everything about him stopped. The utter stillness of death settled on him.

Madeline realized that the blood was no longer pouring from the wound. She touched bloody fingertips to Tom’s throat. There was no pulse.

A terrible silence flooded the lost-in-time lobby of the abandoned hotel. She knew that Tom was gone, but she had read that the first responder was supposed to apply chest compressions until the medics arrived. She positioned her hands over his heart.

Somewhere in the echoing gloom a floorboard creaked. She froze, her gaze fixed on the broken length of balcony railing that lay on the threadbare carpet beside the body. For the first time she noticed the blood and bits of hair clinging to it.

There were probably several scenarios that could explain the blood and hair on the broken railing, but the one that made the most sense was that it had been used to murder Tom.

The floorboards moaned again. As with the blood and hair on the strip of balcony railing, there were a lot of possible explanations for the creaking sounds overhead. But one of them was that Tom had, indeed, been murdered and the killer was still on the scene.

She listened intently, hoping to hear sirens, but the wind was picking up now, cloaking sounds in the distance.

The floorboards overhead groaned again. This time she was almost certain she heard a footstep. Her intuition was screaming at her now.

Instinctively she turned off the phone so that it would not give away her location if the operator called back. She scrambled to her feet.

Somewhere on the floor above, rusty door hinges squeaked. One of the doors that allowed access to the upstairs veranda had just opened.

She looked down at Tom one last time and knew in her heart that there was nothing more she could do for him.

“I’m sorry, Tom,” she whispered.

Her car was parked in the wide, circular driveway in front. She slung the strap of her heavy tote over one shoulder and sprinted toward the lobby doors.

The vast, ornate room was drenched in age and gloom. The dusty chandeliers were suspended from the high ceiling like so many dark, frozen waterfalls. The electricity had been cut off eighteen years earlier. When her grandmother had closed the old hotel she had left all the furnishings behind.

Edith had claimed that the heavy, oversized chairs and end tables, the graceful, claw-footed sofas, and the velvet draperies had been custom designed to suit the Victorian-style architecture and would look out of place anywhere else. But Madeline knew that was not the real reason why they hadn’t taken any of the furniture with them. The real reason was that neither of them wanted any reminders of the Aurora Point Hotel.

In its heyday at the dawn of the twentieth century, the hotel had been a glamorous destination, attracting the wealthy travelers and vacationers of the era. Her grandmother had tried to revive the ambience and atmosphere of that earlier time, but in the end it had proved too expensive. In the wake of the violent night eighteen years ago, there had been no way to get rid of the property. Selling the Aurora Point Hotel was never an option after that night. There were too many secrets buried on the grounds.

Madeline was halfway across the cavernous space when she saw the shadows shift beneath the rotting velvet curtains that covered one of the bay windows. It could have been a trick of the light caused by the oncoming storm, but she was not about to take a chance. The shadow had looked too much like a partial silhouette of a figure moving very rapidly toward the front doors. It was possible that she had seen the shadow of the killer. The bastard had used the veranda stairs at the back of the building to get down to the ground and was now moving toward the front lobby entrance to intercept her.

In another moment whoever was out there would come through the lobby doors. She had to assume the worst-case scenario—Tom’s killer was hunting her.

Madeline retrieved her keys from her shoulder bag and dropped the tote on the floor. She could hear the muffled thud of running footsteps on the lower veranda now.

She bolted behind the broad staircase and went down a narrow service hall. She had grown up in the Aurora Point. She knew every inch of the place. In the many decades of its existence it had been remodeled and repaired countless times. The gracious, oversized proportions of the public rooms concealed a warren of smaller spaces that made up the back-of-the-house. There was a large kitchen, a commercial-sized pantry, storage rooms, and the laundry.

There was also the back stairs that the staff had used to service the guest rooms.

She summoned up a mental diagram of the layout of the sprawling hotel grounds. It was clear that there was no way to get to her car without being seen by whoever was on the veranda.

She heard the lobby door open just as she emerged from the small, dark hallway into the pantry. The silence that followed iced her nerves. Most people who happened to walk in on a dead body would have made some noise. At the very least they would be calling 911.

So much for the fleeting hope that the intruder might be an innocent transient or a high school kid who had stumbled onto the murder scene and was as scared as she was.

She heard more footsteps—long, deliberate strides. Someone was searching the first floor, looking for her. It would be only a matter of time before she was discovered. If the person stalking her was armed, she would not stand a chance of making it to her car.

She tried to think through a workable strategy. On the positive side, help was on the way. She needed the equivalent of a safe room until the authorities arrived.

