Title: Secrets and Charms
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 191 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Out and proud from a tender age, Olly Blackwood is content with life in LA, working at a Hollywood gourmet grocery. There’s only one thing missing: romance. He’s had his fill of casual hook-ups. He wants a man for keeps, and he wants sparks.
He certainly gets them when he meets Rich Willson, who has the stormy temper to go with his fiery hair. But is he keeper material? He might be if only he’d come out of the closet.
After losing his disapproving father, his job, his girlfriend, and pretty much all his money, Rich packed up his secrets and moved to his actress sister s house to regroup and help her renovate. He doesn’t like the curmudgeon he s become, but something about the perpetually cheerful Olly rubs him in a way that should be wrong, yet feels pretty damned right.
Over paint buckets and sanding tools, Rich finds Olly getting deeper under his skin. But when an altercation with a paparazzo comes back to haunt him, he finds that sordid Hollywood secrets can be murder maybe his own.
Review: I must begin by saying I really liked the first book in this series, Secrets and Ink. When Olly was introduced in that first novel, I was hoping author Lou Harper would pick up on his story and was delighted to see that this was the case with the new release, Secrets and Charms.
Once again we are plopped down in the middle of Hollywood, where secrets and scandal hold hands. Olly is a sharp young man, working at a posh grocer that caters to the upper elite. He is happy and well adjusted despite being the offspring of two hippie parents and lacking in only one thing—love. He is looking for that “spark”—that indefinable moment when he knows the person he is with is actually “the one”. Call him idealistic but do not be surprised that this rather pragmatic twenty something is no nonsense when it comes to finding Mr. Right.
Rich WIllson has come to live with his “starlet” sister, Sandy, in hopes of escaping a failed relationship and a damaging end to a job he is not sure he ever wanted but was chained to through familial legacy and guilt. Tied up in knots, emotionally, Rich is supremely aware that his bigoted and selfish father gave him not much more than a scandalous debt he secretly repaid, a bruised heart seeking his Dad’s approval, but never getting it, and a closet so deep he is not sure how to find the door. And Rich seems to keep a tentative death grip on it all until Olly comes into his life and wrenches the door wide open.
Secrets and Charms is a love story wrapped in the arms of a mystery, and a delightful read overall! When Olly and Rich discover that Sandy is being blackmailed, they set out to find the source. That pursuit will carry them into dangerous territory and nearly land both of them in the morgue before it all comes to light. In the meanwhile, Rick is fighting his attraction to Olly who, in turn, is pursuing Rick with the sure knowledge that this guy is one that could be a real keeper. The sharp homophobic jabs Rich hears himself uttering only clinch Olly’s belief that Rich is so conflicted due to his upbringing that he must be helped, if only to be able to acknowledge who he really is and face the fact that he is gay.
This was a smartly written novel with numerous little plot twists and hot, intimate connections between Olly and Rich that were simply blissful. Lou Harper’s knack for drawing humor out of the most serious of scenarios serves this story well and keeps it moving along. The mystery is tight, the sex, hot and the relationships well crafted and believable. Secrets and Charms is a worthy addition to the Secrets series!
You can buy Secrets and Charms here: