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October 22, 2014

A Shot of YA: Secret Lies by Amy Dunne

Series: Stand-alone
Format: PDF
Release Date: December 16, 2013
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Source: Author
Excerpt here
Recommended by: Livia of Butterfly-O-Meter Books
Genre: Contemporary MYA - LGBT
Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and her seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?


I went to an all-girls private school and witnessed first hand some of the things that Jenny O'Connor and Nicola Jackson experienced in SECRET LIES from the standpoint of exploring one's sexuality. Let me clarify that a bit in case some of you get green, I mean I had friends who are gay and I saw them struggle with the semantics, go through heartbreaks, work out their confusions, and hide it from their parents during this time. Now my friends might not have been bullied or considered freaks in our school but some of my friends' parents sure would have a conniption if they found out that their darling daughter's having scissor fantasies with her alleged "bestfriend". These coupled with adolescence, peer pressure, and keeping up with school can be a challenging on its own and comparing them with Jenny and Nicola, my friends had it easy somewhat. 

She [Jenny] was the girl every girl every guy in school fantasized about being with and the girl every other girls desperately longed to be... But she sacrificed a lot for her popularity, more than she dared to admit, and the idea of her friends and others discovering it was aa an act terrified.

Being gay is just the tip of the iceberg in SECRET LIES, Amy Dunne created this perfect storm for her MC's. Aside from the bullying thanks to ignorance, there's also a multitude of issues plaguing both Jenny and Nic. Jenny may be the prettiest and most popular kid in school but she has a dark secret of her own, when things get too intense, Jenny cuts herself. On top of this, she drinks, smokes, and medicates herself with the occasional marijuana to cope. Nic is an outsider, a loner, and a victim of physical and verbal abuse thanks to her mother's good-for-nothing boyfriend. Nic's back is like a portrait of nightmare, riddled with scars ranging from cigarette burns to various proofs of injury. Jenny and Nic's personal stories were raw and very emphatic, it was quite easy to put oneself in either of their shoes and imagine what they're feeling or thinking as they try to survive this phase in their lives. 

And maybe I'm in denial or simply naive because I can't help but be overwhelmed and sometimes shake my head in disbelief over how some people can be so vile as exemplified by the secondary characters! I mean just because someone is different from you doesn't make them a freak! Like who made these people the epitome of perfections?! And I still don't understand how someone can physically beat a defenseless person to a pulp just because you don't like their existence? I know SECRET LIES happens in real life, some situations are even more brutal and even fatal, still it's a tough pill to swallow, fiction or otherwise. 

Jenny and Nic's story might not be for everyone but it's still a story worth knowing. I like the way their relationship developed even if it was quite fast. I think the reason why it didn't come across as insta-love was because it started innocent and real tender, their passion was more protective than insistent and imposing. I liked the realness of SECRET LIES and I recommend it to readers who are fond of reading books riddled with social issues.




Amy was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in philosophy and psychology. After graduating, she worked for a while with vulnerable young people until she moved on to deliver training and educational courses. She is currently in the process of setting up her own speech writing business aptly named, Gift of the Gab. She and her lovely partner Lou celebrated their Civil Partnership at the start of this year. They share a love of Dolly Parton and live with their two gorgeous cats and very naughty puppy.

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21 comments:

  1. I always get so upset with these stories. How is someones life any of your business? I just don't get it. And to bully anyone for it (or for anything really) is horrible.

    Thanks for bringing this book to our attention. Sounds like a good one.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Oh you'll get emotionally involved that's for sure

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  2. Wow, this book sounds great! Very emotional and gritty, but very important. While these kinds of stories aren't easy to read I tend to get totally sucked in and emotionally involved. I hadn't heard of this one yet so thanks for the review!

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    1. I shy away from angst ridden romance novels but this is the kind of "difficult" that I like to get my hands on.

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  3. Scissor fantasies! You made me spit hot water on my computer, dammit. lol. Oh man. I went to a private religious school, so yeah, I know what you mean. There was one girl who from a young age was ... obvious, but denied it and even tried to 'like' boys. I know it was very hard for her. She's happily married now, though. To a woman. :) This book sounds really interesting.

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    1. That's how they call it right? Scissoring? LOL

      That's great for her, love should be free

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  4. Ha ha.. I am with Christy when I read that line about Scissor fantasies I had this flash of a South Park episode in my head... anyway, this sounds like a very interesting book that explores some important issues facing teens. I haven't heard of it before now, and I am curious.

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  5. Hrm yeah this would not be the book for me. Glad you liked it over all though.

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    1. Different strokes! Thanks for checking it out :)

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  6. I am glad it did not feel insta cos of after that insta would have been wrong

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  7. I like coming of age stories and yeah, they can be heartbreaking. The bullying is just beyond my understanding. I might not be comfortable with someone else, but that's on me and not them. It makes us different not one of us better. Glad to know about this one, thanks!

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    1. The bullying was so mean in this one. Shaming, pressuring, name calling, gosh! I feel bad for the kids who learn early on that they're gay but have to be a certain way for self preservation.

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  8. Oh yes it must be difficult to see how they treat the characters like that. I think it would bother me as well. The topic is interesting though, I didn't know about this book.

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    1. It's indie and it's a good one, definitely needs all the help it can get in the marketing dept

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  9. this sounds like an interesting and sad read :( thought I don't understand the struggles personally myself I have seen it too, and how difficult it can be.

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    1. True, it's one of those things where you wish you can do more but the battle has to be won and fought by the person alone. Hard to stand by and watch and you can only do so much

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  10. Wow. This seems like a pretty realistic and emotional read, Braine! It is great to see a book touch on issues that effect people today. Great review!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

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  11. Even with the difficult subject matters, I think I'd enjoy Secret Lies, Braine! I can't imagine being in an all girls school! I guess it's difficult to imagine something that's very different from what I've experienced myself - but maybe this story will help me with that :)
    It's really hard being a teen, and when one feels a little different from others, it just makes matters so much harder!
    Great review, Braine, I'm adding this to my TBR :)
    Have a fantastic week, happy reading!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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