Cover image for Dark secret
Dark secret
Bowman, Elizabeth Atkins.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 2000.
Physical Description:
429 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the irresistible tradition of Eileen Goudge, Dark Secret is a compelling page-turner that tests the family bond between two very different sisters -- and exposes a lifetime of deception.Karen Bradley has not seen her sister in years, not since Sharlene ran off to New York to escape the poverty and shame she felt living as a mixed-race child in the slums of Detroit. Karen, a devoted daughter, is horrified to learn that her mother is dying of a rare illness -- and only Sharlene can save her.Now calling herself Camille -- and passing as a white woman orphaned as a child -- Sharlene has remade her life -- and her past. Engaged to a rich and powerful Southern aristocrat who adores her, Camille has everything she wanted: money, prestige, and a law career. All her hopes for the future -- and the wedding that will seal her new life -- depend on her hidden past remaining hidden. But will the price of her new life be her mother's early death?Or will Karen expose her sister's Dark Secret?

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Bowman's saga of two wildly different sisters is a perfect read-to-relax novel, with just the right amount of political spice to balance the melodrama. Camille is determined to escape her dark secret of a biracial, poverty-stricken Detroit childhood. To that end, the former "ghost chile" has reinvented herself as a white New York orphan with money, a law career, and fianceJeff Stone, son of Republican U.S. senator Monty Stone, tobacco fortune heir and proverbial son of the segregationist South. Meanwhile, Camille's sister, Karen, is struggling with a family business back home only to learn that Mama's kidneys have failed as a result of diabetes, and--yes--only Camille, born Sharlene, can save her. Can Karen locate this lost sister, forcing her to reveal her secret past? So deliciously convoluted is Bowman's tale, filled as it is with schemers, liars, and villains who all but twirl their mustaches (and that's just the women!), readers will have a hard time tearing themselves away. --Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Packed to bursting with steamy romantic intrigue, fatal illness, race and class strife, murder, kidnapping, rape and high-level politics, Bowman's (White Chocolate) hyperventilating contemporary drama gallops from one over-the-top showdown to the next as the protagonist, Camille Morgan, a 28-year-old mixed-race woman from Detroit, tries to "pass" as white and remake her life. After a painful childhood as the unwanted pale child in a dark-skinned family, Sharlene Bradley changes her name, goes to law school and lands Southern blueblood Jefferson Stone as a beau. Jeff's parents, Sen. Montgomery Stone and his wife, Millie, forbid his marriage to a Yankee until Camille fakes a pregnancy and takes up residence at White Pines, the family's Virginia plantation. Racist Senator Stone is caught up in a sexual harassment hearing and a bid for the presidential nomination, and Millie has her own secret hidden away in the attic, which diverts attention from Camille's past. Meanwhile, Camille's long-estranged sister, Karen, has learned their mother will die without a kidney transplant and is determined to track down Camille as a donor. Blackmailed by Karen, who takes a job as the senator's press secretary, and hunted by a reporter hot on her trail, Camille harbors secrets that are bound to be revealed, but by the time they are she'll be ready to escape her abusive husband's dysfunctional family. Bowman chops her novel up into 137 short chapters, giving each scene little depth. Her characters often speak in platitudes, such as "She'll join this family when hell freezes over," while Senator Stone addresses every woman as "sugar" and Millie says little except "gracious." Bowman's premise is provocative, but her characters get lost in the scramble. Agent, Susan Crawford. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved