The Secrets She Carried

( 7 )

Overview

When a young woman returns to North Carolina after a thirty-year absence, she finds that the once grand tobacco plantation she called home holds more secrets than she ever imagined.

Though Peak Plantation has been in her family for generations, Leslie Nichols can’t wait to rid herself of the farm left to her by her estranged grandmother Maggie—and with it the disturbing memories of her mother’s death, her father’s disgrace, and her unhappy ...

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Overview

When a young woman returns to North Carolina after a thirty-year absence, she finds that the once grand tobacco plantation she called home holds more secrets than she ever imagined.

Though Peak Plantation has been in her family for generations, Leslie Nichols can’t wait to rid herself of the farm left to her by her estranged grandmother Maggie—and with it the disturbing memories of her mother’s death, her father’s disgrace, and her unhappy childhood. But Leslie isn’t the only one with a claim to Peak.

Jay Davenport, Peak’s reclusive caretaker, has his own reasons for holding onto the land bequeathed to him by Leslie’s grandmother. Before she died, Maggie hinted at a terrible secret surrounding Adele Laveau, a lady’s maid who came to Peak during the 1930s and died under mysterious circumstances. Jay is haunted by Maggie’s story, yet the truth eludes him—until Leslie uncovers a cryptically marked grave on the property.

As they delve into the mystery of Adele’s death, Leslie and Jay discover shocking secrets that extend deep into the roots of Leslie’s family tree—secrets that have the power to alter her life forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
An old tobacco plantation buries past secrets and unearths opportunities for new beginnings in Davis' romantic generation-spanning debut. Leslie Nichols returns to her North Carolina roots to claim an inheritance left by her estranged grandmother. Once a darling of the luxury lifestyle magazine world, 38-year-old Leslie's fallen on hard times since glossies have succumbed to electronic media, and she's eager to unload Peak Plantation, head back to NYC and start anew. Sounds like a solid plan, but the heiress runs into some major stumbling blocks. First, she discovers Grandma Maggie's ventured into the winemaking industry and left half of her estate to a handsome, younger business partner, Jay Davenport. Second, Leslie's determination to unload the large house and make a quick killing is thwarted by a real estate market that's as bottomed out as Leslie. Third, a sepia photograph of an old grave and a set of keys pique Leslie's curiosity, and suddenly, she's all hot to uncover secrets about her ancestors. And there are secrets everywhere. After resisting, Leslie agrees to partner with Jay in the wine business and puts her marketing skills to good use. Of course, romantic sparks fly while Leslie discovers old paintings, papers and the unmarked grave in the photo. She also uncovers a tragic event that could hold the key to unanswered questions and searches for witnesses who might know more. Maggie's father, Henry Gavin, his wife, Susanne, and her hired companion, Adele Laveau, are at the crux of the secret, but Leslie has trouble piecing together the nuggets of information she obtains. That's because she doesn't have the same advantage the reader has: Adele narrates much of her story from beyond the grave and supplies huge chunks of the puzzle to readers long before Leslie figures things out. But Leslie can be forgiven for her obtuseness: Although several paces behind the reader, she's preoccupied with extraneous complications. Jay hasn't been forthcoming about every aspect of his own life, and haunting memories of her childhood pop up along with her good-for-nothing father. Davis' writing is heartfelt and effective, but she adds too many superfluous characters and "secrets" to the plot.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451418777
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 631,490
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

After spending more than a decade in the jewelry business, Barbara Davis decided to leave the corporate world to pursue her lifelong passion for writing. The Secrets She Carried is her first novel. She currently lives near Raleigh, North Carolina with the love of her life, Tom, and their beloved ginger cat, Simon.  
 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 29, 2013

    I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review

    I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
    The Secrets She Carried is as beautifully-written as the love story between Adele and Henry. In this novel where the plantation becomes a living entity as vital to the plot as any of the other characters, the story alternates between Leslie and Jay’s story and Adele and Henry’s, showing Peak’s past as well its future. Though the Gone with the Wind cliché is inevitable (and unnecessarily mentioned), the setting’s charm makes visualizing the farm and town as easy as sipping a glass of iced tea on the veranda. The characterization is fantastic. Each character’s motivation becomes intensely clear, Leslie’s obsession with finding her history, Jay’s denied desires, Adele’s need for Henry’s love, and Henry’s passion for Peak.
    While the past/present narration is interesting, I was somewhat thrown by the chapter organization in the beginning. There didn’t seem to be a definitive pattern to the way in which the chapters were laid out; however, as the plot progressed, I could see how events in the chapters mirrored each other, creating an interesting contrast and connection between past and present, Adele and Leslie. I question the need for Jay’s POV, though. The theme of female suffering and strength seems diminished somehow by having Jay’s chapters. The story could have been just as powerful and told just as artfully without his point of view. Also, I wanted more of Adele’s story. I found myself disappointed when her chapters ended and Leslie’s began.
    Overall, it is a fantastic story of love, loss, and life’s journey.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Leslie Nichols ran away to New York City years ago but now she¿s

