Title: Secret (Elemental #4)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Pub. Date: January 28, 2014 (today!)
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (thank you, Kensington!)
Summary: Nowhere is safe. Not even home…
Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.
Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown. Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street. Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—-or he’ll lose his family. Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.
Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.
There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.
Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?
Genre: YA, Paranormal
“Are you aware that when people dump their problems on you, you don’t actually have to solve them by yourself?”
Elemental is a series I read on a whim – I hadn’t been interested in it at all, but saw a copy of Storm at work and wanted to see what all the fuss was about – and it turned out to be one of the best reading decisions I’ve ever made. Isn’t it funny how things like that work out? A series I had originally ignored wound up becoming one of my all-time favorites. Brigid Kemmerer is a master at what she does: the action and quick pace make these books one-sitting reads despite their length. Not to mention there are five – now SIX (seven??) – boys to go all swoony over! Since seeing the error of my ways I have gone to recommend these books to multiple friends, coworkers, and customers and I’ve heard nothing but good things in return!
While Secret is very much Nick’s story, Quinn is also featured heavily. I have to admit I’ve never been a big fan of Quinn’s character, but getting her full story completely changed my tune. An absolutely terrible home life (abusive, alcoholic mother and a junkie brother) has left her a damaged shell of a girl. She runs to any boy who gives her the time of day – only to be expected to give in return. Quinn accepts this as normal, that this is how her life is and what love is. Nick was the first boy to care about her and when she discovers he’s gay, she can’t handle it. Of course the one good thing she has is all a lie. She clings to their pretend relationship (to keep his secret from his brothers, Nick asked Quinn to keep up appearances), blindly believing Nick’s kisses mean something they don’t.
Everything changes when Tyler enters the picture. Suddenly there’s a boy who allows her to crash in his apartment and doesn’t expect anything in return. Not even when she all but throws herself at him. This is an entirely new concept for Quinn and she has no idea how to react. Tyler seems to genuinely care about her. He listens to her worries and fears. He eats Mexican food with her on the roof. The only problem? He’s the Merricks’ sworn enemy.
Throughout Secret Nick battles with himself. He wants to finally come out to his brothers, but he’s terrified. This isn’t a sitcom – everything isn’t sunshine and roses. Nick’s fear and confusion seems 100% real and I would love to see more of this in YA. Nick’s leading a double life: he’s hiding his evenings and outings with Adam while continuing to put on a show with Quinn for the rest of the world. Nick and Gabriel have a reputation for being playboys – Nick can’t possibly admit he likes guys. He also can’t hold onto this secret any longer. It’s tearing him up inside that he’s hiding such a huge part of himself from his brothers (especially his twin) and he becomes slightly paranoid. Suddenly everything they say can be mistaken – do they know? I mean, of course they know, right? Hunter is currently rooming with Nick; will he be disgusted at the thought of his roommate being into guys? How much longer until Michael finally has had enough and kicks him out of the house? My heart broke multiple times for Nick and my love for this family grew ten times over.
Although there is plenty of action in Secret, it’s far more character-driven. Secret is all about coming to terms – not only with who you are, but also your past, present, and future. Your lot in life doesn’t have to define you. Sometimes the only way to live in the present is to move on from the past – Tyler in particular gets a heavy dose of this. These characters have been through a lot, but they’ve managed to pull through only to discover their battle isn’t over just yet. Now Quinn knows about Elementals and has witnessed firsthand what these boys (and Becca) are capable of.
Since day one Michael Merrick has been my favorite. The next book is his story and while I’m ridiculously excited, the fifth book is also the last and I’m nowhere near ready to say goodbye. Things are falling into place and a war is on the horizon. Nick’s relationship with Gabriel has certainly been tested and is still on the mend. How will Quinn’s new knowledge come into play? There’s SO MUCH that’s at stake and so many things that are about to happen. If you still haven’t read these books, don’t be like me. Don’t ignore this series. Do yourself a favor and head to your library. Head to your bookstore and buy the whole set. There’s truly something in this series for everyone: romance, action, paranormal elements, and – my favorite – a massive amount of character depth. Brigid Kemmerer seriously does a number on these boys (and girls!) and they definitely aren’t the same characters they were in the first book.
I honestly cannot recommend these books enough. I love them. I absolutely love them and I’m going to be so sad when the series ends this summer.