Most of One Last Secret by Adele Parks unfolds in second person… our narrator Dora talking to us. The readers. Occasionally Parks slips out of the ‘explanatory’ style of prose she kicks off with, into more first person musings, but as a fan of second person narration I liked the intimacy it offers. It’s particularly important here as Dora is an escort and conscious ‘we’ may judge her for that. She doesn’t apologise or even explain her choice of career, rather asks that we accept that without judgement or pity. And it’s easy to do as Dora is likeable and goes about her business as just that… her business. Her job.One Last Secret
by Adele Parks
Published by Harlequin Australia: HQ Fiction, MIRA
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
One last client
A week at a beautiful chateau in the south of France—it should be a straightforward final job for Dora. She’s a smart, stunning and discreet escort, and Daniel has paid for her services before. This time, all she has to do is to convince the assembled guests that she is his girlfriend. Dora is used to playing roles and being whatever men want her to be. It’s all about putting on a front.
One last chance
It will be a last, luxurious look at how the other half lives before Dora turns her back on the escort world and all its dangers. She has found someone she loves and trusts. With him, she can escape the life she’s trapped in. But when Dora arrives at the chateau, it quickly becomes obvious that nothing is what it seems…
One last secret
Dora finds herself face-to-face with a man she has never forgotten, the one man who really knows her. And as old secrets surface, it becomes terrifyingly apparent that one last secret could cost Dora her life…
I’m not judge-y about sex work. A friend of mine from Uni worked as an ‘escort’ for a while and I visited her workplace and met some of her colleagues. I reviewed TJ Hamilton’s Buying Thyme for the Styling You blog several years ago and talked about the very pragmatic (and quite cynical) way the lead character (a sex worker) talked about her job.
Here Dora’s told us of her manager Elspeth, who books clients and the screening process… so she’s at ease about her work, even referencing the ‘workplace health and safety’ measures in place. It’s a surprise then when she’s beaten and threatened by a client. So when she’s offered a lifeline by her best friend, and she decides the time is right to get out of the industry.
However… she’s (far too easily!!!) coaxed into one last gig for a regular customer and it’s then her life is threatened.
I very much liked Dora. And the relationship with her bestie Evan. I did find it a bit contrived that they were easily able to go to ‘friends only and nothing more’ into an intimate relationship… after her having ruled it out for so long and seemingly feeling no attraction for him.
I also didn’t quite get how easily she succumbed to the ‘final gig’. How Elspeth kinda handed her over on a platter, despite obviously knowing what it meant (and why there was no mention of her later!), not to mention Dora’s naiveté in accepting the job and then acquiescing when things got a bit weird in France.
And then there’s the very very long game we discover someone is playing.
I felt Parks perhaps introduced some of Dora’s backstory a little late in the piece but in retrospect it’s well-timed to surprise readers. And then of course the next reveal means everything makes sense. Eventually.
Despite some of those contrivances I enjoyed this novel and read it in a sitting, finding it the perfect Saturday night bathtime read!
One Last Secret by Adele Parks was published in Australia by HQ Fiction and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.