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on December 7, 2012
Trade Secrets by Holly Rozner
Page Count: 370
Release Date: 18 October 2012
Publisher: self-published
Source: Complimentary copy provided by JKS Communications in exchange for an honest and unbiased review as part of the Trade Secrets Virtual Book Tour

Prior to reading Trade Secrets, I didn't know a thing about the Exchange, but Rozner's dark, risky account has introduced me to a whole new fascinating, disturbing, and dangerous world.

The year is 1986 and Remy Masterman, a woman who believes she's seen enough of this world even though she's still in her fresh twenties, enters the Chicago Exchange with one mission: to discover the secret surrounding her father's sudden, obscure death--because she knows there is one. What she doesn't know is that the Exchange is enshrouded in sexism, savagery, and corruption, and it'll take more than her no-nonsense attitude and perseverance to see any progress. She refuses to use deceptive means because she's a classy woman--wholesome, kind, lovable--but in a market that can either make or break her, she's going to have to start using more than just her brains and beauty to get what she wants.

The infamous crash of 1987, known as Black Monday, sets back all of Remy's plans, but in return reveals some more intriguing ones from the corrupt offices of the Chicago market. I loved seeing this historical event fictionalized into a contemporary setting, then speculated upon. I'm a glutton for based-off-true-story fiction, and appreciated Rozner's insider perspective on the trade.

I felt the entire story, though, mostly the plot and all the characters, is too idealized, and not just in the "good" way. The main character is too good, the villain is too bad, and the ending just perfectly predictable. There are bumps in the road, but by the first half of the book, it's clear who will win and who will lose.

Character-wise, Sarna is probably the only one who has dimension, the only one who is admittedly shallow--a weakness all humans struggle with--and the only one whose complexity I really felt and really think is experienceable. She's sinfully deceptive and wicked smart, but she learns a few things upon entering the Exchange, which shapes her into a more genuine person. This rawness, honesty, and slow development make her the only dynamic character in the entire book. Off of that: Remy is too goody-good--there's nothing negative or even self-depreciating about her, ever--and that makes her dislikable. But she's a strong, self-assured woman who (although being perfectly gorgeous and intelligent and successful) has her own career and relationship struggles, like the best of us do. She's well-portrayed, just not very fleshy... not very human.

I think Rozner spent way too much time and detail on the wrong aspects. There are paragraphs describing just what the interior of a room looks like, or what someone's meal consists of, or what Sarna is wearing, which makes the book drag on profusely. 370 pages is moderate for a full-length novel, but it's excessive when it could have been written better in 270. I also don't think she was meant to write erotic scenes; she should stick to a strictly literary voice. Sensuality, she pulls off well, but the explicit scenes are just awkward. I felt like I was reading a teen fanfic or a porn script. Not erotic at all. Case in point:
"Joey's sticky semen floated inside of her."
"The money made [Joey] sooooooooo sexy."
Case closed. Trade Secrets could have done (and probably would have done better) without the sex, just leaving the sexy. When sex scenes become forced, the classy, crafty plot automatically turns foul. However, I did enjoy Sarna's sexual exploits... there are a few men she pursues throughout the book, and while her manipulation is utterly detestable, it's utterly thrilling at the same time.

Stylistically, Rozner's voice is smooth and reads chick-lit. Nothing phenomenal, but still easy on the eyes.

The ending is way too rushed! The climax is complicated and scintillating, and the falling action engaging, but the conclusion is too abrupt as if the author suddenly realized she had run out of her 370-page limit and squeezed in the entire resolution into two pages. I was left hanging with many of the characters, but wasn't at all impressed. There are two ways you can leave readers hanging: by indicating there will be a sequel to keep them coming for more, and by insufficiently urging things too quickly. Rozner did the latter; based on the conclusion that dispenses a "happy ending" but doesn't elaborate, I am in no way am I inclined to read a sequel (not that there even is one) yet I'm still left in the dark about many of the little plot holes. Leaves a sour taste in my mouth--all the suspense, all the drama... it was all for nothing. NOTHING!!!

Don't mind me, though. Really.

Love: As much as [Remy] needed a career and the feeling of success that came with it, she also needed people in her life. Making money can get a person only so far.
Only people can make you feel real.

