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It is from this direction that the ringing comes, a sweet, gentle bell.  Slowly the bicycle comes into view and, as the rider’s distinctive shape registers, my heart fills.  “Jared!” I shout, but he does not see me as he nears.  Green eyes fixed, he pedals rapidly on a straight trajectory forward, his open black gown flapping in the breeze.  He does not slow or swerve, and for a moment I fear I will be struck.  Flinching, I close my eyes.  Bike and rider pass through me, as though I am not there.  I spin around quickly, but his retreating image fades like dust and, before I can blink, he is gone.

(from A Hidden Affair, pages 89-90 in the ARC)

Pam Jenoff’s latest novel, A Hidden Affair, is the follow up to Almost Home (read my review), which followed Jordan Weiss, an American Foreign Service Officer, to London, where she worked on a money laundering case involving the Albanian mob and learned that the accidental death of her college boyfriend, Jared, may not have been an accident and may have been tied to his dissertation on the escape of Nazi war criminals following World War II.  Keep in mind that this is a sequel, so my review might touch upon something you don’t want to know about the first book if you haven’t read it yet.

In A Hidden Affair, Jordan has left her position with the State Department as a diplomat/secret agent in search of her college boyfriend, Jared, who may be alive.  She travels to his last known address in Monaco, not sure what she’ll find but knowing that she wants some answers.  Jordan’s world fell apart when Jared drowned, and she’s spent much of the last decade trying not to think about the past and avoiding new relationships.

The Nazis make a reappearance in A Hidden Affair, (well, sort of, as this novel takes place in the present) this time connected to a wine counterfeiting scheme involving a 1943 vintage from a vineyard owned by Jews.  The real wine was hidden by the Resistance, and a woman connected to Jared may know where it is now.  It is Nicole’s connection to the wine that has Ari, a private investigator with many secrets, searching for her, and Jordan is pursuing her to find Jared.  Reluctantly, Jordan agrees to team up with Ari, and her attraction to him causes much confusion with regard to her feelings for Jared — the only man she’s ever loved.

As in Almost Home, Jordan is impulsive and makes foolish decisions that endanger herself and others, but these screw ups create much tension and action.  Jordan is more emotional this time around, with good reason, so when she enters a risky situation unarmed, it sort of makes sense because she’s so focused on finding and confronting Jared.  But A Hidden Affair isn’t about rekindling past relationships or even exploring new ones.  It’s about Jordan growing up and learning to live again, and Jenoff does a great job showing the evolution of the character.

Once again, Jenoff has told an interesting story with a World War II connection, intriguing characters, and plenty of action.  None of the revelations in A Hidden Affair were surprising, but I was satisfied with the paths the story took and how it ended.  The connection between the Nazis and wine was a new one for me, and I love how there’s always something new to learn about the war.  I’ve read and enjoyed all of Jenoff’s novels, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her in the future.

Disclosure: I received a copy of A Hidden Affair from Atria Books for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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