*Mild spoilers (from Spirit)
This series, guys, I love it so much! I've literally read the first four books all in the same year (Michael's won't even be out for a long time), and I'm so glad I gave Storm a chance. Because it brought me the Merrick brothers, Hunter, and their feisty heroines. The stories were interwoven with supernatural elements. Intense action and gripping fights. Heartbreaking moments. Swoon-worthy scenes. The Elemental series is one of my favorites. EVER. I can't get enough of these books and their characters, from the strong familial bond to the heart-stopping action. I seriously don't know what I'll do when I read Michael's story, the last one in this series. How will I ever let these books go? Hell, how will I ever let these amazing and wonderful characters go?
Rating: 4.5 Stars!
Totally not a fan of this cover. Supposedly, the models are Quinn and Tyler. However, I miss my Merricks on the cover! And the original model for Nick and Gabriel will forever be the guy I picture in my mind as the twins. And I'm no expert on art design, but this color scheme just does not go with the others. However, as much as I mildly dislike the cover, it's not the reason this is only getting 4.5 stars and not a perfect score. Everything about this story was near perfection, except for two things: Quinn and less action.
Now, I've never been a fan of Quinn. She's selfish, stubborn, bitchy, and plays the part of the self-absorbed cheerleader well. But in Secret, we see why she has that strong-willed and demanding personality. We understand why she has all of those insecurities and why she's always on the defense. Why she has that kind of attitude toward life. Her home life sucks; she's never been with a good guy who's treated her right (well, except Nick). She's never considered herself worthy, never allowed herself to believe that she's special. It takes a long time (almost too long) and a pushy and demanding Tyler for her to realize that she has people who love her, that she's wanted, that she's accepted. But it was just too much sometimes; her constant whining and self-absorbed attitude turned me off. Her constant feeling of insecurity and her constant misjudging of people's motives just made me not feel sorry for her.
And, in this book, there was a lot less action surrounding the Guides and the Elementals. Much of the story revolves around the two developing relationships: the one between Adam and Nick and the one between Quinn and Tyler. But, I was sort of missing that element of danger, that constant looking over the shoulder. The prologue even sets the book up for some intense action, but it was sorely underrepresented. Nothing involving the fight between the Guides and the Merricks showed up in this story until practically the very end. That was scary and intense! Other than a few conversations revolving around the fire at the carnival and the fact that Tyler has been keeping a secret too, the Elements weren't a huge part of this book.
But it was no less intense! It may not have had many fight scenes or the threat of danger, but it did have a lot of richly intense moments between the characters. From the rocky, tentative relationship between Adam and Nick to the scenes between the twins, it had a lot of gut-wrenching moments. And most of them involved Nick and his secret. Oh, my poor Nick. This kid, for most of the book, believed that none of his brothers would be happy for him. That they'd kick him out in the blink of eye, that they'd be disappointed. But most of all, he feared their resentment. But he was tired of being the dependable one, the good one. So many expectations placed on him that Nick started unraveling. First, it was his feelings for Adam. Second, it was school. Third, it was his relationship with Gabriel. Everything felt like pressure being placed on his chest, leaving him unable to breathe, unable to feel safe. He was suffocating, trapped in a world of secrets and lies and never-ending pressure. I said it when I read Breathless that I couldn't wait to see Nick Merrick unravel. He was a mysterious character; no one ever really knew him. He kept up appearances well, always said yes because he didn't want to disappoint anyone. But no one ever asked Nick what he wanted. No one ever pushed him for the truth. Until Adam.
I thought Brigid Kemmerer handled the sensitive subject of Nick's sexuality with extreme care. It felt real and genuine: Nick's struggles, his insecurities. His fears. Nick Merrick is one of those good guys who never thinks about himself. It's always about the people he loves. The people who depend on him. His friends, his family. But he's finally doing something different with his life, finally acknowledging a secret he's kept for a long time. And with Adam, he's able to finally be himself. But Nick still deals with that fear and insecurity, and he makes mistakes in how he handles it.
"You know what sucks about sorry? It's the worst word in the world. Because it always happens after you fuck up something good." -AdamAnd boy, were there a lot of apologies and I'm sorrys being thrown around! So much happens in this book, so many moments that make you think that both the characters were being so stupid in their insecurities. So many moments that twist your heart into knots, wondering if all will be forgiven. Wondering if the characters will be okay in the end. The most difficult part while reading this story, for me, was the unraveling relationship between Gabriel and Nick. I hated it! God, these twins are my favorites. Their relationship is incredibly special, a strong and unbreakable bond. And I felt sorry for both of them. Nick, for thinking he had to keep his secret for fear Gabriel would think less of him. Gabriel, for Nick not giving him a chance. For God's sake, I was crying during their talk at the audition! And Michael had me tearing up when he was telling Nick about how he and Gabriel never wanted to be separated and somehow knew when the other needed him. This family dynamic, not just with the twins, but with the brothers and Hunter, is so special. So amazing to read about. But because of Nick's secrets and lies, I was missing that familial bond. Not one of the other Merricks, or even Hunter, were central to this story. Nick not knowing how they'd react had him stepping back from his brothers a lot. I knew they would never think any less of Nick, and I'm so sorry he had even thought that way. Man, these boys and their conversations with each other always make me feel mushy inside. *tears up* Seriously, I love them so much. <3
I never knew what to think of Tyler! I never knew if he was a good guy or a bad guy. I wasn't entirely sure, and that made his and Quinn's relationship feel different for me. I never knew what to expect between them, or what to expect from Tyler.
"Sometimes when a fight has been going on for a long time, it stops being about who's right and who's wrong, and it starts being about who can bury the hatchet first." -MichaelI do believe Michael's right. Tyler somehow proved to me that he has redeemable qualities, that he had this misguided sense of bitterness and resentment toward the Merricks. It's possible that the Merricks and Tyler have all misjudged each other and have all been too focused on the past. And that ending was just... whoa! Crazy. I can't wait to see how all of this ends with Michael's book! Will they ever be safe from the Guides?
Brigid Kemmerer's writing style is always able to draw me in. The way she weaves together the story-line, the way she personalizes her characters. They're always unique and always end up going through major development. These books have supernatural elements, but they take second place to the characters and their flaws. Their struggles. Their mistakes. The characters in these books never act like they're in high school, either (well, maybe except for Quinn and sometimes Gabriel). They have a maturity about them that I miss in a lot of young adult novels. But they're still teenagers, and that's why their insecurities and problems never seem like just another subplot. They're central to how the characters act and how they develop as the novels go on. The author manages to handle these sensitive subjects with such care and attention. And I love how she handled the sensitive issue of Nick's sexuality, with him and with his family members. I appreciated so much that she was not afraid to delve deep. And I love how she managed to make Tyler seem like a good "villain." I loved Secret, but I hope there's more supernatural elements and more action in the next one. This series has become one of my favorites, and I don't know what I'll do when it ends.