Secretly - out now and excerpt!

Today is the day: Secretly, Transformation Series Book 2, makes its way into the world in ebook and paperback formats. 🎉🥳

Secretly - out now and excerpt!
Secretly by Talya Blaine out now and excerpt

Today is the day: Secretly, Transformation Series Book 2, makes its way into the world in ebook and paperback formats. 🎉🥳

You can find a list of retailers for Secretly in ebook and paperback at Books2Read.

Reviewers: Review copies of Secretly are available through BookSirens and NetGalley (registration/membership required). You can also still get a Silently (Book 1) ARC on both platforms if you haven't read it yet. The Transformation Series books should be read in order.

Have you read Secretly? I hope you'll consider leaving an honest review on your preferred retailer or book review site. Reviews really do make a difference – to authors and readers alike. (Here's why.)

Secretly synopsis

Unquenchable chemistry. The rare gift of a second chance. Choices that threaten their future.

Quinn and Jonathan’s sensual journey continues as sizzling tension tests their “friends for now” pact.

After a desperate call interrupts a failed platonic dinner—and a water main break renders Quinn homeless—she’s left with little choice: Take Jonathan up on his just-friends-no-benefits offer to share his apartment.

But getting closer? A romantic relationship? Not an option. Even after that one impulsive and magical but heartbreaking kiss.

Damn, that kiss. It tells Jonathan all he needs to know about Quinn’s feelings and only deepens his desire to build a life with her. Until her defensive walls throw him back into reality. The reality in which his sweet gig as Spice of Life’s travel show host is on the line. The reality in which he can’t fully accept Quinn’s involvement at Octavia’s dungeon. The reality in which the woman he adores is still grieving—and not ready to hear the three words he needs to say.

The second novel in the Transformation Series, Secretly turns up the heat: A secret trip to a Parisian chateau dungeon, a last-minute wedding to plan, a bold, perhaps impulsive, career decision. Quinn and Jonathan each make choices that alter the course of their lives. Can they forge a shared future?

A story about discovery and desire, friendship and boundaries, freedom and risk. About the delicate balance between intimacy and autonomy. About the struggle to love again and how we choose to live the second chapter of our lives.

Friends to lovers, slow burn, second chance, fish out of water—readers will click with the themes in this edgy contemporary romance.

  • Alternating hero-heroine, third-person point of view
  • Sexy beta hero and main characters in their 40s
  • Intense, intimate, emotional
  • Mature themes, past cheating, strong language, and dungeon and super-steamy bedroom scenes.

Secretly excerpt

Want to read a sample of Secretly?

Click the down arrow to the right => for an excerpt

The private elevator let Quinn off in the center of the light, airy landing. A gleaming gray floor and soaring windows encircled the three hundred sixty-degree entry to Jonathan’s penthouse. Across from the elevator the sweeping gallery narrowed, forming a generous hallway into the apartment, no front door required.

The scent of coconut and sautéing garlic drew her in. A shimmer of anticipation fluttered as she slipped off her ballet flats and left them under the steel console table. Minimalist and masculine.

It’s just dinner.

No reason to feel butterflies. They were friends; they would no doubt enjoy each other’s company over a home-cooked meal. Good conversation, his dry, self-deprecating sense of humor, the kind, easy-going way he had about him.

Nothing was going to happen tonight. To ensure it, she had not shaved her legs. At least not higher than the spot by her ankle where the hem of her white jeans hit.

Partial-leg stubble, for some strange reason, seemed worse than whole-leg stubble, and it offered added insurance. Nothing was going to happen.

The painted concrete floor was cool against her bare feet. “Come right in when you get here—we’ll find each other,” he had texted with a winking emoji just as her train left the eastern Long Island station a couple of hours ago.

The apartment was quiet except for noise from the kitchen—the click-click-click of a gas burner igniting, a lid clanging against a pot, the seal of the refrigerator door breaking as he opened it.

Her mind flashed back to their time on the movie set, how he always seemed surrounded by noise. You could hear the TV or music coming from his trailer, even when he wasn’t there. Her impression at the time was that he felt alone.

“Hellooo,” she called.

“Hey.” From the warmth in that one word, she could already picture the sparkle in his eyes, the crinkled skin at their corners when he smiled. “In here.”

“Mmm, I’ll just follow the wonderful smells.” The scent of chili peppers tickled her nostrils. The startup of the exhaust fan drowned out the crackle of hot oil.

