ARC review: A Secret Between Friends by Serenity Woods

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Genie and her best friend Ciara enlisted in the New Zealand Army shortly after finishing school.  After having the time of their lives traveling the world on active duty, they find themselves in Afghanistan.  One day, their truck is targeted with an unexpected bomb.  Genie is seriously injured, and Ciara is killed.

Genie returns home to heal after surgery and is devastated to learn that Ciara’s mother blames Genie for Ciara’s death.  Simone is convinced that Ciara would never have joined the Army if Genie hadn’t encouraged her.  Being blamed for your best friend’s death would do a number on anyone, but it’s even worse for Genie, who lived with Ciara’s family for years after her own mother died.

Genie just hopes that Ciara’s older brother, Niall, doesn’t blame her.  Genie’s had a crush on Niall as long as she can remember, although he’s always seemed unattainable.  There’s the age difference, the fact that Genie lived with his family, and also the girl Niall’s been dating for the last decade.  But as Genie returns home and her brother catches her up on the local gossip, she learns that Niall is newly single.  Maybe there’s a chance for them after all?

This book was a nice surprise.

It’s clear from the beginning that Genie and Niall are going to get together, but the way that it happens is actually kind of touching.  Genie decides to honor Ciara’s memory by completing her bucket list, and Niall agrees to help her.  As they check off points on Ciara’s list, they become closer and eventually realize their mutual attraction.

The book was also surprisingly funny at times!  I love it when authors weave a little humor into their romances, and that’s exactly what happens here.  Take, for instance, this description of Niall:

He should have had a warning sign above his head. One of those they stuck on fairground rides, ‘Use with caution if you have a bad back or a heart condition.’

I think we all know somebody like this.  I, for one, knew exactly what Genie was talking about!

The story is engaging and it’s a very easy read.  It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s certainly worth your time if you like steamy contemporary romances.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