Review: The Secret by Ashley John

When 32 year old married author George Lewis sees 19 year old Harvey Jasper reading one of his books in the local bookstore, he can't help but be drawn to him. After giving Harvey his cellphone number, he soon receives a call from Harvey asking if he can intern under George. Reluctantly, George says yes, and agrees to let Harvey into his home for a whole month.

As they spend more and more time together, Harvey shares his heart-breaking story with George and his eyes are opened up to a whole new world with whole new emotions. George soon discovers something he never thought he'd find in another

The Secret is the first in the George & Harvey series.

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.

This review contains spoilers.

It is obvious from my rating that this book did not really work for me. Others have rated 5 stars, so for some it is doing the trick. I will try and explain in this review why this wasn't the case for me.

The pros:

Number one - that cover, I like it! I also like how the series is uniform in look.

The second positive note, I did enjoy the opening scene. As George is in the book shop and first meets Harvey, hapless author meets downtrodden super-fan, it showed potential. We saw George's feelings as he roamed the aisles, we saw the distance that was there between him and his wife - both actual and metaphorical. His internal musings were insightful, I thought it was a promising start. Sadly, for me, it went downhill from there.

The cons:

The first thing I found that made this hard to read was the constant head hopping. And I mean constant. In every scene with George and Harvey it flits between the twos' thoughts continuously. Even in third person writing each part can only be told from the perspective of one of the characters. Okay, we can observe what the other character is doing, but we can't know what he's thinking otherwise the poor reader gets really dizzy trying to keep up. If an editor, or 'book doctor', had taken a look at this MS, it would have stopped some of these rookie mistakes being made.

The next of which is the telling. Too much telling and the reader won't care about the characters at all, I want to feel what they're feeling, not be told it. Show don't tell is writing 101. Show me Harvey falling in love - his heart beating faster when he catches a glimpse of George, the electricity shooting up his arm when they accidentally touch etc, etc. Just telling me he is falling in love is not going to make me believe it. Show me George's confusion - he's a married 31 year old who ends up having an affair with his 19 year old intern, and yet I don't see one bit of confusion or guilt in him.

I suppose this was the third thing I found hard to reconcile as a reader, I just didn't believe the story, it was all so...convenient. Downtrodden super-fan meets his fave author in the local bookshop (yet didn't know who he was) then rings him and becomes his intern. Married author's wife goes away to care for her dying mom (why didn't George go with her, he can write from anywhere?) and that night author realises intern is living in poverty with a drunk brother so moves him into his house. This boy is still in high school, he's supposed to be learning the ins and outs of being a writer but ends up gardening, watching DVD's and bathing at the authors house. And I cringed when George watched him in the bath, however briefly it was.

We hear very little about his wife for the remainder of the story, certainly no contact between her and George while he starts his affair. It is only at the end of the book, when Harvey's drunk brother comes round and threatens them at knife point, do we find out George has no plans to leave her yet, but poor old Harvey thought he did. This book was crammed full of convenient plot twists.

There were also some grammatical errors and - my own personal pet peeve, that probably bothers nobody else anywhere, ever - spellings/words that do not fit in with the area the book is set. The author is English and we do have flats and the colour grey here , but in the US, where the book is set, they have apartments and gray. (There were other differences, I'm not listing them all!) A small thing, but a personal annoyance of mine that drags me from the story without fail.

I told myself I wouldn't write a bitchy review - I don't like bitchy reviews and I appreciate the time and effort the author has put into writing this. I appreciate the guts it takes to self publish and then contact people to ask for an honest review (trust me, I really, really do) - but I really feel that this author needs some good writing advice from an expert. There are plenty out there to choose from and their advice is really invaluable.

Despite this review I actually believe this author has potential, he just needs to seek professional writing advice. Of course this is only my personal opinion and I truly wish him all the best luck with future endeavours.

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