She went to the doorway of the pantry and looked out into the big kitchen. The old appliances loomed like dinosaurs in the shadows. Beyond lay the service stairs that led to the guest rooms on the upper floors.

She rushed across the kitchen, not even trying to conceal her movements. Her shoes rang on the old tile floor. She knew her pursuer must have heard her.

Muffled footsteps suddenly pounded across the lobby, heading for the kitchen.

Madeline opened the door of the service staircase and raced up to the next floor, praying that none of the steps gave way beneath her weight.

She reached the first landing, turned, and went down the hall. Most of the room doors were closed. She chose one at the far end of the corridor, opened it, and rushed inside.

Whirling, she slammed the door shut and slid the ancient bolt home. A determined man could kick the door down, but it would take some work.

She could hear the intruder coming up the service stairs. But her pursuer would have to check the rooms one by one to find her.

Heart pounding, her breath tight in her chest, she looked down and was vaguely surprised to see that she was still clutching her phone. She stared at it, oddly numb. Very carefully she switched it on and tapped in the emergency number again. She set the phone on the top of a dusty dresser.

“Don’t hang up again,” the operator said earnestly. “The ambulance and police should be there any minute. Are you all right?”

“No,” Madeline said.

She went to the nearest piece of stout furniture, a heavy armchair, and started to drag it across the room.

“Are you in danger?” the operator demanded.

“Yes,” Madeline said. “I’m upstairs in one of the bedrooms. Someone is coming down the hall. He’ll be here any second. I’ve locked the door but I don’t know how long that will stop him.”

“Push something in front of the door.”

“Great idea,” Madeline gasped. She shoved harder on the heavy chair. “Why didn’t I think of it?”

The big chair seemed to weigh a ton, but it was moving now. She managed to maneuver it in front of the door.

She heard the footsteps stop outside her room. She grabbed her phone and headed toward the French doors that opened onto the veranda.

The storm struck just as she stepped outside. Wind-driven rain lashed at her. But she could hear the sirens in the distance.

She knew the intruder had heard them too because the footsteps were retreating down the hall, heading toward the rear stairs at a run. She knew the killer was headed for the safety of the woods that bordered the rear of the property. She remembered the old service road that wound through the trees.

A short time later she heard a car engine roar to life. The intruder was gone.

She reminded herself that there were not a lot of ways off Cooper Island. A private ferry provided service twice a day. There were also floatplanes and charter boats. The local police might have a shot at catching the killer.

Or not. Most of Cooper Island was undeveloped. A great deal of it was covered in forest. There were plenty of places where a determined murderer could hide until he found a way off the island.

She rushed to meet the emergency vehicles pulling into the drive. Mentally she made a list of what she could—and could not—tell the cops.

She had spent eighteen years keeping secrets. She was good at it.

Meet the Author

Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as futuristic and historical romance novels under the pseudonyms Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, respectively. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print.

Brief Biography

Seattle, WA
Place of Birth:
San Diego, CA
BA in History, University of California at Santa Cruz, MA in Librarianship from San Jose State University (California)

