Review and Giveaway – The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt




Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance

Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)

Date of Publication: August 4, 2020

Number of Pages: 352

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True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future.

Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it.

But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.


“A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.”
Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly


Interabang Books

(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)

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A portion of royalties are going to the It Gets Better Project.

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Love is love no matter the sex of the partners.

If not for living in a small Texas town, deep in the Bible belt, where judgments are strong and people bend to the will of the narrow worldview that is often so common in those towns, Sophie and Nora would have been able to be open about their love when they were teens and not keep it locked away where it fermented and hurt them both for so long.

This was the first same-sex romance novel that I’ve read, and it was interesting to see how the plotting was so closely matches a romance that has heterosexual characters. The main difference being that in this story one of things that keeps the two apart are the attitudes and behaviors of those small-town people. People who wanted to keep the two women apart. People who hid secrets about what Ray and Brenda actually did eighteen years ago that drove Nora away.

There was also the baggage that each woman brought to the present, and it was interesting to see how they worked through the baggage. Sophie and Nora are both flawed characters, and the author deftly handles the push and pull between the women as they work to find their way through the mess of their lives.

I liked how strong the women are in face of the judgments and the obvious homophobia that was thrown their way. At Nora’s father’s funeral when Sophie’s mother makes it all about her grief, Nora’s reaction is described this way, “Everyone waited for me to offer my condolences, but I merely stared at the woman. I’d rather be waterboarded than offer her an ounce of sympathy.”

The book is told an alternating chapters with Nora and Sophie having their own point of view. As with any issue or argument, it is often good to see both sides, but that also can lead to repetition of information and facts. Luckily, that wasn’t an issue in this book. Each viewpoint offered clarity to the struggles the characters were having.
What was a small issue for me was how much the tension in the story centered around the physical. Relationships are so much more than that. It didn’t bother me that the sex was between two women. I have the same issue with stories that have heterosexual couples, and the need for the physical expression of the relationship comes across as more important than the other parts of being a couple.
Still, that didn’t take away my enjoyment of this story of Nora and Sophie and the tough choices they made to make a life together.
Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West”. The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020.

When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.

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TWO WINNERS each get a signed hardcover copy of the book and their choice of
either a FaceTime call or virtual book-club visit with the author.

 August 11-21, 2020 ** (U.S. Only)





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