Published: 1st May, 2014
Pages: 409 Pages
Ryan Décarie could literally charm the pants off anyone. It was his biggest talent and his biggest downfall.
When he crosses paths with Bente Denison five long years after breaking her heart, sparks fly.
Trying to convince her that he’s finally ready for something more serious isn’t easy – and the reason why is simple.
He’s never had anything serious.
Totally clueless when it comes to meaningful relationships, Ryan’s in dire need of guidance, and it comes from the most unlikely source imaginable – his four-year-old niece, Bridget.
Okay where to start… this book was totally swoon worthy! I absolutely love Ryan Décarie and his new found relationship with Bente Denison. But I absolutely adore Bridget Décarie; I swear that kid has so much personality, she almost steals the show… she’ll definitely steal your heart!
Secret North is the fourth instalment in GJ Walker-Smith’s The Wishes Series. It tells the story of self proclaimed man-whore Ryan Décarie as he tries to right his ways and commit to a one-woman relationship with Bente Denison (who we first met in Second Hearts). It’s a heart-warming tale of love and self discovery, and is truly a book for every hopeless romantic out there. But if your not a huge fan of romance, don’t despair this book is a lot of fun as well, in fact it reads like a rom-com at times (particularly with the scenes that Bridget is in). Secret North is one of those books that will make you laugh, make you cry, but ultimately leave you with a smile on your face wishing for your very own Ryan Décarie or Pecan Pie Girl.
“I’m going to get your heart, Ryan,” she whispered.
“Bring it on, sweetheart. I’m ready for you.”
When GJ Walker-Smith first announced this book, I was a little bit worried. You see Charli and Adam have stolen my heart and I wasn’t sure how I’d take a novel dealing with other characters – I really just wanted more Charli and Adam if were being honest. But just like when I read Sand Jewels, I quickly overcame that fear and fell head first into the world that Walker-Smith so beautifully portrays. This is helped partially by the supporting cast cameos of Charli, Adam and Bridget. But honestly, Secret North is a beautiful novel about passion and life and how we choose to live it and with whom. It’s beautifully written and dare anyone not to sigh in awe when the title’s meaning is revealed towards the end of the book.
“Do you love me, Ryan?”
“If I say yes, can I keep you forever?”
It feels like a lifetime ago that we were first introduced to Ryan Décarie (when truthfully it was less than a year ago and only two books ago) and he first walked on to the page all cocky play-boy like, self assured and not looking for anything from anyone. He was afraid of commitment and liked to have minimal dealings with La La Land. Then in Storm Shells we bore witness to a whole other side of Ryan when he stayed in Pipers Cove looking out for the heavily pregnant Charli while she sorted – ignored – the looming deadline of telling Adam. We got to see a sweet side of him that went so adorably hand in hand with his witty humours side. And now in Secret North we’re introduced to a whole other side of Ryan – the hopeless romantic, second guessing, out of his depth Ryan Décarie.
Having previously slept with Bente back in the day (Second Hearts), the last thing Ryan expected was to find her booted out a cab on his door step. But there she was, all flustered and angry and lost. Without thinking, and feeling partly sorry for himself, he asks her to spend his 30th birthday with him … including toddler aged chaperones … and the rest is history as they say.
“You haven’t changed one bit, Bente Denison. You’re still mean.”
“I doubt you have either,” she replied. “I’ll bet you’re still a pretty boy man-whore.”
I grinned. “At least you think I’m still pretty.”
What follows is a well thought out book that showcases the best and worst parts of a relationship and humanity. It’s perfectly paced and rather witty and I dare you not to laugh at Bridget and Ryan’s antics. Throughout the book these two share a lot of time together, and I think it’s even remarked on in the book that prior to Bente the only relationship Ryan’s had with a girl in his entire life is the one that he has with his Niece. When Ryan is with Bridget, it’s almost as though he is completely free to be himself – his whole self, free from inhibition and expectation. Those two (Bridget and Ryan) share a special one of a kind connection and it’s kind of amazing to witness, even if its only fictional.
Despite the fact I was coming dangerously close to aiding and abetting a four-year-old criminal mastermind, I played along. “What If we caught?”
Bridget stared at me for a long moment while she thought it through. “You run, Ry,” she said. “Really fast.”
As is customary in La La Land, magic features heavily within this book, whether it be through the fairy stories Charli and Bridget tell, or through the magic of romance and the heart felt moments like the scene when Ryan is giving Bridget her wings back. The later moments happens quite late in the book and its one of those scenes where everything is just so beautiful, it’s hard not to cry. Especially given the scene’s background. After disappointing Bridget, Ryan is tasked with giving the bubbly toddler her beliefs back and he does it through story and ‘magic’ fairy wings. It’s truly precious. Not to mention a testimony to not only the characters strength, but GJ Walker-Smith’s writing. In this scene in particular, the characters aren’t just words on the page, they are living and breathing people before your very own eyes. They are real and mesmerising, and thus we live their heartache and triumphs as though they were our very own.
‘I think I should keep you forever,”
The corner of his mouth lifted. “You should,” he agreed. “I’m pretty close to being the complete package.”
And you know what? This book totally is.
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