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Secret Sisters 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters continue to get better with each story Jayne Ann Krentz writes. They are individuals you want to be or have as friends. The story is woven well with believable emotions. Good storytelling! Can't wait for the next adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. Very suspenseful reading ! Loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As with every other Jayne Ann Krentz book I have read, this one was over the top fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very very good. Didn't want to put it down.
JuditaJS 6 days ago
This book got extremely slow half way though. Redundant, unnecessary paragraph after paragraph. Found myself skipping over to get to something relevant to move the story along.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Great book
CarolASM More than 1 year ago
The book catches one from the beginning, telling the reader about something that happened 18 years previously. A short chapter, but effective and completely pulls you in. Every time you think you have everything figured out, something else happens...SOMEONE else happens and you're off again. It was like reading 3 or 4 books in one. Truly sinister, evil bad guys. Loved it. Loved everyone in it.
PollyBennett More than 1 year ago
I love a good romantic suspense and, Secret Sisters didn't disappoint. This was a well written, fast, action packed book with lots of twists and turns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...to before I devoured this book. I couldn't put it down. I wish I could go back and enjoy the story for the first time again. I loved how the story was segmented and went back and forth between characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful Krentz book! Loved every minute of it, can't believe it took me so long to get around to this one. Highly recommend!
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PDX_reader_Jane More than 1 year ago
18 years ago Edith owned Aurora Point, a hotel on Cooper ISLAND, Washington. Madeline and Daphne, both 12, were best friends and loved the easy pace of the island. One night, everything changed. Edith, Madeline, Daphne and her Mom left Cooper Island with no intentions of ever returning. Yet Edith never sold that property. Fast forward 18 years … Edith Chase has died in a hotel fire and her grand daughter Madeline takes over Sanctuary Creek Inns. Edith had hired Jack Rayner and his hotel security company. Madeline tries to fire Jack, but he has a signed contract. Both are aware of an attraction, but not willing to do anything about it. Madeline receives a call from Tom Lomax, caretaker of Aurora Point Hotel and he needs to speak to her in person. She insists that Jack stay in Arizona. She arrives at the decrepit hotel to find Tom dying in a pool of blood. His last words mentioned a briefcase. At first she thinks he had fallen, but creaking footsteps on the floor above convince her to hide. Someone killed Tom, possibly Edith and now Madeline in danger. She summons Jack. There are several attempts to kill both of them. As the mystery unfolds, a powerful political family thwarts their efforts. And then there’s Jack’s secrets…… ANY book by Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick) tells a riveting story. Her characters capture your attention: you love the good guys and despise the villains! Layers of her characters peel away as the story unfolds. Madeline and Jack overcome their issues for love. I didn’t guess the true villain until almost the last page ---- a total surprise!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings An interesting combination of mystery/thriller and a little romance thrown in for good measure! Madeline had a horrifying experience as a young girl and her and her grandmother left the area and she has never returned. Her grandmother recently passed away and she is called back to this hotel to confront the past. She will take with her a new friend/confidant who also happens to run the security for the company that she inherited from her grandmother. Together they will go back to an island off Washington state's coast to confront the many ghosts of her past. The storyline for this book was just great. I loved the plot and characters. I loved that she had to return to the scene of the crime that she has avoided for 20 years. I also loved that she had someone with her that didn't know her from the past, so it was an easy vessel for the story to unfold as he was learning what happened back then.
Queenbethanny More than 1 year ago
This plot is suspenseful, in depth and exciting - full of juicy secrets thought well hidden. The slightly damaged hero & heroine and their love at first sight has a way of making you believe again. The electricity between the two jumps off the page while they rescue each other as the story unfolds. A crime against a young 12yr old girl results in 18 years of hidden secrets. Suddenly, these secrets are brought to light resulting in murder and intrigue. A powerful family seeks to keep these secrets hidden and their son's political campaign on track letting no one and nothing stand in their way.
Betty Davis More than 1 year ago
This was a fantastic, suspenseful novel that I couldn't put down. As usual Ms. Krentz weaved another novel that is more than just satisfying and thrilling, it leaves you wanting more......I'll be waiting for the next book
In_My_Humble_OpinionDA More than 1 year ago
Jayne Ann Krentz is one heck of a writer. She sucks you in and keeps you wondering. This is a fantastic romantic suspense with the accent on suspense. You know from the start that the taciturn Jack Rayner is going to get together with the damaged Madeline you just don’t know how they are going to get there. Throw in an intriguing mystery that covers a generation with more twists and turns than a politician and you have a heck of a fantastic story.
christalvp More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this romantic suspense by Jayne Anne Krentz. It had great characters and a storyline that kept me turning the pages as quickly as possible. I thought it had a nice balance of romance and suspense, and I liked the chemistry between the two main characters, Madeline and Jack. The book also had a couple of great secondary characters, Daphne and Abe. In Secret Sisters, Madeline inherits a small hotel chain from her grandmother, including the property where they lived when Madeline was a child, that was abandoned when she was twelve. Madeline travels to her childhood home for the first time since childhood after receiving a call from the caretaker. Suddenly, secrets that have been buried since she was a child appear to pose a danger to her, as well as others. She calls upon her hotel chain's security consultant, Jack Rayner, to help her figure out how current events tie into her past after she finds the caretaker dead in the hotel. With help from her childhood friend, Daphne, and Jack's brother, Abe, she and Jack hope to find who is behind the current murder, as well as events in the past before the danger catches up to them. I thought this was an intriguing book, and I enjoyed all of it. The setting of the old, abandoned hotel gave just the right atmosphere to the story. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest review.
LoriP123 More than 1 year ago
I loved this story! Jayne Ann Krentz is the best at weaving suspense and romance into the prefect story! Madeline and Daphne haven't seen each other in 18 years, not after that frightful night that changed all of their lives forever. Now with people dying suddenly who were there on the island all of those years ago they will have to reach out to one another and figure out how to stop more people from dying. With the help from two security men they will have to remember that night and put the pieces together in order to stop more murders from happening. I was given an ARC for an honest review. All conclusions are mine and mine alone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago