by L. Marie Adeline


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385346436
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Series: S.E.C.R.E.T. Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 656,195
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

L. MARIE ADELINE is a pseudonym for the bestselling author Lisa Gabriele. She writes and produces for television and radio, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Salon, and Glamour. Visit her at www.secretnovels.com.

Reading Group Guide

1. What compelled you to read this book?

2. How does the book fit in with modern popular erotica? Have you read other books with a similarly sexual theme? How does this one compare?

3. Did you enjoy the writing? What constitutes good writing in this genre? Do you hold it to the same standards as other novels or popular fiction?

4. How do you imagine the spark between Will and Cassie first occurred? Why is she so reluctant to date him during the years of their friendship? Do you think they would make a good couple?

5. What qualities do the members of S.E.C.R.E.T. see in Cassie that make her an appealing candidate? Do you agree with their assessment? Why do you think they are so sure of her acceptance of their offer?

6. How have Cassie’s experiences with her father and husband shaped her view of men and relationships? Does her opinion of men change during the course of the book?

7. During her ski trip, Cassie reflects on the sacrifices she made for Scott and the ways in which she gave up—or never explored—her own passions in order to please him. Has she begun to more fully explore her own interests through her year with S.E.C.R.E.T.? What is she discovering about herself, and what (if anything) do you think she still needs to discover?

8. Do you think the “steps” in the S.E.C.R.E.T. process are intended to improve a woman’s overall life, or is the focus strictly sexual? How does Cassie’s experience with sexual liberation change her outlook on her day-to-day life?

9. Do you think that organizations like S.E.C.R.E.T. exist in the real world? Would you be surprised to learn of such a group in your town?

10. Cassie begins to recognize the “strange reciprocity” of her S.E.C.R.E.T. encounters. Do you think there is more to the male side of the story of S.E.C.R.E.T.? How do you imagine the recruitment of the men works? What do you think each of the men hopes to gain? Why would each of them have agreed to the arrangement?

11. Who do you imagine the hip-hop star to be?

12. Matilda described the S.E.C.R.E.T. men as “not the greatest life partners.” Do you think this quality makes them better candidates for the S.E.C.R.E.T. program?

13. Near the end of her year with S.E.C.R.E.T., Matilda asks Cassie to name her favorite partners. Were you surprised by Cassie’s choices? Was there one encounter (or partner) that seemed most interesting or erotic to you? Who would have made your shortlist?

14. On the night of the revue, why do you think Cassie let Jesse go? Do you think she will regret her decision? Would you have made the same choice?

15. At the end of the book, does Tracina know that Cassie and Will spent the night together? Do you think Will actually proposed to Tracina afterward? What do you think will happen to Will and Tracina next?


1. What made you decide to write erotic fiction?

Quite truthfully, a week before I started writing S.E.C.R.E.T., I hadn't thought of writing erotic fiction. In fact, I'd never thought of writing erotic fiction. Writing sex is difficult for a lot of novelists, including me. Sex is so subjective, after all. And the few times I'd tried left me feeling queasy and vulnerable. But E.L. James did something rather remarkable. She showed writers that there was an incredible appetite for erotica, and I felt it was time to write a book people wanted to read as opposed to writing a book I wanted to write and hoped that others would read. Luckily, I found writing S.E.C.R.E.T. creatively satisfying; I couldn't have completed it otherwise.

2. How did the Fifty Shades series influence your writing?

Fifty Shades was like a Zamboni that smoothed over the pocked ice so I could skate behind it rather safely. I owe her a debt of gratitude. And she also did something extraordinary, which was to commit to a love story amidst all the panting and sweating. That definitely influenced my approach as well. But the book that had the biggest influence on me was Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman. Her chapter about sex in pop culture was utterly brilliant and so true—especially how it can often be so devoid of human desire. I made sure that desire underpinned every single one of my sex scenes.

3. Where did you get the idea for the concept of S.E.C.R.E.T.?

It's one of those things that came to me in an instant. I know it sounds insane, but it's true. I was talking to my editor about the Fifty Shades phenomenon, and she said that if I could come up with a concept and write it, she'd take a look at it. If it was good, she said, there was a chance they'd publish it, as the appetite for new erotic titles was so strong. How could I resist the challenge? I was, at the time, trying to finish a collaboration on a financial guide, which was vexing the hell out of me. Then Cassie showed up. So in a way, this book was born on a dare.