    Leslie Nichols ran away to New York City years ago but now she’s returned to Peak Plantation in North Carolina to discover that she’s been left half of the plantation by her grandmother, Maggie.  She’s not pleased when she discovers a stranger, Jay Davenport, was left the other half.  When they first meet, their conversation flounders into the drastic opposite of warm and fuzzy; it gets even worse when Leslie realizes Jay resents her long absence and resents her arriving to quash the plans he had for beginning a winery on the property. It was Jay who Maggie had confided in for years, even her hope that Leslie would return to where she belonged on the plantation.  Jay is suspicious about why Leslie left but really doesn’t have a clue to the real reasons that haunt her to this day.
    Several surprises surface during this story of these two stubborn, ornery creatures getting to know each other better and even more.  It turns out Jay has his own share of secrets that made him quit using his very popular talent and left him riddled with profound pain.  When Leslie begins to realize this, she begins to cool down and make room for both of them to let go of the past and move forward. But the road will be difficult and fraught with brash and soft words.
    Leslie begins to clean out her grandmother’s home and is struck by some jewels she found and some paintings of her grandfather that have an uncanny resemblance in the main figure that is powerful beyond the obvious sexiness of the works.  There’s also a story to be told about Henry Gavin’s wife and Henry’s lover, a lady’s maid named Adele Laveau.  It goes far beyond the alcoholic and drug addict that Susanne Gavin has become, far beyond the multiple pregnancies she’s lost, and far beyond her inability to make Henry truly love her.  One doesn’t quite know whether to hate or to pity her, probably a huge mixture of both.  But there’s a mystery surrounding the death of Adele and the silence of Susanne, Maggie, Henry and even the folks in town.
    To add to the drama, Leslie’s father, Jimmy, shows up, having finished his prison sentence. But as unwelcome as he is, Jimmy needs Leslie to forgive him and offer him a chance.  
    No one is beyond forgiveness; it surfaces in so many different ways.  As it is so tritely but truthfully said so often, one can run but can’t hide from the past.  This is the story of a journey of healing with intrigue, humor, mystery, secrets, romance and hope.  While it starts out fairly slowly, it quickly picks up and the reader won’t be able to stop reading.  Be prepared for some late nights reading, with some take-out dinners and less sleep than customary.  Barbara Davis has written a poignant, enigmatic, and loving novel that will delight all who relish a great story. Well-crafted and exciting work of contemporary fiction!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Two parallel st

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    Two parallel stories that mingle right from the beginning as the present and the past of this one family mix to create a fantastic story.  Leslie is escaping New York to return to the home that she escaped a long time ago.  She finds it has changed and hasn't changed all at the same time and she must decide whether this can be home again.  

    The characters made this book and the secrets that they were hiding to the end.  With each chapter, I wanted to find out how the mystery would unravel and even how Leslie would react to the truth that was in her past.  I enjoyed that there were also secrets and things to find out in the current story, mystery and intrigue throughout the book!  It made me wish I had a history or family with secrets to find!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    THE SECRETS SHE CARRIED by Barbara Davis is a wonderful Literary

    THE SECRETS SHE CARRIED by Barbara Davis is a wonderful Literary debut Women's Fiction/Historical set in Peak Plantation, North Carolina from 1940 to 2013. Two eras,buried secrets, family secrets, and a love that defies death. Follow Adele Laveau, Henry Gavin, Jay Davenport and Leslie Nichol's journey of love,secrets,a mysterious death,a legacy of redemption, devotion, Adele's heartbreaking life and the secrets she carried. A fast paced story. Which switches from present to the past seemingly and unlocks family secrets that bind four generations of women together. Peak Plantation holds so much more than bad memories,and secrets, it holds four generations of buried secrets. Once a grand tobacco plantation in North Carolina now it is an inheritance that holds bad memories, disgrace and a cryptically marked grace from long ago, which holds more than a few secrets and a body. Written with a bit of mystery, showing the strength of the women of old and the secrets they often carried. It is a powerful, emotional story that shows the strength and character of generations of Southern women. As you will learn in "The Secrets She Carried" the past never stays buried. From a fictional town in North Carolina, this could be anyone's story,Peak Plantation seemed real enough to me and her characters are engaging, and intriguing. Well done, Ms. Davis! For a debut author, Ms. Davis has written a powerful story that bares reading and I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Southern history, contemporary fiction, and a romance that endures through time itself. Received for an honest review from the publisher.

    RATING: 4.5

    HEAT RATING: MILD

    REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    A real page turner!

    This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It constantly kept me wanting to know more filled with secrets from beginning to end!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2014

    Could have been a good book, but............

    This first novel by Barbara Davis was a potentially very good read. I was enjoying it a lot, until I realized everybody in the book had stomach/belly problems!!

    Every 3 to 4 pages some character or another had a stomach that "roiled or ached or turned over or rumbled" OR a belly with similar problems. It got so I lost the story waiting for the stomach/belly mentions!

    Someone ought to have edited this book before publication and cut 98% of those mentions. As I got to the very end of the book, I thought I was home free, but no, one more stomach problem.

    This was a distraction to me. Having said all this - the book could have and should have been better if someone had only done their job.

    I would give this author another read at some point - AFTER flipping through the pages to check out if the characters had stomach or other health problems!! This could have been a solid 3 star book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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