Book four of the Elemental series
By Brigid Kemmerer
Available now from K-Teen (Kensington)
Read my review of Spirit
"Breathless," the short story at the end of SPIRIT, revealed that Nick Merrick is gay and more into his girlfriend Quinn's dance partner than Quinn. SECRET opens with Quinn happily helping Nick keep up his facade, but the secrets are about to start spilling out for both of them. Nick has some serious problems, as anyone following the Elemental series knows, and Quinn is having family trouble that often leaves her without a place to go at night.
I had my hopes up for SECRET since I've had a lot of fun with this series and Nick is my favorite of the Merrick brothers. It didn't quite live up to my hopes. There's very little of the series' ongoing action, just a few scenes at the beginning and end about the Guides. Instead of fantastical, life-or-death drama, there's lots of drama about dating, coming out, and abuse. It's all well done, but at times I felt more like I was reading a contemporary than a book about a guy who can control air. The series' romantic elements are still in play and both Nick and Quinn's romances get a decent amount of attention.
I did like that Brigid Kemmerer began the process of redeeming one of the series villains. One of the strongest aspects of the Elemental series has been the complex morality. I had trouble with some of the redemption, although I liked that it didn't come easy. And I love that it all led to an explosive scene at the end setting up the next book. (And I'm really curious about the focus of the next book since all of the Merrick brothers are now paired up.)
I think SECRET does not standalone as well as its predecessors. However, it could still be picked up by someone new to the series. It isn't an overly complicated mythology. But things are definitely becoming more dense and intertwined. SECRET wasn't my favorite in the series, but things have moved forward and I'm eager to see the fallout.