BOOK CLUB: The Secret Path

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Karen Swan is a best-selling author, known for her romances which are often set in exotic locations. The Secret Path is no exception.

While the novel opens in London, the main part of the story takes place in Costa Rica, a land of beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls, and dense jungle. It’s also in the grip of political upheaval with a corrupt political system. And it’s a land where the indigenous people are struggling with the changes happening to their country.

The lead character is Tara Tremain who comes from a very wealthy family. When she was twenty, she thought her life was on track. She was following her career dream of being a doctor and engaged to a man she adored. But abruptly her fiancé betrayed her and caused a rift with her family.


The story then jumps forward a decade. Tara is a doctor at a well-regarded hospital in London, living with a man she loves but it’s apparent that she’s never got over the betrayal by her ex-fiancé. With her close friends and partner, they head off to Costa Rica for a holiday. While there Tara leaves the safety of the beach and her friends to head into the jungle to help an extremely sick child.

The beauty and terror of the jungle are very well described. One minute it’s a calm beautiful place to stroll through, and then suddenly it’s dangerous with treacherous conditions. There are fast-flowing rivers and wild animals, and it’s easy to lose your way.

I enjoyed this novel, I found I wanted to know what happened to Tara. Would she escape from the jungle and manage to get medical treatment for the sick child? Would she forgive her ex-fiance, and if so, how would this affect her new relationship?

The descriptions of Costa Rica and particularly the jungle are vivid. At a time when we can’t travel overseas, it was enjoyable to read about the jungle and be able to imagine just what it’s like to get lost in such a dense area in the middle of the wet season. As a Queenslander, I identified with the humidity that was so well described.

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book club and PanMacmillan for the opportunity to read this novel.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Secret Path by Karen Swan. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 9781529006254

7 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Secret Path

  1. Thank you, Beauty and Lace, and Pan Macmillan for introducing me to the author Karen Swan and for the opportunity to read and review The Secret Path.

    If you are ever contemplating visiting Costa Rica, Karen Swan’s twentieth novel is a must read, one of the best armchair travelogues I have ever read. The vivid colours of the rainforests and the crystal blue of the Caribbean literally jump of the page. You can almost hear the call of the Toucans, smell the vast array of rare medicinal plants, even feel the ultra-fast healing powers of the leaf balm on your skin.

    I can just imagine the months of in-depth research the author would have spent pouring over early Costa Rican medical scientific journals, to bring the magical restorative powers of the leaves of these plants to life.

    I loved the character of Tara a trainee doctor hell bent on deliberately keeping the wealth of her family on the down low, Tara’s fiancée Alex doesn’t rate as highly. I loved the mix of local indigenous threaded throughout the story, I enjoyed learning about their culture, their faith and found their undying love for family and their commitment to their beliefs regardless of the outcome utterly fascinating.

    This book had plenty of twists and turns to keep me reading into the early hours of the morning, it was a suspenseful read and I’m so pleased to have discovered a new author with an amazing backlist of nineteen other books ready for me to devour.

  2. Having not read a book by Karen Swan before my initial thought
    was just another romance ending in disaster but I was totally wrong.

    There is so much more to the ‘The Secret Path’ the story of Tara who felt
    cheated by her boyfriend Alex who is more interested in utilizing her father’s
    wealth for his own means.

    Fast forward 10 years and Tara and her boyfriend Rory, brother Miles and
    lifelong friend Holly head to Costa Rica for a holiday.

    When Tara hears one of her father’s employees has a sick son she wants to
    help which results in a trip to the dense jungle. So begins the unimaginable
    adventure that will keep you on the edge of seat with so many twists and turns.

    This is such a complex, enthralling, compelling read that you will be engaged from
    start to finish.

    I loved it and will be looking for more novels by Karen Swan.

    Many thanks to Pan Macmillan and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to
    read and review this novel.

  3. This is a great read with lots of contrasts. Traditional medicine and modern medicine, environmentalists and developers, traditional culture and western culture, extreme wealth and simple lifestyles. Through it all there is the love of family and friends. It is a great story, written well. I felt I was in Costa Rica

  4. I really enjoyed The Secret Path by Karen Swan. I loved the characters, they were strong, kind, smart and the type of people that you wish were your own friends, not flaky, undeveloped characters that are difficult to form an attachment to. Besides the gorgeous setting ending in the jungles of Costa Rica, there were some really good environmental issues raised to get you thinking so it wasn’t just your typical romance story. I don’t know if I’ve convinced anyone to read this novel with this review, but I know that I will certainly be recommending it to all of my friends to read as soon as possible. Thank you Beauty and Lace for letting me read this!

  5. The Secret Path by Karen Swan takes us to another exotic location which is part of the charm of her books. This time we travel to the deep, dark jungle of Costa Rica, with adventure, romance and a bit of saving the planet thrown in. The main character Tara is a Doctor from an extremely wealthy family who has worked hard to make it on her own, even to living in a dingy student flat in her 20s. She met, fell in love with and was betrayed by Alex and struggled with relationships for the next 10years. She met up with him again when she desperately needed his help to save a child.
    I found Tara to be a bit annoying and the romance seemed to be only based on chemistry but this was a nice, easy escapist read.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMillan for my copy for review.

  6. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMillan I was lucky enough to review “The Secret Path” by Karen Swan.

    Tara Tremain, daughter of one of the wealthiest people around, in love with Alex who is the man of her dream, training in her dream career of being a doctor, has best friend traveling the same career path as her. She has the world at her feet. What possibly could go wrong? Until Alex ends up pregnant and betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust the most and in the most awful way possible.

    Fast forward 10 years and Alex is happily moved on from her betrayal. She has a new partner Rory, she still has her best friend Holly and finally got that dream career as a Doctor.

    Tara grew up holidaying in Costa Rica with her brother and father as her father has big dealings with the land in Costa Rica. Jed who is a local would look after them each time they went there, teaching them all sorts of tricks and life lessons. Jed is like family to them, he works for her father. Tara has not been back to Costa Rica for a decade and now she has to return for the handover of land to the Costa Rican Government, this is a massive deal in her father’s career, and she must be there for it. There is just one person she does not want to see, and they are the reason she has not been back there for such a long time. This is meant to be an amazing getaway for Tara and Rory and Holly and her family.

    Upon arriving Tara comes to learn that Jed’s son is extremely ill and the only thing that can help him is a black leaf in the jungle which must be picked by a woman and is 2 days walk there and 2 days back. As much as Tara does not believe in the natural medicines, she will do this for Jed.

    Along the way things happen and it turns out the only person that can help Tara make this trek is the one person she now hates the most. She can’t stand to be near them after their betrayal all those years ago and wants nothing to do with them but knows this person is the only one that can help her get what she needs. Tara either has to neglect Jed’s wishes to help his dying son or put her hate aside and go on with the trek.

    This book started out really good and I was really enjoying it, as it went on and tells the story about the trek it becomes long and I started to lose a bit of interest. I felt the story could have been told more quickly, not so detailed and far fetched and maybe it could have had a bit more detail in the ending.

  7. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read The Secret Path by Karen Swan. I have not read any of her books before.
    Tara is a doctor who is working too hard and makes a bad mistake. She is also unable to get over her fiance from a decade ago who betrayed her.
    A trip to beautiful Costa Rica changes her life in many ways, good and bad.
    The descriptions of the jungle make you feel as if you’re there. Fancy seeing a sloth in the wild!
    I enjoyed the book and will look for more by this author.

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