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VINE VOICEon July 16, 2003
Different from her other works. I almost couldn't believe it was her writing this suspense. It reminded me somewhat of Greg Iles "The Quiet Game", also a story of a widower father who is an attorney and getting involved in a case in his home town that affects him personally.
In this story, the attorney, John O'Rourke, is a widower with 2 kids, a teen son and a daughter. He is trying his best to raise them in his home town where everyone knows them, but is making enemies by taking on a horrible case. He is representing an admitted serial killer of young women and the town hates him for it. Along comes a lovely woman who believes this serial killer may be the cause for her sisters disappearance 6 months prior in this area. John is torn between wanting to help the woman, whom he is attracted to, and doing his best for his client. The story takes many twists and turns and is written very well. You feel connected to these characters and think about them even when you are not reading... that's the sign of a well written novel.
Luanne writes in the same New England setting that she has used in her other books. Her characters, even the pets, have captivating personalities, and the discriptive locale always makes you want to go there. Another great book by Ms. Rice... do some more like this, Luanne.
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VINE VOICEon January 14, 2004
A new book by Luanne Rice is always an occasion for me to rush right out, buy the book and then wait a few weeks before I read it. Why do I wait to read it? Perhaps its because I'm waiting for just the right mood or knowing that once I finish this book I'll have to wait a bit till Ms. Rice writes another one. And while my wait wasn't that long this time since I recently read the Firefly trilogy which included Firefly Beach, Safe Harbor and True Blue almost back to back, The Secret Hour is Luanne Rice at her very best. As she has accomplished in so many of her novels I loved, Ms. Rice introduces us to characters who have suffered tragedies in their family structures and find healing within themselves and through others.
John O'Rourke, a defense attorney and his children 14 year old Ted and 11 year old Maggie, are still reeling from the accidental death of their wife and mother Theresa. Now two years later, John is desperately trying to save his client from the death penalty. Isolated form his neighbors and community for representing this convicted killer, John and his family suffer greatly particularly the children who have barely begun to deal with their mother's passing. Then one day a new woman, Kate Harris, arrives in town. The family mistakes her for a new housekeeper/babysitter whom they have been advertising for in the local papers. But Kate has her own reason for being in Connecticut and wanting to get to know the O'Rourke family. Thus begins a reader's journey and adventure where once again Rice's plots are filled with the themes of love between siblings, love between a man and a woman and happiness after tragedies.
Although not always a fan of the genre of romantic suspense, I loved this book. I found that Rice's writing was emotional and heart rending without being sappy as characterized in books by Nicholas Sparks and others. Her characters are well portrayed and I think about them now weeks after I finished this title.
While I always wait patiently for a new Luanne Rice book,this time my wait is almost over. Her new book, Dance With Me, is due out in February and I for one can't wait. I will purchase it immediately, put it away and read it at just the right time, which for me is almost any time. I do hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
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on March 21, 2003
I think this was one of Luanne Rice's best books. It's definitely different from the others I've read, but in a good way.
I liked that she wrote a book with some suspense. Kind of a change. She did a good job with the new aspect. She still kept in her trademarks of the East coast & beauty surrounding it as well as the love story & the family story.
Great book! She's my new favorite author.
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on February 4, 2003
In Connecticut, defense attorney John O'Rourke struggles with his moral dilemma of defending some of society's worse monsters to insure they have a fair trail and the requirements of a single dad raising two youngsters by himself. The townsfolk treat John like a pariah especially with his current case, defending Greg Merrill, the Breakwater Killer. The latest incident is a brick tossed threw his kitchen window that two cops blithely write it off as if John was the criminal.
Immediately following the brick incident, Kate Harris arrives at the O'Rourke residence. She wants John to ascertain whether his infamous client killed her sister, who vanished without the body recovered. As Kate helps the O'Rourkes heal from the loss of their mother, she falls in love with the trio. The kids welcome her into their lives, but John is reluctant as he feels guilt over his spouse's cheating while he overly worked on defending the dregs.
THE SECRET HOUR is a powerful legal romantic thriller that is at its best when John, living up to the Dershowitz credo that a "good lawyer should want to take the hardest cases, the most unpopular defendants", must defend himself and his children from his neighbors. Readers will feel his strength from the start when John thinks back on an incident at an ice cream parlor with his young daughter involving the condemnation by a senior citizen. The story line is fast-paced yet obvious, but romantic suspense fans and legal thriller buffs will want to read this close look at the toll of defending death row convicts on the personal lives of an attorney and his family.
Harriet Klausner
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on September 8, 2003
I have read all of Luanne Rice's books to date and would say that she is one of my favorite authors. I grew up in southern Rhode Island so I am familiar with many of the landmarks that she mentions. As I read, I can envision the scenarios and hear the surf pounding the shore.
That being said, I wasn't as crazy about this book as I have been about her others. I don't want to give away the ending, but I thought it was just a little too far-fetched to be believable.
However, I did like her development of the characters and the interaction between John and his children. That was real.
I guess you can't win them all.
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on February 21, 2014
I read and liked Luanne Rice because of how well she reflected relationships between women and because I didn't have to worry about violence in the plot line. This book is in complete opposition to her usual stories and it's made me take stock of whether I want to read any more of her. I was expecting nothing like this based on the write-up on the main site at Amazon.
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on August 8, 2003
"The Secret Hour" by Luanne Rice combines drama, romance and suspense in a riviting, can't-put-down, narrative. Kate Harris's search for her missing sister leads her to John O'Rourke's front door. Kate's quest and her enchantment with John's children embroil her in an action-packed drama sure to captivate readers.
"The Secret Hour", is another bestselling winner for this talented writer.
Beverly J Scott author of "Righteous Revenge" and "Ruth Fever." Reviewer for Intriguing Authors and Their Books
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on May 19, 2004
I don't think author Luanne Rice really pulls off the suspense/crime element here, but still, she is such a good writer that I'll probably read anything she does.
Although this novel sort of takes place in the Hubbard's Point/Black Hall vicinity that Luanne Rice usually sets her novels in.......none of the same characters repeat the way they usually do from her other novels.
A Lawyer who defends serial killers on death row may have information about "Kate's" sister who is missing, as one of the killer's may, or may not have killed a special sister.
Luanne Rice's wonderfully descriptive and evocative writing about seaside towns, the nature of sisterhood, the pain of death, and children's point of view.....are featured throughout the first 3/4's of "Secret Hour".
But, the last 3 chapters are where the suspense really picks up. There is no real action or suspense until then, so I am only going to give this 3 stars for not really being as action-packed as I was lead to believe.
I still think she is a great writer, though, and I am a dedicated Luanne Rice reader, no matter what.
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VINE VOICEon December 28, 2005
Courtesy of CK2S Kwips and Kritiques

