Oct 02 2013

Book Review: “The Lies We Tell” by Elizabeth Dunk

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 

The Lies We Tell

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Synopsis: From the author of Arranged to Love comes a romantic story of forgiveness, secrets, small towns and second chances. 

Ten years ago, Todd Lansing stood over his father’s grave, his heart thumping out curses on Sia Collins for causing his death. When he returns to Oberon and sees Sia again, his heart thumps with a different emotion, one he fights with all the anger he still feels.

Sia didn’t commit the break-in that ended up killing Mr Lansing, but to admit that would send her father to jail. She has rebuilt her life in the small town, atoned for her accused crime, and carved out a niche using her talent with paint to reach out to the community, raise funds, and support her family.

When Todd finds out the truth, he can’t understand why Sia won’t speak out and clear her name, and it threatens to tear them apart. With her relationship with Todd on the line, will Sia choose loyalty or love? – Escape Publishing

**

Initial Thoughts

Upon first reading, I didn’t realize The Lies We Tell is set in Australia. I’m looking at sentences, pulling out words that don’t belong, thinking “Something isn’t right here.” Yep, completely missed that I was reading an Australian author. Color me stupid. So with that initial mix-up, I was already turned off. However, I was intrigued by the premise of a girl who serves her time (though she doesn’t really go to jail, so that makes this a bit of a misnomer on my part) after taking the blame for a crime she didn’t commit. I thought it would be an exciting redemption tale, and was looking forward to jumping right into a great read. What I got is the story of a woman who allows her family loyalty to rule her life. I can’t tell you folks how pissed I get when reading a story of a woman who takes crap and abuse from a family member out of some convoluted sense of “He used to love me like blah, blah, blah before.” Can you say doormat? Honestly, Sia is the floor beneath the doormat. You know, the part that gets ignored because it’s being walked on? I’ve never read a character who seemingly takes abuse in exchange for love from a “loved one” to such an extreme that I don’t feel sorry for them. There is no pity for Sia. I kept thinking she should stand up for herself and take charge of her life since she has various opportunities to tell her father to shove it. But she is stupid beyond stupid for putting herself in harm’s way to save a man who doesn’t believe anything she does is ever enough. You get kicked in the gut enough times, you eventually want the kicking to stop. Oh, but not Sia. She seems to like it and unbelievably want more! Talk about your daddy issues …

Talk About Frustrating

The writing is good. I can’t say I wasn’t pulled into the story, because I was but I also can’t say this is riveting literature either. My frustration level was at an all time high with Sia. I was dying for her to develop a backbone and not be such a major pushover. “She’s failed her father. How, she didn’t yet know but it was clear she had. Now she had to work out how to make it right.” This internalized revelation comes during a point in the story where she realizes she can’t bail her father out of his own mess, once again, and beats herself up for it. I wanted to scream at the pages, I was so pissed off! I guess I have to give it to Dunk for knowing how to write an infuriating character. But here, it ruins the story because Sia is an enabler and it kills her credibility as a positive, strong character. I mean, the woman takes out a home equity loan to bail her good-for-nothing alcoholic father out of jail, not knowing whether she’d be able to afford the payments. I love my dad, but not that damn much. Look, I get that everyone has their breaking point but it takes a hell of a lot to get Sia to that point. It was too much for me and I wanted to quit reading more times than I can count. I didn’t though because I felt I needed to finish the novel to provide an accurate review of the material.

What the What?

I should probably preface this next section with a bit of an explanation. After realizing the story takes place in Oz and that I was unnecessarily correcting Dunk’s faulty English, I thought The Lies We Tell was going along pretty good. Sia was making her way through life and I was getting to know her as a character. Then, a few odd things occur. Two children are introduced and we’re sort of led to believe they are Sia’s kids. Not a serious issue, but I don’t like being misled. It’s at this point in my reading that I thought The Lies We Tell was more of a novel about redemption. I must have missed the erotica romance label because all of a sudden the hero is introduced and it’s insta-love! There’s talk about being tied up, dominance, and voyeurism. I swear I got whiplash from the abrupt change in plot direction. For Sia to be such a pushover, her preference in the bedroom is a little out of character. But, what do I know? I’m just the reviewer, not the author. This turn of events is off-putting. And in relation to the title, I can’t tell you how unbelievable the story becomes. The lies that are told relate to how the people in the hero and heroine’s families lived their lives—being untrue to their nature because of fear or lack of support in Australian society. I get what Dunk was trying to do by pointing out the lack of support for homosexuals in their society, but her efforts fall flat. I need realism in my fiction if an author is trying to make a point about something so relevant in the world today.

I’d say skip The Lies We Tell if you have an overwhelming fear of whiplash when reading plot points. This isn’t my cup of tea but it could be yours if you like heroines who take physical abuse and disrespect from a parent, a hero who’s a redemptive douche, and a small dash of tie-me-up/tie-me-down kink that’s added to spice things up a bit.

I was provided an ARC by NetGalley and Escape Publishing for an honest review.

 

© 2013, Elle. All rights reserved.

Writer, mother, realist, cloud lover, daydreamer, dessert enthusiast, sweet tea addict, perfectionist, and lover of life and Christ, but not in that order. http://www.fanfiction.net/~vikingloverelle

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