Hidden Sins
by Selena Montgomery, contemporary (2006)
Harper, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-079849-1


About 70 years ago, a bunch of robbers managed to get their hands - illegally, of course - on a good number of bags of gold as well as a mysterious figurine. Due to trust issues, they each hid a key to the safe, with all five keys required to unlock the safe, and the location of the hiding place of each key was tattooed on the respective thief's body. The method didn't work too well and the treasure was still hidden away today.

Our heroine Mara Reed, the granddaughter of the leader of the thieves, decides to get her hands on the treasure, but retrieving the latest clue to the location of one of the keys causes some nasty bad guys with guns to be hot on her heels. Fleeing Detroit, she ends up being reunited with Dr Ethan Stuart, a man from her past whom she loved once upon her time. Because our heroine had issues back then, she stole away from him when they were supposed to be having a happily ever after, along with his money. Now, it remains to be seen whether they can find a way out of their personal issues with each other to find a happily ever after second time around. Of course, there are also the treasure and the bad guys to worry about.

Hidden Sins is a decent read, although the story and the characters aren't by themselves too memorable in any way. But it is a serviceable read. I've read better, and I've read worse as well. However, there are some technical issues that mar the story.

The author loves her head hopping. She loves it so much, every other paragraph sees a point of view switch from one character to another. I don't mind head-hopping if it's done in moderation, but the author does it so often, I feel a little seasick after a while.

But a bigger problem here is the lack of believability I have with the story. You see, the main characters, especially Mara, love to dwell on their feelings and reminisce on their past, mostly for the sake of the reader. However, in this story, the characters can launch into their internal monologues at the most implausible moments. Early on, when Mara is on the run, she can pause to reminisce about her childhood when any sane woman would be thinking on how to extricate herself out of a situation full of flying bullets. The emo characters spend so much time dwelling on their issues when they are supposed to be in danger, and as a result, I have a hard time taking the threat on their lives seriously.

Mara is a lady who came from a dysfunctional childhood, and as a result, she did a few not-so-nice things in the past when she had to survive. I get that, and I get that she may be remorseful of those things that she did, but in this story, Mara is so eager to become a martyr to her sins that she soon begins to annoy me with her antics. She and Ethan are so determined to have the wrong conclusions about the other person's feelings for them, it soon becomes ridiculous how these two can't seem to talk straight with each other and instead compete in what seems like a tournament to see who can become the biggest martyr to love.

Hidden Sins is, all things considered, a pretty average romantic suspense story.

Rating: 53


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