John O'Rourke is the defense attorney for serial killer Greg Merrill, AKA "The Breakwater Killer" and many people are not happy he's handling this case. When a brick is thrown through his front window, he knows he's in for a rough time, as are his Children. In the middle of all of this, John is dealing with his feelings about his wife's recent death, and her adultery.

Kate Harris arrives on John's doorstep seeking his aid. Her sister is missing; a possible victim of Merrill, the body has never been recovered. John is reluctant to discuss his case with Kate but finds himself drawn in to the mystery surrounding her sister's disappearance nonetheless. Although the meeting of John and Kate was under unfortunate circumstances, she finds herself drawn to his young children... and to john. She may be just what he needs to heal his wounded spirit. But danger is all around as they try to solve the mystery of Kate's sister.

This story is classic of Luanne Rice, though she reveals her darker side in the psychological undertones found in The Secret Hour. However, as this was the abridged version of the story, a lot of the details that should have really provided the darker feel were missing. Even so, the suspenseful air comes through loud and clear, keeping the reader guessing. The surprise twist at the end threw this reviewer for a loop as she was not expecting that turn of events.

As always in a Luanne Rice novel, relationships of many kinds are showcased. One will find the bond between a father and his children, the sometimes upsetting relationship of a lawyer with a guilty client, the love between sisters which is the strongest relationship bond in this story, and the love that grows between people proving that family is what we make of it, and is not always formed by blood. The tender feelings that develop between John and Kate are well done, making readers understand what is going through their minds as they form this unlikely bond.

? Kelley A. Hartsell, December 2005. All rights reserved.
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on May 1, 2003
I made the mistake of starting the book while at work. I had all I could do to put it down long enough to drive home and get ready for bed!
This is a great departure from her usual story lines, so I think that may be one reason I really dove into it. The other reason, and probably the biggest reason, is that I'm a paralegal and can easily put myself in John O'Rouke's position. However, I didn't expect the book to end the way it did. It was a cool, surprising twist at the end. I'm still trying to decide, though, whether the last chapter was a good ending. I think they might have left a couple chapters out!
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