The Secret Year: A Love Story or Not?

Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard

Some people have described The Secret Year as a romance, but I like to ask readers and book clubs: IS this a love story?

The central relationship is intense, secret—and obsessive. Yet beyond the obsession, there is genuine common ground between Colt and Julia. Despite coming from opposite sides of the track, they share certain attitudes and points of view, a certain sense of humor. They see through each other’s defenses. Is that love or something else? And why would two people keep a relationship secret for a year?

Over the course of that year, the pressure of the secrecy increases, and then Julia dies suddenly, leaving Colt alone to deal with all the consequences on top of the grief. When Julia’s diary falls into his hands, he gets to see their relationship from her point of view. We often wish we knew what other people think of us, how they see us—but in reality, that can bring unwelcome surprises, as Colt discovers.

In real life, people often have trouble distinguishing between love and lust, between affection and crush, between neediness and need. Our stories can model what we wish we had—or they can be cautionary tales of what we don’t need. Or they can be a blend, because relationships are seldom simple. People don’t come with “good” or “bad” branded on their foreheads, with “Perfect for me” or, “Stay away!” tattooed across their teeth. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we’re in love. Sometimes we don’t recognize our own love stories until we’re well into the middle of them.

So, The Secret Year is a love story? I like hearing what readers think.

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