4. Is the secret society within the novel based on a real group? Do you think this might inspire a few people to start one?

Again, this is something my editor and I darkly joked about—that people might be inspired to start their own S.E.C.R.E.T. societies. I don't know what to say about that except that the “S” stands for Safe. I've always been a fan of the step-by-step approach to fixing, changing or recovering from anything. I know people who've been helped by groups that consist of people who've gone through what they're going through, whether it's quitting smoking, over-eating, grieving, or drinking too much. When creating S.E.C.R.E.T., I imagined a group that could help a woman like Cassie, who is sexually deadened, come alive to herself again. So many women of a certain age feel that way, and I started from the point of change that Cassie arrives at and went from there.

5. Why did you choose to write this novel under a pseudonym? How did you choose the pseudonym?

My original intention was to stay anonymous, not out of any notion of shame, but to let the reader develop a relationship with the book rather than the writer. Because with a book like this, which I hope people find immersive, the less the reader is thinking about the writer, the better. But then it grew and grew and became harder and harder to maintain the secret. Also, I'm a very private person. I had decided to write under a pseudonym to give myself permission to write about sex without thinking about the ramifications, or what my poor old (Catholic) dad would think. My previous novels are nothing like S.E.C.R.E.T. I hoped a pseudonym would help delineate the differences between the kinds of things I write—which include literary fiction, business books and now erotica. Adeline is actually my maternal grandmother's maiden name. She was born in 1899 and was quite prudish about sex. When I asked my sister if it would be mean or weird to use her name on an erotic novel, she said, “No. It'd be funny.” So that's what I did.

6. We'd all like to be introduced to the true-life Jesse. Are any of these men based on people you have known?

I've dated a couple of Jesses—guys covered in tattoos who push their fingers through their dirty hair, and can rock a tank top (even though that's just not a great look for most men, to be honest). Jesse is quite literally based on the character Jesse from the TV show Breaking Bad. (I hope the creators don't mind a little fan fiction from me.) I adore Jesse on that show. My friends and I talk about him, think about him, worry about him, hope he turns out okay. But wow, he'd be a crappy boyfriend. The rest of the men in S.E.C.R.E.T. are mostly of a type that I think most women will find attractive (sexually at least)—six-pack abs, wavy, thick hair, tanned, tall, and so on. I hope I'm right.

7. What can we expect next in the series?

More sex of course, but what I'm looking forward to exploring is the inner workings of S.E.C.R.E.T. and what Cassie's role will be in the group. We'll see how all those fabulous men are recruited, and, of course, how Cassie's relationship with Will (and Tracina) evolves. There'll be some twists and turns, and there will be another woman going through the Steps, someone Cassie helps to guide. It will be sexy, empowering—and fun!

Customer Reviews

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S.E.C.R.E.T. 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 104 reviews.
LucyReads More than 1 year ago
I'm on the fence...After a tremendous build up in my mind for this novel, I have mixed emotions since finishing the book.  Cassie is the young widow of an alcoholic who has lost her sense of self - in all aspects.  A series of encounters with the kind of women who Cassie emulates results in her accepting an invitation to join a secret society dedicated to the liberation of women - showing them that they truly hold power and control within themselves.  The writing of the book was very good but I would not in any way call this an erotic novel.  I found the sex scenes to be ridiculously tame and boring.  It was not the main focus of the book but the psychological thought process and growth that Cassie experiences was well defined -  I enjoyed taking that journey with her.  I did not find the book to be a romance novel. The male relationships Cassie has as she grows are shallow and serve only to facilitate her personal growth.  The ending was a surprise - she finds what she needs, yet it was not what you would expect.  I will probably read the next in the series before making a final judgment just because I love the mental growth component.  If you are looking for steamy sweaty sex or hot romance, pass on this one.  It is a novel about a woman finding her inner strength and the courage to live her life on her terms.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this novel. It's sexy, fun and i found it very empowering. The writing is better than most in this space but more than that i kept reading it to see what would happen to her once she agrees to participate. It's not hardcore erotica by any means but it is sexy and Cassie is a really great heroine. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I am not over thinking it but just enjoyed it for what it was. I do hope there will be a sequel because I would like to know how things play out for Cassie.
LadyGodiva1 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I hated the ending. Cassie came so far and then to be let down at the end was so sad. Hopefully there will be a sequel and we'll get to see how her life turns out.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hated the end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I' m not sure how I would classify this book but definitely not erotica. The sex scenes barely kept me awake as the writing was just plain boring! Even though the main character is supposed to be on a journey of sexual awakening at the end of the book she still can't refer to her body parts by their proper monikers or even slang terms; she calls it " down there". I can't say this book is a romance either as there is no romance anywhere in the 270 pgs I read. If you are looking for erotica keep looking. If you are looking for romance keep looking. Bottom line? It's not worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was left feeling really let down by the build up. Was the premise of the plot good? absolutely. Did it deliver the sizzle? not really. "10 rapturous fantasies" were pretty tame in descprition, and the author could have gone soooooo much further with the content. Being only 185 pages made Cassie's journey feel so rushed, and I felt that many details were missed. Was it well written? I suppose so, yes - but just as I was getting on board with Cassie's growth and self-discovery, the chapter ended! Erotica? didn't measure up to most - was way too tame. The ending was an abrupt halt that left me shaking my head saying - "that's it?" really disappointed that I paid $9.99 for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You HAVE to read this book. I couldn't stop reading it. All I can say is OMG!!
Elinore_Sigilo More than 1 year ago
Great Read!!! The end caught me by surprise, but I was actually really happy with the way it ended! This is a very empowering book, even from a reader in her early 20s. I only wish the book had been a big longer!
AmyJoTorres More than 1 year ago
A short story that leaves you wondering what will happen next. I loved the fast and sexy read. 
Buzz67 More than 1 year ago
Very well written, quick read that makes you wonder how you could get in touch with this organization. I believe it will make a wonderful series as im sure we haven't seen the last of Cassie and the great city of NOLA. Backdrop for this tale was perfectly placed as there is no where that is sexier, more sultry, or where you could imagine this magical journey taking place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was very empowering!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can not wait for the next book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book until the end! I was soooooo disappointed how it ended.......and to think I paid $9.99 to have my heart broken! Not worth it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am appalled that this book cost $9.99 and only has 191 pages! I've read books that cost .99 cents that had 500 pages.. never again, rip off!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, but a little short. The story of Cassie's psychological growth was good, and who doesn'r want to get their mojo back? As for erotica - this book is so tame. It's good chick lit, but it's the erotic equivalent of a cheese sandwich on white bread.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I read from this author and I am happy to say it won't be the last. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the other books of this series. A+++++
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
I was really hoping for a little more from this one. The overall concept of the story was great. Cassie has fallen into a horrible rut. After her alcoholic husband died, she kind of sank into herself and hasn't come up for air (or sex). Five years later and she's still stuck. She stumbles upon an organization that helps women in her sort of position open themselves back up again. The regain their confidence, their passion, and awaken their sexual desires. Cassie has doubts at several stages along the way - who wouldn't - but chugs along through the 10 step program. This reminded me a bit of what AA is describes as.  The downfall is that it didn't seem like enough really happened. A whole year goes by in the story, but I felt like her SECRET encounters were the only thing she had in her life - and the whole point of the group is for the opposite to happen. The encounters were fun and quite exciting - and they did teach her valuable lessons about opening herself up to new possibilities. I just wish more "real" life had happened in between them for her to explore as well.  I will admit that I was hoping for just a smidge of romance to pop out of the story somewhere - even if it wasn't a prevalent topic. But I was sorely disappointed. There really isn't a happy ending for Cassie and her personal life. She does complete the program, but I'm not sure how much better her life really is now. There is a sequel and since it's already on my shelf I'll give it a go to see if the series turns into anything better. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unusual and perhaps a gal's book, but there is enough for guys to enjoy the plot and certainly it reads easily to bring out hundreds of smiles along the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was SO NOT worth the $10 I paid for it. Only 192 pages. I've read better free books.