Pros: Real, relatable emotions conveyed // Fascinating concept // Sharp commentary on the American Exchange // Penetrating insight on relationships and friendships // Sarna is a masterfully deceptive, dynamic character // Sensual // Easy read

Cons: Shallow, annoyingly idealized characters // Just so-so in style // Drags on a lot--370-page count unnecessary // Predictable // Awkward and misplaced erotic scenes // Hasty, unsatisfying ending with inadequate closure

Verdict: If you wouldn't be too psychologically distressed by a disgruntling ending, be sure to try Trade Secrets because the thrill and danger of the Chicago Exchange--a backdrop I've never encountered in literary fiction before--is worthy of stepping into, and bidding highly on.

7 hearts - Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable.
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on March 9, 2013
Was this supposed to be a romance novel? Was it an organized crime novel? Was it a mystery novel? Was it a strong woman righting wrongs novel? It's hard to tell because the author skips around through all four scenarios, exploring none very thoroughly. The inner workings of the Chicago trading scene were interesting, but felt repetitive without adding new pieces along the way. The main character sets out to find out if there was more to her Dad's death, but then seems to do NO detecting once she's "on the inside". She falls in love almost instantaneously, then later talks herself out of it. One minute she strong and assertive, the next she's whiny and a bundle of self-doubt. One chapter she's focused and moving forward, the next she's back to ruminating over the past. We're told she's smart and observant, but she never questions some behavior of those she gets close to, then she's angry when they turn out to have agendas and jobs that conflict with hers. I kept reading because certain aspects of technical info were interesting, but I wish the author had picked a path and written to it instead of trying to merge a bunch of story genre.
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on March 11, 2013
Ok, this book is all about the stock trading system in Chicago. I know little about the arena but this made a good background for the story of greed and corrupt people. Good old boys and their illegal trading stock to make money are the core of this story.
The FBI knew there was a problem with the trading pit but didn't know how deep the corruption went nor how to find that information. Meanwhile, two women get caught up in the mess and find they are more resilient than they ever imagined. When they go on the offensive, they change the world around them. They step up to the plate and learn to take care of themselves and even become their own champions.

Remy is a little too needy when it comes to her love life, but I guess some people are determined to see women as needing a man...crying over a man...etc. It's a little annoying but that's me...Sarna is portrayed as a money grubber. She wants what she wants and money is high on the list of must haves.

When the Feds swoop down on the trading scam the good old boys are on the offensive and everyone is left shuffling but Remy and Sarna are the ones to act. One to investigate a family death and the other to avenge financial ruin. Remy shares what she knows with her FBI boyfriend but when they fight, she faces the bad guys nose to nose and demands fair trades and treatment on the trading floor. Sarna uses her body to question one of the men and gets him to admit to killing a trader that didn't want to go along with the corruption and cheating of traders.

I liked the Sarna character more than Remy. Sarna was a strong woman while Remy was a bit of a whiner. The men, the two women fell in love with were isolated and didn't share much even to make an effort to protect them. Ken, Remy's boyfriend is pretty stilted. He is secretive...not very caring and understanding. Sid, Sarna's true love is a shallow tool.

The love scenes were a little grab-it-and-growl...pushing her head down....need I say more??

This is a well written book. I was a little tentative about it when I started reading about stock trading but as I got into the book I enjoyed it.
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on March 25, 2013
This was nice, light reading. Didn';t have to know much about trading and it gives you some insight into the process, particularly insider trading. Whether this is fiction or fiction based on fact, I don't really know. It'll keep you interested to the end. Author has a comfortable writing style that makes for a comfortable read as well. It you enjoy a fun mystery, you might want to pick this one up!
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on December 8, 2012
Remy Masterman buys a seat on the Exchange in Chicago becoming one of the first women traders in the Pit. Remy's main purpose is to discover the who and why behind her father's "accident". Remy becomes a witness to and participant in history when she's in the Pit trading during the crash of October 1987. The '87 crash was actually worse than the crash of '29 that heralded the Great Depression. Does Remy survive the crash? Does she discover the truth about her father's wreck? What about the other players, Oscar, Zach, Jason, Joey, Sarna, Ken, and Sid?

Remy Masterman~nee Andrea Saks- buys a seat on the Exchange to ferret out the truth about her father's fatal accident. Remy doesn't believe it was an accident and her mission is to find and bring the killer(s) to justice. Remy is extremely smart, determined, and beautiful.
Zach Silverman- Chairman of the Exchange and puppet master extraordinaire, former partner to Remy's father and one of her chief suspects.
Oscar Doheney- Zach's right hand man and doer of dirty deeds.
Jason Bramson- Golden boy of the Exchange and bagman for Oscar and Zach. Jason is making millions and riding high, but for how long?
Sarna Bramson- Jason's wife. Sarna is beauty, sex, and cunning personified. She relies on her looks and sex to control men and get what she wants. What Sarna wants is lots and lots of money.
Joey Fortunato- is Oscar's find. Joey was working in a shoe store when Oscar offered him the position of being his clerk. Joey's watching the traders, the money, and he's very hungry. Easy pickings....
Ken Baldwin- Consultant among other things. Ken meets Remy in Paris. Their attraction is strong and immediate. Ken lives in New York, Remy in Chicago. A long distance romance will be the least of their problems.
Sid- Ken's partner and plant in the Exchange.

TRADE SECRETS is an intelligent adrenaline rush. Who needs spies and covert ops when you have such machinations in the financial arena at home?
Ms. Rozner does an excellent job of taking a labyrinthian subject and making it comprehensible to even a neophyte like me. The world of high finance carries big rewards with an exponential risk for total failure and ruin. The energy and tension conveyed while Remy is at the Exchange and in the Pit is palpable. The very idea of the power held and wielded by people like Oscar and Zach is enough to make one shudder.
I liked and respected Remy from the beginning. She starts an unlikely friendship with Sarna by offering to help her learn the ropes of trading. Traders aren't known for their willingness to help others or morals in general. Remy was an exception. I wanted her to have a happily ever after served with a large slice of justice.
Sarna was different; she's not the type of woman I usually relate to or like, however, I did come to respect her. Remy and Sarna's friendship was a surprise because women like Sarna don't usually have real women friends. When faced with true adversity Sarna discovered she possessed loyalty to certain people and a stainless steel spine. The lengths she went to and risks she took in order to reveal the truth were substantial.
While I liked Joey in the beginning I can't say I liked who he became.
Oscar and Zach didn't have a lot to commend or redeem them to me.
Jason was a disappointment. Part of me had hoped for more from him.
Ken was just what I'd expected and wanted for Remy.
As for Sid, you'll just have to read the book to find out what he gets up to.
While the men play an important role my focus was on the women. They're the ones who were really the movers and shakers!

TRADE SECRETS is cerebral, sexy, exciting and fun proving you can have it all and a side of twisted chips.

Reviewed by IvyD for Manic Readers
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on January 4, 2013
The plot was somewhat engaging (that's why the 2 instead of a 1), but the entwined romance story and character development was AWFUL. The main character is a financial trader in Chicago. One day, because she has a date she can't stay focused on her trading and decides to go to Neiman Marcus to buy a dress. Really? REALLY? Then once at the event she thinks about how stupid she thinks these fancy events are. That did it for me.

The interaction between the women and men was so bad, that I had to look at the cover again to check whether it was written by a man. Holly, you should be ashamed of yourself.
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on March 24, 2013
I read a lot, and it bothers me greatly when a book obviously has never been edited. The story line has merit, but the grammatical errors and inconsistency in the time lines are down right maddening. I'm not an editor, so I'm not looking for the job, but definitely hope future works by this author are reviewed before being published. If this book was reviewed before publishing, I would be appalled.
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on September 2, 2013
Trade Secrets By Holly Rozner is about that time leading up to the crash in 1987, which I participated in. Remy Masterman joins the exchange in Chicago to find out who killed her Dad in what police termed as an accident. She learns to trade and finds it a tough place to be a novice, a woman, and unconnected to the good old boy network that cheats the customer for their benefit. You get a real up close feel for the fear that the crash caused and the way it humbled or destroyed careers.

I gave the book four stars because I liked the story and the characters were more than two-dimensional. A couple of nits: we were told too many times that Remy was in the Chicago pits to find out about her father's killer(s). And, this woman sure does cry a lot. Are women really that emotional? Warning: there are several sexual encounters and they may be too graphic for some.
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on March 23, 2013
The author obviously knows her way through the machinations of the stock exchange, but the main character's characterisation is somewhat erratic between being assertive and clever and then a blubbering mess. She is in the stock exchange to find some facts about her father's death but never really get around to doing anything about it.
Some of the character's ruminations on their lot in life become exacerbated at times.
The details of the inner workings of the financial world may bore some readers.
The story strayed a bit too often onto the realm of `Mills and Boon' for me....
STILL - she does spin a good yarn and it's worth a read.
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on March 15, 2013
It took me a little while to get into this book since I know nothing about the Exchange, but after reading Trade Secrets, well I still don't know anything about the Exchange, but I did feel the frenetic pace of the Exchange floor, the ins and outs of dirty trades and mostly, the characters were alive. Someone, in their review, said the ending was trite but I don't agree. It was just the ending I wanted and needed. I liked this book...even well enough to post this review! Good Read!!
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