"Advance praise for The Last Secret, Blue Denim Press, Fall 2022, a debut novel by Pam Royl. Well researched and beautifully written with engaging dialogue, The Last Secret opens with this sentence: 'The day the Prince of Wales came to visit, I met my first husband.' The visit is no ordinary one being the 1860's opening of Victoria Hall situated in a small town on Lake Ontario’s north shore. Bringing their Victorian values with them, Sarah’s parents, especially her mother assume both daughters will secure their futures by marrying well. Even at sixteen, Sarah has decidedly different ideas. Defying her mother’s marriage expectations, she chooses paths that are more challenging than she has ever imagined. Spanning almost two decades this novel is an engaging slice of social history mixed with intrigue, betrayal and dark family secrets."
Linda Hutsell-Manning, author of Fearless and Determined, Two Years in a One-Room School
"In The Last Secret, Pam Royl tells an engrossing story of life in Ontario in the mid-nineteenth
century. The story is a page-turner, told in a vivid and accurate way. But more than an exciting
story, The Last Secret is an exploration of the social and political mores that governed life in a
harsh place and unforgiving era we know too little about. The book examines these conventions
and exposes the resulting hypocrisies that compelled middle class burgers to live lives of secrets and lies. This is a thoroughly researched novel that transports the reader into a strange but believable world. The plot twists and turns, making the book hard to put down. Pam Royl's writing style is easy, vivid, and utterly absorbing, bringing the characters and the world they inhabit, to life. All in all, The Last Secret is a wonderful read."
"The author masterfully reflects the texture and detail of the times, invoking all five senses in her vivid descriptions. 'That night, the winter bore down heavily upon us, with snow driving against the cottage, mounding up around its windows, swallowing us into its frozen jowls …. The tiny cottage seemed to shrink with all of us crammed within its walls, and the air filled with the smell of wood smoke and poorly washed bodies.' This is a story about a young woman’s quest for freedom, her shrewd survival instincts and the difficult, sometimes heart-breaking, decisions she needs to make. Along the way, we learn that Sarah is a sensitive, complex and determined woman and not above the manipulative tactics of the men she is so valiantly trying to outwit — and we are rooting for her every step of the way. The Last Secret is an enjoyable and highly engaging read from beginning to end."
Liz Torlée, author of The Way Things Fall and In Love with The Night
"This book is a great read! When I first started reading it, I thought, “This feels like a racy Jane Austen,” but it became something rather epic, not unlike Gone with the Wind. It was a real page turner. I stayed up late to finish it because I just couldn’t put it down!"
"I couldn't put The Last Secret down! It has a refreshing perspective on what it takes for a woman to be successful in the later 1800s. The Last Secret is a great read, highly recommended."
A short fiction and personal narrative by Pam Royl can be found in this anthology by writers of five counties in Eastern Ontario. Celebrating resilience through a fine selection of short stories, poems and more, Hill Spirits V launched the first year for the Northumberland Festival of the Arts, and inspires with humour, sorrow, and resolve.