His Secret Past

Ellen Hartman
2008, Series Romance
Harl Superromance #1491, $5.50, 244 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373714912

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Kisses

I enjoy reading series romances, but so many of my favorite authors have left the genre that I find myself reading fewer and fewer these days. As a result, I didn't have the highest hopes for Ellen Hartman's His Secret Past. But I'm happy to report that I've now read one of my favorite series romances in recent years.

Anna owns a documentary film company with her brother. She's on location so much of the time that she doesn't have a regular home, but instead bunks with her him and his partner in between jobs. Anna loves her work, but receives a blow when her brother decides to pull out of the film company. He can't take the life any more, and wants to spend more time with his partner. But for Anna, the film company is her life. Her brother agrees to do one last film based on what happened 15 years earlier to one of Anna's friends on the bus for the rock band Five Star. The band wants a promo film and Anna and her brother accept the job intending to do the real film they're interested in at the same time.

Things don't go well with Five Star. The band in its current incarnation is awful and one of the members repeatedly hits on Anna. Worse yet, band members refuse to talk about the accident. Anna finally concludes that the only way to find out what actually happened is to interview Mason Star, the former lead singer of the band.

Mason has plenty of his own problems and ignores Anna's message. Unfortunately, his 17-year old son wants to go on the road with his band and, remembering his own life filled with drugs and alcohol as a 17-year old, he doesn't want his son to have any part of it. Sober for years, he runs a second chance center in what was formerly a run-down part of town. However, the area around is gentrifying and some local residents are trying to get the zoning laws changed to force the center to close. Anna tracks Mason down at a zoning commission meeting and sparks immediately fly between the two, although both try to ignore them.

I enjoyed both Anna and Mason a great deal. They're people with full lives families and friends they care for, jobs they love, and complicated histories. I completely believed in the attraction the two had for each other. I also understood the reasons they try to avoid getting involved. While I've rated the book as "kisses only" for sensuality, sexual tension sizzles throughout the book. However, if you want more than sexual tension, this book won't be for you.

There were a number of interesting secondary characters, chief among them Mason's son and Anna's brother, but none of them took away from the primary focus on the couple. I also enjoyed the family that Mason had created for himself in his center, and found myself wishing for more communities like it.

I truly enjoyed reading His Secret Past, and will undoubtedly read it again in the future. I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for future books by Ellen Hartman.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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