Misleading Summary and Slow Moving as Molasses

The Secret Woman (Casablanca Classics) - Victoria Holt

So maybe I should stop reading Holt? Cause the last few books have been underwhelming to the extreme. I had high hopes for this one, but when it turned into Chantal's journal entries (alternate title) I lost interest in this book. Holt or her publishers should have pushed forth this book is focused on two main characters (Anna and Chantal) and that most of the book is told by Chantal's point of view. I guessed some of what was ultimately revealed. And as Moonlight said elsewhere, this book really isn't Gothic. It's a messed up romantic suspense with barely developed characters besides Chantal. 

 

Holt follows her formula of a main character left orphaned cause of reasons. The main character of Anna is thrust upon her aunt who makes Voldemort look cuddly. Anna's aunt is something of a big deal in the antiquities and starts to teach Anna cause apparently she has no prospects besides taking care of her aunt and her home called the Queen's House. 

 

When Anna is 12 she meets a young man named Red who she finds is the half brother to the heir of the Crediton fortune. Anna for no reason falls in love with Red and can't wait to see him again. She doesn't til years later when he randomly shows up for reasons. Eventually it comes out Red is married and was probably playing with Anna's affections, she becomes resigned to taking care of her increasingly ill aunt til a nurse comes along named Chantal. Chantal is everything Anna is not, lively, pretty, and intelligent. The two become friends and Chantal gets them to both write journals in which they exchange for the other one to read. Chantal demands they be honest with each other in all things and seems interesting t on knowing Anna's every thought. 

 

When Anna's aunt dies leaving suspicions on Anna, Chantal has to find more work which leads Chantal to become employed by the Creditons. 

 

The whole book is mostly Chantal's thoughts on the Creditons and her increasingly affections for the heir, named Rex. Anna at more than the halfway point cause of even more ridiculous reasons is employed as a governess to Red's child and goes on a voyage back to Red's wife's island home. 

 

The writing really wasn't great. It didn't seem written in the correct time period. How Chantal and Anna speak feels wrong. The reactions Chantal has to things reads wrong too. 

 

The flow is awful. I got sick of reading this at the 50 percent point. I was tempted to skip to the end cause I honestly didn't care for anyone and despised Red and Anna and their bs love story. He's still married and you're making excuses. Bah to you both. 

 

The ending which reveals all was kind of a joke. I mean I read the letter and shook my head. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but whatever. This book had way too much going on. I think when we get to the end with Anna, I thought her HEA was tainted as anything. Holt seems to think Gothic books were just terrible men and women who loved them. There is nothing that screams Gothic to me in this book.