Review: The Second Man, by Emelle Gamble 9


4.5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:



Emelle Gamble’s romantic suspense novel The Second Manstarts a bit slower than the typical contemporary romance novel, leaning toward suspense timing and traditions. There is no shortage of romance, but the heroine, Jill Ferrell, must first carefully tread through a minefield of lies and intrigue to determine which of the love interests and classmates—if any—she can trust.
Gamble writes “the man who killed Ben Pierce” as a separate character from the suspects in order to keep the reader guessing his identity with each clue. My inner conspiracy theorist reveled in all the foreshadowing and misdirects, and I appreciated the light touch Gamble used with her hints so as not to insult the reader’s intelligence.
Jill Ferrell is immediately inundated with difficult situations and multiple shocking events, some even unrelated to the mystery at the heart of this book. Gamble draws her reader into this vortex along with the heroine, who has to push forward to sort through secrets and lies to find the truth. Eventually, the heroine and reader alike are so battered by the rapid succession of events that there is a certain detachment, almost like a state of shock. This, along with Santa Barbara’s laidback beach vibes and the significant European ties woven throughout the plot, gives the tone a darkly dreamy quality. It reminds me of a lighter version of edgy Scandinavian The Killing or BBC procedural Broadchurch.
While Jill listens to her compassionate heart and forgiving nature, the innate caution of a cop’s daughter makes her hesitant to commit fully while the mystery is still unfolding. You feel her confusion and determination not to hurt anyone with her actions, including herself. Gamble admirably captures this without making Jill seem cold or indecisive. The romance is compelling, but not described in graphic detail. The romantic resolution, while satisfying, is a little abrupt. I would have loved just a few more pages for this ending to develop. Overall, this is an enjoyable and intelligent read.
Reviewed by Voracious Reader

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.


Jill Farrell’s college reunion is coming up, but she wants no part of it. The man she once loved, Swedish exchange student Max Kallstrom, is rumored to be attending, but that doesn’t tempt her as Max disappeared from her life the night before the graduation, and has never been heard from since.

When her ex-husband, Andrew Denton, knocks on her door and announces he wants to make nice, and, “oh, by the way, one of their class alumni might be a murderer”, Jill’s resolve to avoid the event hardens.

Jill shuts Andrew’s efforts to reconnect down, and tries to put Max out of her mind.
And that’s that, until a second man knocks on her door, and the emotions of a time long ago overtakes her. Max Kallstrom tells Jill she’s the reason he has come to California. He asks her to please let him explain why she hasn’t heard from him for fifteen long years.

She’s willing to listen to what he has to say, but immediately realizes that her memories must guide her through a wrenching and dangerous few days. While her heart remembers a handsome young lover, she and her classmates are all different people now, and the reality of a murdered friend proves she can’t trust everyone.

What’s not so clear is if she should trust anyone . . . especially Max Kallstrom.



Jill stared at her ex.

Andrew was much the same, auburn hair and icy blue eyes, but somehow completely changed from the man she last saw over a decade ago. He wore an expensive, dark suit, like an attorney, and any appearance of youth was now gone. He was lean and intense, the man behind the eyes more complicated than she remembered.

When they were together, he had worn his hair short around his neck and ears. It was longer now, combed straight back and gelled. There was a scar at his right temple, small and flat, and perfectly round.

“Because I can’t think of a single thing we have to talk about,” she finally replied.

“Grudge holding doesn’t become you.” He set the vase on the ground at his feet. “We should talk some things out.”

“No, we shouldn’t. I’m leaving the past where it belongs. Dead and buried.”

“Okay, so we won’t talk about the past. We’ll focus on going forward and celebrating all we have in common.”

“Which is nothing.” Jill swallowed, her mouth dry.

“Not true. We’re alumni from the same college. The same class. And our reunion is in two weeks.”

The reunion.

Twice in one day she was being forced to travel back and time and think about a man and a broken relationship. Although her short marriage to Andrew, four years after they graduated, was not the same thing as her college romance with Max Kallstrom, two reminders in one day that she wasn’t a very good judge of men’s characters was distressing.


About The Author:

Emelle Gamble became a writer at an early age. At six years old, she was bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection, and this itch to tell tales evolved into bad teen poetry and tortured short works that, thankfully, never saw the light of day, or an editor’s red pen.

She took her first stab at writing a novel in an adult education class in Mobile, Alabama when her kids were in bed for the night. As ‘M.L. Gamble,’ she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin Intrigue. She now publishes novels of Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Situations with SoulMate Publishing and Posh Publishing …works ranging from women’s fiction to thrillers and romantic suspense.

Always intrigued by the words ‘what if’, Gamble’s books feature an ordinary woman confronted with an extraordinary situation. Emelle celebrates the adventurous spirit of readers, and hopes each will enjoy the exciting and surprising journeys her characters take.

Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her hero of thirty years, Philip, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. Like all good villains, the cats claim to have their reasons for misbehaving. Her children are happily launched on their own and are both contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.

Emelle welcomes any reader interested in emailing her at and hopes they will visit her website, or her Author Emelle Gamble FaceBook page.

Emelle Gamble social media links and buy links:

Facebook  Twitter @EmelleGamble

Amazon Author Page



Emelle Gamble will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Rafflecopter Link:


  1. Wow- what a wonderful and thoughtful review. You are my new go-to read on new books. Thank you so much for your thoughts, and for promoting the book here. Humbled and thrilled, Voracious Reader!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to bernie wallace Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s