The best novels that unravel the secrets at the heart of a marriage

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated by stories about married couples, especially when there are secrets in the marriage. My series The Rannoch Fraser Mysteries follows Mélanie and Malcolm Rannoch, whose marriage began when Mélanie, a French agent, married British agent Malcolm to spy on him during the Napoleonic Wars. As the Rannochs investigate mysteries, they grapple with personal and political betrayals and the secrets between them. 


I wrote...

The Seven Dials Affair

By Tracy Grant,

Book cover of The Seven Dials Affair

What is my book about?

Former spies Malcolm and Mélanie Rannoch have been friends with Bow Street runner Jeremy Roth since they all met in the intrigues of the Peninsular War. Now settled in London, they frequently collaborate. On a chilly night, an urgent summons from Roth takes Malcolm to a tavern in the slums of Seven Dials. He finds Roth standing over the body of a murdered woman. Malcolm offers his assistance with the case, but Roth says Malcolm must investigate alone. When Malcolm asks why, Roth replies—because this is my wife.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The English Wife

Tracy Grant Why did I love this book?

The English Wife had me racing to unravel the secrets at the heart of Annabelle and Bay's marriage. And at the same time I was savoring the fascinating characters and brilliant writing.

The twists and turns of the plot had me gasping, but the biggest mystery was understanding the central characters and their relationship.

By Lauren Willig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The English Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he's the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor house in England, they had a fairy-tale romance in London, they have three-year-old twins on whom they dot, and he's recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and named it Illyria.

Yes, there are rumours that she's having an affair with the architect, but rumours are rumours and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night ball,…


Book cover of Busman's Honeymoon

Tracy Grant Why did I love this book?

I've always been fascinated by stories that show what happens to a couple after the wedding.

As wonderful as it is to watch Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane fall in love and finally marry in the previous books in the series, I find it even more interesting to see them adjust to marriage and the challenges it brings. The final scene in particular has been a huge influence on my own writing.

By Dorothy L. Sayers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Busman's Honeymoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The thirteenth book in Dorothy L Sayers' classic Lord Peter Wimsey series, introduced by crime writer Natasha Cooper - a must-read for fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Margery Allingham's Campion Mysteries.

They plan to have a quiet country honeymoon. Then Lord Peter Wimsey and his bride Harriet Vane find the previous owner's body in the cellar.

Set in a country village seething with secrets and snobbery, this is Dorothy L. Sayers' last full-length detective novel. Variously described as a love story with detective interruptions and a detective story with romantic interruptions, it lives up to both descriptions with style.…


Book cover of And Only to Deceive

Tracy Grant Why did I love this book?

I love this whole series, but what drew me to the first book was the story of a young widow unraveling the secrets of her late husband.

It’s poignant to see her only fall in love with him after he's gone. But at the same time it's fascinating to see her finding herself even as she learns that the man she was married to was far more complicated than she realized.

By Tasha Alexander,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked And Only to Deceive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author Tasha Alexander comes a stunning novel of historical suspense set in Victorian England, meticulously researched and with a twisty plot that involves stolen antiquities, betrayal, and murder

Lady Emily's first mystery . . .

For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was just an easy way to escape her stifling home life and overbearing mother. So when her new husband dies on safari soon after the wedding, she feels little grief. After all, she barely knew the man.

Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different…


Book cover of Dreaming of the Bones

Tracy Grant Why did I love this book?

This is another favorite series, but this book in particular is a pivotal story.

The secrets of Duncan's ex-wife are fascinating in their own right but also in how they impact the relationship of the central series characters, Duncan and Gemma. The mystery is resolved in this book, but the personal revelations ripple through the series in fascinating ways and raise the stakes going forward.

By Deborah Crombie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dreaming of the Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Five years ago, the talented Cambridge poet Lydia Brooks apparently committed suicide. Now Victoria McClellan, is writing a biography about the renowned Lydia. However as she digs deeply into the background of the deceased poet, Vic begins to question whether Lydia actually killed herself or was murdered. She turns to her estranged former spouse, Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid for help.


Book cover of The Scarlet Pimpernel

Tracy Grant Why did I love this book?

This book was a huge influence on the development of my own series.

I love the combination of spy story, action adventure, and a couple with layers of deception between them. Percy and Marguerite are married but neither fully knows who the other is. And for all the swashbuckling adventure, that tension is at the heart of the story. 

By Baroness Emmuska Orczy,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Scarlet Pimpernel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its incredible range of best-loved, essential classics.

"Vaguely she began to wonder ... which of these worldly men round her was the mysterious 'Scarlet Pimpernel,' who held the threads of such daring plots, and the fate of valuable lives in his hands."

In the early days of the bloody French Revolution, fleeing aristocrats are being captured and sent to the guillotine. But the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel - along with his band of English gentlemen - is outwitting the revolutionaries. Known only by his calling card, he arrives in disguise and smuggles the nobles out of…


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Wrightsville Beach

By Suzanne Goodwyn,

Book cover of Wrightsville Beach

Suzanne Goodwyn Author Of Wrightsville Beach

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing all my life, but was never able to find my voice until I had my daughters. It was for them I wrote “Wrightsville Beach”. I wanted to show them what a good relationship should look like and how their decisions make a difference in where they will go. I want my readers to relive that feeling of falling in love and to be sent in unexpected directions, as life so often does to us. I want you to enjoy it so much, you don’t want to put the book down until it’s finished and once you do, to sit and reflect on it, savoring the feeling it has left behind.

Suzanne's book list on smart women trying to figure it all out

What is my book about?

Two years ago, devastated by the sudden death of his older brother, Hank Atwater went on a drinking rampage that ended in his being arrested. Since then, he has been working to rebuild his reputation in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, with little luck. But everything changes after a chance meeting with Jess Wade, a UNCW student studying to be a marine biologist. Hank and Jess feel connected to each other in a way neither has ever felt before.

But when Hank’s past leads to a frightful incident, it ends their relationship. Jess leaves to work on the beach…

Wrightsville Beach

By Suzanne Goodwyn,

What is this book about?

Two years ago, Hank Atwater made a terrible mistake. Devastated by the sudden death of his older brother, Rob, he went on a drinking rampage that ended in his being arrested for aggravated assault. Sober since then, he has been working to rebuild his reputation in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, with little luck.

Working a dead-end delivery job, Hank uses surfing and running to deal with being ostracized as he waits for his probation to end. But everything changes after a chance meeting with Jess Wade, a UNCW student studying to be a marine biologist. Hank and Jess…


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