In the kitchen, he was standing by the stove, a wide gas range with double ovens—it was obvious he loved to cook. He held a whisk in one hand and the rim of a hammered copper mixing bowl against his white apron in the other.

The light blue button-down shirt set off the warm brown of his eyes. The sleeves were rolled, revealing the curls on his forearms, his jeans faded in all the right places, she just happened to notice once he put down the bowl and came around the island to give her a quick—regrettably quick—hug.

He gestured to a stool in front of the granite countertop. “Have a seat. Can I get you a glass of wine?”

“Please.” She sat facing the monster stove while he uncorked a sweating bottle of white and poured her a glass.

A second later, the oven timer beeped, and he hurried to tend to it. As she took a sip of the peppery wine, she watched him work. Capable, confident. His placid expression fit a man at home in his kitchen.
“So this is what you do in the daylight hours?” she teased, an unplanned note of flirtation sneaking in.

His laugh was rich, an instant reward.

The skin around his eyes bunched with his smile, and he looked at her without lifting his head. A shiver snaked its way down her body.

He raised a finger to signal he had to take care of one more thing. A few deft movements that she couldn’t see at the range and he turned, wiped his hands on the apron, and took it off.

“This needs to simmer a few minutes. Let’s get out of here.”

He picked up his half-full glass from the island and gestured toward the French doors at the other side of the open living area.

On the way out, she left her purse on the coffee table in front of the sofa. Running the length of the opposite wall was a long bookshelf that stretched all the way to the high ceiling. A wooden library ladder leaned against an upper shelf. She quickly scanned his collection of books: shelf after shelf of travel guides, art history, politics, world history, cookbooks, fiction.

And then her eyes landed on a section of familiar spines. The typography, the progression in hue from one to the next told her he owned all of her books.

Except for the last one, which she, too, lacked.

He must have read her mind. “I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.”
A sinking feeling tugged in her chest. “I’m afraid it might be a long wait. I’m officially on hiatus.” Officially, at least as far as she was concerned.

“No. Why?”

She turned and looked up at him. “I still haven’t been able to write anything.”

“That’s understandable. Won’t Devon work with you on the deadline?”
“They have already. I mean, I really haven’t been able to come up with anything that feels worth writing about. But . . . can we not go there tonight?”

“We don’t have to.”

“I don’t mean to shut you down. It’s just that some things I feel ready to tackle and others, not so much yet.” Like you.

In the month since she told Leigh she would not deliver a next book, she had not once regretted her decision. Yes, sometimes she missed writing, but if she were honest, what she felt more was guilt.

Guilt that she was shirking obligation, guilt that she should write rather than that she was driven to it, like she used to be, the scenes in her mind compelling her to tell the story, to capture it in words.

“I asked Leigh to figure out how to cancel the publishing contract. I’ll give back the money. It’s just,”—she touched her chest—“there’s nothing there, you know?”

“I understand, I do. And when the time’s right, you’ll come back to it. I’m confident of that—you’re an amazing writer.” He gave her shoulder a quick, supportive squeeze. “So, what’s in the ready-to-tackle category?”

“Okay, maybe ‘ready’ was ambitious.” She rubbed the warm hand on her shoulder. “But I do have news.”

“Oh? Tell me.”

“I’m moving. In two weeks.”

“Wow. That’s big.” Concern flashed across his face. “You said you were thinking of selling, but that’s like lightning fast.”

“Right? Crazy-fast. I called a neighbor who’s a real estate agent to talk about the process. Turns out a colleague in her office had a client looking in the area but couldn’t find what they wanted. I’m not exaggerating—within twenty-four hours of seeing the house, they made an offer, above where we would have priced it. The only catch is, I have to be out before I close on the new place.”

“Where’s the new place?” He rubbed the back of his neck.

“I found this small restored farmhouse in the Hudson Valley. As I told Leigh, I’ll still be close enough for regular lunches.” Noting the worry in his eyes, she added, “and dinners. I’m trying to see the fact that it’s happening so quickly as a good sign. It also lowers the risk of cold feet.” 

His eyes narrowed, assessing. “Do you have cold feet?”

“Moving is the right thing, money-wise and memory-wise. And the new place is adorable. You’ll have to see it.”

“I want to.” As they reached the wall of floor-to-ceiling glass, he opened one of the two sets of doors and gestured for her to go first, onto the expansive, sunny terrace in the sky. 

