Book review: Traci Hunter Abramson's 'Royal Secrets' is an entertaining romantic mystery

By Branden Hurst

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, April 1 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"ROYAL SECRETS," by Traci Hunter Abramson, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 288 pages (f)

It's been three years since CIA agent Alora DeSanto found her husband dead and her Paris home destroyed by a terrorist bomb. Still mourning her heavy loss, she seeks a new life for herself and her two young sons.

Alora accepts a job offer from her friend and fellow agent Janessa Rogers, who is engaged to marry Prince Garrett of Meridia. As Janessa's personal assistant, Alora takes up residence in the royal chateau in Bellamo, where Prince Stefano is recovering from a possible assassination attempt and reeling from some life-shattering news of his own.

Their paths repeatedly cross, and Alora and Stefano are surprised by a budding attraction that draws them together in a friendship. But as their hesitant attraction evolves into romance, royal secrets plunge them into plots of espionage and blackmail that threaten all they hold dear — including each other. And when enemies arise to crush the Meridian monarchy, Alora must confront fears that destroyed her past before they destroy her future.

Traci Hunter Abramson, originally from Arizona, is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a former CIA employee. Since leaving the CIA, Abramson has written several novels, including a previous book about the Meridian monarchy, "Royal Target." Her experience with the CIA blends very well into her writing, creating very believable characters and situations.

While the book is technically a mystery novel, this element definitely takes a back seat for a good portion of the story while Abramson focuses on the main characters' developing relationships and only surfaces periodically as she builds momentum. Readers may feel a bit of dissapointment if they were hoping for a more action-packed novel. However, Abramson weaves both of these genres into the story in a way that adds depth with a hint of intrigue.

Abramson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, draws upon her religion to develop many of the characters in the book who are Mormon, as well as the effect that this has on characters who aren't LDS. These elements will be familiar and at times amusing to Mormon readers, but they may be a bit detracting to a broader audience.

"Royal Secrets" is a well-written, believable story that will not disappoint Abramson fans and introduce her to a new audience of readers as well.

Branden Hurst is a proud father of four who grew up outside of Utah. He has worked in the IT industry for over 14 years, but in his free time enjoys sharing in wholesome activities with his family and

working on genealogy.

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