January 15, 2014

REVIEW: Secret (Elemental #4)

Secret (Elemental #4), by Brigid Kemmerer
To Be Published January 28, 2014
Kensington Teen
ARC, provided by the publisher
young adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Nowhere is safe. Not even home…

Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.

Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown.
Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.
Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—-or he’ll lose his family.

Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.

Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.

There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.

Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series has had my attention since I read the prequel novella, Elemental (Elemental #0.5), a year-and-a-half ago. Brigid has this awesome ability to build upon not only the paranormal elements to her story, but also the relationships that form in each book. It's like spinning plates - you start with one, and once you get the fourth one going, you look back and see the first one still going strong. 

Nick is struggling with several huge secrets. He's the trustworthy brother, so everyone turns to him for help. And, it's becoming too much for his 17-year-old shoulders to bear. Especially since he's got issues of his own to deal with. He's recently started to come to terms with the fact that he likes guys, and he has no idea how to share that monumental piece of information with his brothers. The only ones who know are Adam, the guy he likes, and Quinn the girl he's supposedly dating. Instead, the secret Nick keeps from them is that he can wield the wind like no one's business. 

Meanwhile Quinn is keeping secrets of her own. She's saddled with Nick's secret, plus she's keeping her positively tragic home life from him. Then, when she starts hanging out with Nick's mortal enemy, Tyler, it adds one more massive complication to the mix. 

Secret is Nick's book. Since his novella, Breathless, came out several months ago, much of the discussion I've heard around the blogosphere regarding Secret has been about Nick's ongoing struggle with his homosexuality. And, yes, that is a major part of this book. Nick has massive misgivings about opening up to his brothers and to Hunter. Most especially, his fear lies in revealing himself to his twin brother, Gabriel. 

I don't know, though. I honestly felt like Quinn owned this book moreso than Nick. This was just as much Quinn's book as it was Nick's. This poor girl lives in such positively awful conditions. Her mom is a drunk. Her brother is a coke head. She constantly lives in fear of being raped or beaten in her own home. She thinks herself fat, ugly and unworthy of love. And, when she finds out her boyfriend, Nick, doesn't want her either (at least, not the way she wants him), it's like the straw that breaks the camel's back. 

I was brought to tears so many times by Quinn's plight. This girl just wants someone to love her. And, every time she thinks she's found that, she realizes she really hasn't. My heart broke again and again for her. And, you couldn't exactly be angry at Nick for not wanting her like she wanted him. What was he to do? Sure - perhaps using her as his beard wasn't the best idea. But, it really seemed as if Quinn was on an island by herself. 

And, then along came the surprise that was Tyler. He was introduced in the prequel novella and has made appearances in every book since. Tyler is one of the bad guys. And, in Secret, his motivations for treating the Merrick brothers as he has come to light. We see that things are not always black and white. Especially when it is Tyler who ends up being exactly what Quinn needed all along. 

And then yes, there is Nick and his budding relationship with Adam. The angst there nearly leaped off the pages. Nick has always been the silently confident one of the four brothers, so to see him so unsure and unsteady was unsettling in a good way. It helped draw me into everything Nick was feeling and allowed me to empathize with him. 

There is less of a focus on the brothers' elemental abilities in Secret than in any other book before it. There is definitely demonstrations of its use, almost exclusively from Tyler and Nick. But, the elemental abilities don't take center stage as they have in the past. And, you know, it was okay. I was so caught up in what was going on between Nick, Adam, Quinn and Tyler that I didn't even realize the lack of paranormalness until I had to sit down and think about my review. Never once did I think the book was lacking because of it. 

We're all geared up now for the fifth and final book in the series - Michael's book, Sacrifice - due out later in 2014. It's a bitter sweet thing. I can't wait to see how the brothers triumph at the end and how the relationships they've formed along the way help them toward that victory. But, then, it will be over! And that will suck. A lot. But, until then, we have Secret to tide us over. Keep some tissues nearby as you read it. :)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I loved Secret. Loooooved. Read a digital ARC, preordered a print copy. This is a descriptive and non-spoilery review - well done! :) (Super sad I missed your Brigid giveaway!!)