Together, they walked to the railing and set their drinks on the narrow wood balustrade. For a few silent moments, they stood side by side at the waist-high glass, looking out over the unobstructed view of the city. 

Standing here next to him reminded her of the night of Leigh’s well-intended invasion, the night the two of them stood at her kitchen window and looked out over the dark ocean.It was easy for them to be quiet together.

“The faster I move out,” she continued without turning to face him, “the faster new people can enjoy it like we did.” She shrugged a shoulder. “At least that’s the positive spin I’m putting on it.”

He nodded, lifting his wineglass to take a sip. “It’s a great house.”

“It is. It was.” A twinge of sadness nudged her to change the subject. 

You have a great place. This view is incredible. It feels like a different world up here.”

He chuckled, but those deep brown eyes dimmed. “It does feel that way sometimes.”

“What do you mean? Removed? Isolated?” 

He nodded. Lonely, she realized. His gaze moved back to the city stretched out before them, and she didn’t press. 

He turned toward her again as if he were about to say more, but the cooking timer beeped faintly from inside. “Have a seat.” He gestured to the rattan sectional. A tray on the table in front of it held two stacked bowls and shiny silverware rolled in cloth napkins. “You can set the table.” The sparkle came back to his eyes when he smiled. “Be right back.”

A few minutes later, he returned carrying another tray and set it down. In one ceramic bowl was fluffy, steaming white rice. When he took the lid off the other, the aroma of seafood and cilantro filled the evening air. She used to love seafood. “It smells fantastic.” 


“I am now.” Food had been an afterthought the past fifteen months, something she considered mostly when dizziness struck or her stomach gurgled. Nothing tasted like it used to. Flavors had lost their vibrancy, reduced to black and white. 

He topped off their wineglasses and sat down next to her, spooned rice into their bowls, and bathed it with a ladleful of creamy stew studded with pink shrimp and bright green herbs. 

“It’s moqueca de camarão. It’ll be in the upcoming Brazil episode. Bom proveito. Enjoy.” 

Bom proveito,” she repeated, scooping both rice and stew onto her spoon. The flavors exploded in her mouth. “It tastes fantastic.”

He took a bite slowly and evaluated. “You like it?” 

Her taste buds sprung to life, along with her appetite. “I do. The lime, coconut, the heat . . . it’s a perfect mix.” 

She pictured him learning how to make the dish on his trip. He would accompany the person hosting him as they shopped in a tropical market, then chopped cilantro or deveined shrimp and prepared the meal in his local host’s home kitchen. “When’s the episode going to air?”

“Next week. Why, are you planning to watch?” His smile was playful.

“I might. If I’m not too busy with, you know, very important things,” she played back. “I know the host.”

“I’m sorry.” He wrinkled his brow, feigning concern. “I’ve heard he can be an ass.”

“Don’t believe everything you hear. Besides, I like to form my own opinions.” 

He patted her knee, two platonic pats, although she still felt the tingling charge along her skin through the napkin and her jeans.

They ate slowly and talked, and after a while both of them filled their bowls with a second helping. Finally she sat back, unable to eat another bite, and he piled their dishes onto the tray.

She reached for it to carry inside. “Please, let me help.”

“I’ve got it,” he said. “Sit and relax.”

As the low evening sun blazed hot from the west, rain clouds drifted from the south. He looked at the sky. “Actually, why don’t you come inside and have a seat on the couch while I call the producers to lodge a complaint—I specifically asked them to arrange nice weather for tonight, but it looks like it might rain.”

She giggled and noticed his chest rise and fall, a quick breath. Had he felt butterflies about tonight, like she had?

She followed him in and sat on the sofa, modern but comfortable, while he worked in the kitchen. “Are you sure I can’t do anything?” She hated feeling useless.

He looked up at her across the space. “I’m sure. You’re buying and selling real estate—you should take every opportunity to relax while you can.”

A few minutes later, silverware clinked as he came toward her with the tray again. This time it held a small, red enamel pot, its wooden knob partially covered with a dishtowel. “Dessert’s a surprise. Close your eyes.”

The thought that immediately popped to mind, she should not have had it. What if I don’t? Will you blindfold me?

Advance praise

🏆 Quarter-finalist, 2022 Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize:

"The chemistry between Quinn and Jonathan runs the show, but the novel digs into deeper issues, too..."
"Hot and deliciously steamy, Secretly will tantalize and captivate readers."

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