Silk and Secrets is another re-read from Mary Jo Putney for me. The story is very special in its own way. I want to say up front that my 5 stars rating is personal and biased. I cannot imagine a lot of people feeling similarly about this book. For example, my dear Tinsoni, I am not sure you would like this book very much. If I wasn't so emotionally involved, I would rate it 3.5 stars.
Silk and Secrets is the 2nd book in the Slik trilogy from Putney. Having read the first book Silk and Shadows and loved it dearly, I read Silk and Secrets with enthusiasm years ago. Silk and Secrets is the story of Ross and Juliet. Ross, 21, an honorable, respectable, intelligent, brave, strong, sexy, truly PERFECT English hero married Juliet, 17, a red-haired, passionate, rebellious, wild, beautiful, not-fitting-in Scottish heroine. It was a love match. Ross and Juliet were madly in love. Having found love at such a tender age and being the forever honorable man that he was, Ross proposed. And madly in love that Juliet was, she said yes, choosing to not pay any attention to the fact that Ross was the perfect gentleman, but she was forever an oddball of the English society because of her unusual upbringing. The story began 12 years after they were married. 6 months into the marriage, Juliet left Ross, leaving him only a note and never saw him again until 12 years later, fate brought them together in Central Asia. When they were reunited, they had been estranged for 11.5 years. To save Juliet's brother, Ross travelled to a dangerous place risking his own neck. Julliet, of course insisted to go with him.
I can think of quite a few reasons why this would not be a wildly popular book. First of all, the setting is too rich for a romance novel. Putney painted a extremely complex backdrop for the story. That goes for characters, locations, cultures, dangers. For someone who wants a quick romance book, Silk and Secrets is too much. Secondly, the story tackles infidelity, a one-time mistake, and I have to say, all too understandable, but still a very bitter pill to swallow for starry-eyed girls. Thirdly, Ross and Juliet acted like 2 mature adults and the passion, while palable, is not hot to the touch. Fourthly, the romance, while being the central element, only occupies about 50% of the book.
All of which, spell a "dense" book, heavy in materials, details, and emotions. It is not a book that makes you sigh with happiness. Instead it grabs your throat and threatens to not let go. You choose to read it, at your own peril.
I wish Putney had saved us the cultural and geographic details and given us more romance. Having read the story before, I skipped most of the background details this time, and was able to concentrate only the relationship. At times I also felt it was difficult to continue. Ross and Julliet had too much baggage. The moving tenderness is not present enough.
So why 5 stars?
In this book, I think Putney has successfully captured one truth in love: sometimes, it is possible to fall in love with the right person, at the wrong time. And sometimes, it is possible that, you meet your perfect match too early, before either one of you was ready to commit. And sometimes, a couple must survive betrayals, disappoinments and heartbreaks before they come together. And sometimes, it is not because of some objective circumstances. Sometimes, it is just the way it has to be, because of who you are, you must live before you love.
I did not LOVE this story the way I loved other romance stories. I can't, because this book is not a romance. It is a love story, with all its ugliness and pains. I cannot recommend this story because I think I suffered through it, feeling the regrets and pains together with Ross and Juliet. It does not have enough "romance" to cushion all that ugliness. Instead we are fed cultual details. I know little of Central Asia and the Muslim religion, so I cannot comment on the authenticity of the story. Putney did a great job buildling this exotic land, but spent too many pages on things around Ross and Julliet, which ironically, is why Ross and Julliet seem so real.
I will stop trying to explain why I gave the book 5 stars even though I did not experience my 5 stars feelings reading this book. I guess I can't and my review probably won't help any readers. My feelings toward the story are still raw and the emotions true. This book did not make me feel happy or entertained, not even when the story ends well and everyone lived happily ever after. But it made me feel things that I do not want to feel, a deep emotion that one experiences when one reconciles with an ugly truth because there is no other way to live.