Seven for a Secret

Rumer Haven
Seven for a Secret
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Omnific Publishing
Release Date
August 2014
Historical fiction, Historical Novel with Romantic Elements, Literary Romance, Paranormal with Romantic Elements, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

It's the year 2000, and twenty-four-year-old Kate moves into a new apartment to find a new state of independence in a new millennium. Almost immediately, she starts crushing on a hot guy who lives in her building. Deciding to take a break from her boyfriend Dexter, Kate believes the only thing now separating her from the fresh object of her sexual fantasies is the thin wall between their neighboring apartments.

A former 1920s hotel, Camden Court has housed many lonely lives over the decades—and is where a number of them have come to die. They're not all resting in peace, however, including ninety-year-old Olive, who dropped dead in Kate's apartment and continues to make her presence known.

For Olive has a secret she's dying to tell. One linking her to the sex, scandal, and sacrifice of a young dreamer named Lon. As the past haunts the present, Kate's romantic notion that the thrill-of-the-chase beats the reality-after-the-catch unexpectedly entwines her modern-day love life with Lon's Jazz Age tragedy.

With a little supernatural and a lotta' razzle-dazzle, Seven for a Secret is where historical fiction meets contemporary rom-com—from the Roaring Twenties when the "New Woman" was born, to the modern Noughties when she really came of age.

Book Review by Victoria Lane (reviewer)
Feb 07, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
91 people found the following review helpful
Pull out the gin because you may need it to get through this novel emotionally unscathed. SEVEN FOR A SECRET by Rumer Haven tells two tales of love lost and found, and not necessarily in that order. One tale ends in tragedy and the other in a happy for now ending. I give it 4 stars, but with reservations given the mischaracterization of the novel.

In the novel, museum educator Kate has just moved out of her boyfriend's condo--citing the need for some time and space in their relationship--and into a haunted hotel-turned-apartment building. What she finds there is a mystery from the mid 1920's that helps distract her from her own relationship issues, and a group of odd geriatric neighbors who keep a lot of secrets. As the secrets are revealed and the mystery unraveled, Kate goes through issues in her dating life that seem a bit similar to those in the 1920's storyline. The novel is a Romeo & Juliet type ill-timed love story where lies and betrayals hinder the true happiness of the characters. While Kate and her man seem to make it in the end, that resolution doesn't come without tears.

Overall, I did not enjoy the novel. I give it 4 stars because the writing itself was great, but too intricate to be considered part of the romance genre. The descriptions and dialogue contain flourishes and weighty nuance. In my opinion, SEVEN FOR A SECRET should have been categorized as literary fiction. This isn't a light novel you take to the beach with you. While the ending contains a happy for now resolution of Kate and Dexter's relationship, the book doesn't really feel like a romance novel at all. An example for comparison or further elaboration: there was love and relationships in The Great Gatsby, but I doubt anyone would call that a romance novel. So, that being said, the main reason I did not enjoy the novel is merely that I was not looking for a challenging read. I often had to read sentences twice to get the full meaning, which is reminiscent of high school English class assignments of Plato and Hawthorne.

Literary fiction has a greater depth of realism than the typical romance novel, and here there was enough tragedy to give Shakespeare some competition. At times, it was really depressing. Other times, it felt slow; I kept waiting for it to get to the good and happy parts. Yes, there are some humorous bits that provide levity. I love the John Hughes references, and especially loved Kate's friend's mantra "Jake Ryan is a carpenter in real life." Those bits are few and far between, though.

I would also not call this a paranormal romance, historical romance or romantic comedy. While there are some ghostly dwellers in the apartment building that provided some creepy and bizarre moments, I felt that those moments added to the mystery of the novel rather than making it a paranormal one. The ghostliness isn't as central to the plot as in the Paranormal Activity movies.

As for the sexual scenes, while those in the novel are not gratuitous, they are still graphic enough to make this novel appropriate for mature audiences.

So overall, the novel is well-written and poses a nice mystery that is solved, which is why I can give it 4 stars, but it was miscategorized and too heavy and tragic for me. Thus, I can easily recommend it to those who like literary fiction and some serious mystery, but if you are looking for a light read and a happy ending, this is not the novel for you.
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