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My Secret to Tell

My Secret to Tell

4.3 9
by Natalie Richards

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His smile is a crime.

Emerson May is "the good girl." She's the perfect daughter, the caring friend, the animal shelter volunteer. But when her best friend's brother breaks into her room, his hands covered in blood, she doesn't scream or call the cops. Because when Deacon smiles at her, Emmie doesn't want to be good...

The whole town believes notorious


His smile is a crime.

Emerson May is "the good girl." She's the perfect daughter, the caring friend, the animal shelter volunteer. But when her best friend's brother breaks into her room, his hands covered in blood, she doesn't scream or call the cops. Because when Deacon smiles at her, Emmie doesn't want to be good...

The whole town believes notorious troublemaker Deacon is guilty of assaulting his father. Only Emmie knows a secret that could set him free. But if she follows her heart, she could be trusting a killer...

You can't always trust the boy next door.

Praise for Six Months Later:
"Well paced and beautifully written...This romantic thriller will leave readers on the edge of their seats."-School Library Journal
"A smart, edgy thriller."-Kirkus Reviews
"An intense psychological mystery... has the feel of a high-stakes poker game in which every player has something to hide."-Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Emmie has been in love with her friend Chelsea’s gorgeous brother, Deacon, for years. Deacon has problems, however, including a paralyzing fear of blood. When Deacon’s father turns up nearly dead, Emmie finds Deacon covered in his blood. She wants to help Deacon, but nearly everyone in town thinks he is responsible for sending his father to the hospital. Secrets abound: Emmie is covering for Deacon, Chelsea is behaving strangely, and Deacon is definitely holding back the whole story, even from Emmie, his biggest ally. In an effort to create suspense, Richards (Gone Too Far) packs her novel full of red herrings (including the local thugs Emmie has scary run-ins with) to sometimes confusing effect. With so many characters acting suspiciously and dialogue that conceals more than it reveals, readers may end up feeling frustrated and lost. As a character, Deacon remains largely ephemeral, and Emmie’s frequent reminders that she has loved him for ages aren’t quite enough to help make sense of why she defends him so staunchly. Ages 14–up. Agent: Cori Deyoe, 3 Seas Literary Agency. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"My Secret to Tell is as addictive as it is unpredictable. Natalie will keep you second guessing until the nail-biting end." - Natasha Preston

"Teen readers will find plenty of fun and plenty to relate to in this coming-of-age romance with an adrenaline rush." - Kirkus

"[R]eaders who enjoy heavy doses of psychological and romantic tension will not be disappointed" - VOYA

"If you like a good suspenseful story with great characters and a dash of darkness, you'll really enjoy this new book. I'm so glad I waited to read it." - The Book Nut

"My Secret to Tell is a clever whodunit with a fabulous cast of characters and an alluring romance that will appeal to teens. The mystery element is interesting and full of unexpected twists and turns. The motive for the crime remains elusive and Natalie B. Richards skillfully utilizes numerous red herrings to keep readers guessing the perpetrator's identity right up until the novel's rather dramatic and pulse pounding conclusion." - Book Reviews and More by Kathy

VOYA, October 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 4) - Bethany Martin
Emerson May works hard to be the daughter her parents expect her to be. Ever since her brother ran off, Emmie does whatever it takes to keep her mother, in particular, happy—even if it means changing her career plans from marine biologist to lawyer and downplaying her feelings for her best friend, Chelsea’s, troubled brother, Deacon. But when Deacon is suspected of assaulting his father, Emmie ignores the warnings of her parents, the sheriff, and just about everyone else in town to help prove Deacon’s innocence. As she investigates, she uncovers secrets, learns that not everyone is who they seem to be, and realizes that some people should not be trusted. Richards has crafted an intriguing thriller with plenty of (tame) romance. As a character, Emmie is a bit unevenly drawn. Her sometimes willful blindness toward the whole truth in particular situations, such as why her brother left or Chelsea and Deacon’s father’s drug abuse, rings true, as do her reactions when the full truth is revealed. Richards spends a great deal of time developing Emmie as a character with compulsions regarding cleaning and organizing, hinting that she may have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; however, this is never fully developed and Emmie’s constant desire to create order is treated as a quirk that she could simply stop doing and that occasionally annoys other characters. Still, readers who enjoy heavy doses of psychological and romantic tension will not be disappointed. Reviewer: Bethany Martin; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Set during a lurid South Carolina summer, this mystery opens as picture-perfect Emmie receives a frantic call from her best friend, Chelsea. Chel's father has been brutally assaulted in their home, and it appears that her brother, along with resident bad boy Deacon, is the culprit. While everyone in town is busy pointing fingers at Deacon, Emmie must decide for herself whether she should trust and defend the boy she's loved from afar or if she should do what everyone expects of a good girl and give him up to the authorities. This romantic whodunit might be best for early teen and reluctant readers with its swift pace, accessible plotlines, and somewhat predictable twists. In addition, reluctant readers will enjoy piecing the clues together to solve the mystery. For the sensitive reader, it is worth mentioning that there are references to death and drug addiction throughout. Richards does a beautiful job painting scenes of Southern life in a boating town and incorporating some diverse characters. However, she also makes some confusing leaps in the plot, leaving out critical details. For instance, in the first part of the novel, there is no mention of any character asking the beaten man to identify his assailant; rather, the townsfolk make their own assumptions and go on a witch hunt from there. The result is that the premise feels a bit flimsy and the characters' decisions are overly dramatic and premature. VERDICT Despite some flaws, this is a good choice for younger teens who want a bit of PG romance and a modern Nancy Drew-esque mystery.—Leighanne Law, Scriber Lake High School, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Emmie likes to take care of things, and she's good at it, but when her best friend's father is brutally beaten, and Deacon, Chelsea's brother and Emmie's secret crush, shows up at her window that night covered in blood, she faces her greatest challenge yet. The pressure Emmie feels to make things right has escalated since her older brother dropped out of college, shattering her mother's dreams. Taking the side of an apparent criminal threatens everything. Set on the shores of Beaufort, South Carolina, the fast-paced narrative is tailored to readers looking for quick, escapist entertainment. Despite careful setup, the real nuggets of the whodunit plotline suffer from a slow reveal, and Emmie's relationships, especially her friendship with Chelsea, are underdeveloped. Still, the main event, Emmie and Deacon's smoldering, good girl-bad boy chemistry, is so hot readers are likely to be forgiving. The novel is at its best when these two are on the run, not only because of the high-stakes action, but also because it forces Emmie to overcome her borderline-compulsive need for order and to throw caution to the wind. Readers will cheer as her passion outweighs her need to maintain the stifling good-girl front she's kept up for too long. Teen readers will find plenty of fun and plenty to relate to in this coming-of-age romance with an adrenaline rush. (Thriller. 12-16)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt



My name lands somewhere between a hiccup and a sob, and my feet stall out on the sidewalk in front of my house. I adjust my grip on the phone, hoping I misheard her tone. This doesn't sound like Chelsea. This voice is breathless. Frightened.

"I'm here," I say. "What's up? You don't sound right."

"I'm not." She takes a shuddery breath.

My shirt's sticking to my back and cicadas are click-buzzing the end of another blistering day, but I go cold. Something's wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

"It's my dad, Emmie," she says. I can tell she's crying.

I grab my chest. It's too tight. Burning. "What happened?"

Her words all tumble out on top of one another, interrupted by shaky breaths. I try to pick out pieces that make sense. "He's hurt-bleeding-we're behind the ambulance and I can't-he's not-someone attacked him."

I start climbing the porch steps, because she'll need me. I'm her best friend, so I should be there. I need to change clothes and go. "You're on the way to the hospital, right? They'll help him there."

Another sharp breath. "I don't know if they can. He's so bad. So bad."

My heart clenches. "Where are you?"

"We're almost there. Joel's with me."

"Okay, good. I'm coming," I say, crossing my porch and hauling my front door open. "Let me just call Mom. I'll borrow the car."

Chelsea's still crying when I storm down the hallway toward my bedroom. "Emmie, I can't find Deacon..."

"Your brother never answers his phone," I say, pushing open my door. "I'll run by the docks first and-"

"No. No, he was there. He was at the house."

Chelsea makes a strangled sound, and I notice the liquid-thick heat in my bedroom. The kind of heat that tells me the air conditioner is broken. Or my window is open.

My gaze drags to my fluttering white curtains, to the dark smudge on the windowsill.

Chelsea's voice goes low and raspy. "He ran, Emmie. God, he was there with Dad. He was in the house, but he ran."

I swivel with an invisible fist lodged in my throat. My bathroom door is open, a red-black smudge beneath the knob.

My mouth goes dry, my pulse thumping slower than it should. Then I see the blood on the floor by my sink, and my heart tumbles end over end.

"We're here. I'll call soon," Chelsea says and hangs up.

I see him, his back to my tub and his dark head bowed on one bent knee. Oh God.

He's covered in blood. It's on his legs, his hands. Dripping onto my white tile floor. He looks up, and my heart goes strangely steady.

I take a breath that tastes like purpose.


Meet the Author

After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti. This is her second novel. Visit her on Twitter @natdrichards or at nataliedrichards.com.

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My Secret to Tell 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Bdanelle More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WhatsBeyondForks More than 1 year ago
My Secret to Tell by Natalie D. Richards is a mystery romance that kept me guessing. I had my suspicions about a person or two, but I still wasn't 100% sure who was bad until it was revealed. There were twists and changes that kept me guessing all along the way making it a hard book to put down and a fast read. The chemistry between Emmie and Deacon made the time fly that much faster. Although, I kind of wanted to know what made him finally "see" her. She's had this huge crush on him for a long time, and he was the town player. I thought he was attracted to her before the whole issue with his dad happened, but then later, they made it sound like it was a new development after he ran to her house covered in blood. Soo.. I wasn't sure. Either way, I wanted to know what changed his mind about her.With all that being said, I enjoyed these characters quite a bit. They were raw, especially Deacon with his anger issues. You could feel the anger, hurt, betrayal, and confusion from him. I was impressed with this author's writing, and I'd definitely like to read more from her. The ARC of My Secret to Tell by Natalie D. Richards was kindly provided to me by the publisher for review. The opinions are my own.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
“My Secret to Tell” is a combination of mystery and “bad boy” romance which is blissfully free of love triangles. The characters of Emmie and Deacon were a lot of fun to read. Their banter felt natural and not at all forced. They also did not suffer from instalove, and I appreciate that fact quite a bit. Emmie faces many of the problems that most young adults face, including parental expectations versus personal wants. Deacon has quite a few problems, but many of the problems have a good cause. What I particularly liked was that none of the problems, good reason or not, are actually excused as appropriate behavior. That includes from Emmie. How often does unblinded love happen in a young adult romance? Not enough. The plot was fun, though I did figure out a good bit of the twist before it was revealed at the end. That’s the reason I gave it four stars instead of five. It’s a quick read. While not completely light, it also isn’t too heavy, so it’s a nice book to take on a vacation or read during downtime. I’d also like to mention that the descriptions of the North Carolina coast are beautiful and completely accurate. If you have a love of the area, you will enjoy it for that alone. I recommend “My Secret to Tell” for young adults and adults alike who are looking for an enjoyable read. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Splashesintobooks1 More than 1 year ago
Drop everything - read this superb psychological mystery/thriller! This is a riveting page turner, a psychological mystery thriller with teen sleuths that keeps the reader enthralled and guessing. Emerson May is a fixer, she's OCD about keeping things ordered and clean but she's also had a crush on her best friend's brother, local heartthrob and 'bad' boy, Deacon, for years. When Deacon and Chelsea's father is found badly beaten up, Deacon is with him and runs. He runs Emerson (Emmie) who helps clean him up and also helps him escape. After that, nothing is quite what or who they seem! As Emmie tries to keep Deke safe, they find themselves in an ever deepening quagmire of danger, deceit and double dealing. Little did they know they'd be putting their own lives on the line as they endeavour to discover who beat up and nearly killed his father - and why. I really enjoyed this fast paced yet complex mystery. It was told from the point of view of Emmie and she was very easy to relate to. As she discovers more about her own dysfunctional family and is unsure who it is safe to trust this psychological thriller keeps you guessing and enthralled to the very end. I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who enjoys this genre - and wish to thank the publishers for inviting me to read an ARC of this superb story in exchange for this, my honest review. I'll certainly be looking out for more books by this highly skilled author in future!
DownrightDystopian More than 1 year ago
**Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!** After reading Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards last year, I knew that I would read absolutely anything else that she wrote. That's why I ultimately decided to give My Secret to Tell a read. My Secret to Tell follows a teenager named Emerson whose best friend's father was just brutally hurt. Everyone keeps pinning the near-murder on her best friend Chelsea's brother, Deacon. However, she knows very well that it was not Deacon because he's completely scared of blood and has been ever since he was a child. In addition, she always helps Deacon clean up his blood when he's injured. As a matter of fact, she cleans blood off of him right after his father gets hurt. Throughout the story, Emmie works to try to prove Deacon's innocence. Sadly, this story fell short for me because I kind of fleshed out who caused the incident very soon after the story began. I'm finding that it's hard for me to enjoy mysteries because a lot of the time I can figure out who it is and I don't much like that. My suspicions were only questioned once towards the very end of the story, though the next page just rose them again because it finally admitted who did it all. Despite that, I really loved the characters. Emmie was very sweet and I loved how hard she worked to prove Deacon's innocence. I felt horrible for Deacon often because everyone was just throwing him under the bus without question. It was obvious that he wasn't the kind of person to do such bad things. However, My Secret to Tell was still a pretty enjoyable read and I'd still pick up anything else that Natalie writes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! From start to finish it had me hooked. Emerson is such a well rounded character which you do not see alot and Deacon just made my heart flutter. The plot is genius and kept me guessing till the very end which was great. If you are questioning this book; BUY IT!
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars! This one read quite differently for a YA to me. Yes, it had the teenage girl whining does he like, do I like him. But the story seemed to be for a little bit older group than YA, although I'm sure they would enjoy it. At the beginning, I almost gave up on the book because I was a little (okay a lot) sick of hearing Emmie complain about Derrick and where was he, blah, blah, blah. Thankfully, we got away from that and the action started. I think the book could have been shortened and that part left out and it would have been a much better book. Although I was entertained and did enjoy it once it started picking up. There was another time when the action got going towards the end and then all of a sudden it slowed down and they were not in danger and had time to mug down or whatever. I mean my heart beat was rising and I was really getting into it and then BAM, nothing. I felt I need a cold shower before I could finish the book. My senses were so ready for some action and to see what in the heck was going on here. It was a good read, just a few little technicalities for me. Thanks Sourcebooks and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well was Deacon a killer? If anyone can . Can u plz give me a summary of the whole book since i couldn't buy it? Plzzz pretty plz??????:D