‘Scarlet Secrets’ is the second book in Lani Wendt Young’s new contemporary adult romance series that follows the story of Scarlet, a young Samoan woman who returns to her motherland after years of absence.
Having spent a fabulous and passionate evening with Jackson, Scarlet starts to believe that it might be possible for her to actually survive the Samoan wedding of the year without killing the bride (her sister) or other very important people (the rest of her family) that ought to attend the ceremony. So she puts on a brave face and tries to be a good daughter, an even better sibling, and the best bridesmaid possible.
But, as the big day approaches, the secrets of the past begin to crawl out of the shade into the full Samoan sun. With Jackson’s encouragement, Scarlet decides it’s time to put a stop to the lies and reveal the painful truth.
Yes, she did it again. Lani Wendt Young created another book that is so good, so engaging, so compelling that you simply can’t put it down. But, we’re not surprised, are we? That’s Lani Wendt Young – one of the best writers not only in Pasifika but in the whole wide world.
Those who are familiar with the first instalment of the series may be a little surprised to find out that this once humorous and light-hearted story suddenly got all 50 shades darker. This seems, however, to be typical of the author. If you analyze the famous Telesa trilogy and the first two titles in the Scarlet series, you’ll quickly notice a clearly visible pattern: the first book is an amusing, entertaining introduction that gives you a general idea of what is to follow; the second one tends to be more serious and focused on important and often weighty issues people prefer not to discuss openly; the third one is a powerful culmination that wonderfully sums up the whole tale, keeping you riveted until you reach the end. So, why exactly is this part of Scarlet’s story so dark?
No culture, no country, no nation is perfect. Every single one has its shameful side; something that is ethically wrong and yet deeply rooted in long-established social mores. Lani Wendt Young bravely exposes such disgraceful aspect of the Samoan culture, making it clear that sometimes even the oldest of traditions should…simply evolve. She also explains how cultural inheritance can become more a burden and less a reason for pride. When one has certain responsibilities, obligations, standards to live up to, it is extremely difficult to choose ‘me’ instead of ‘we’. Scarlet fights her own emotions, trying to deal with her painful past without disrespecting the culture she was brought up in. And she fails. One always fails while attempting to reconcile personal beliefs with contrasting cultural values.
Now, although the book is a little more serious, it doesn’t mean it is completely bereft of humour. Scarlet’s sparkling personality really shines through, making even the most disturbing scenes easier to digest. It’s impossible not to have laugh-out-loud moments every few pages, so be prepared for that.
You should also be prepared for hot, steamy, passionate sex. It does exist in this book. Yes, Scarlet gets some. And Jackson gets some. Lani Wendt Young, being a talented writer as she is, managed to paint quite vivid pictures that do not cross the thin line of good taste. And, taking into account Scarlet’s love of food, you can imagine how ‘tasty’ all these descriptions are.
‘Scarlet Secrets’ is a wonderful continuation of the first novel in the series. It’s brilliantly plotted and incredibly well written. It’s amusing, poignant, and thought-provoking at the same time. It’s full of emotions. And it should be a compulsory read. Why? Because it is a real eye-opener that has the power to change people’s minds.
Lani Wendt Young wanted to deliver a certain message. It has been delivered. Loud and clear.