Lie to Me by Starr Ambrose
published by Pocket Books in November 2008
The engagement is phony, but the diamonds are real...
Devastatingly handsome Jack Payton, the black sheep of his well-bred family, isn't exactly marriage material, but for a fake fiancé, he'll do just fine. Not that Eleanor Coggins has a choice. If she's going to prove that Jack's wealthy half brother Banner Westfield murdered her best friend, she needs total access to the family estate.
Once Jack and Eleanor blow Banner's cover, they can go their separate ways... or so she thinks. In order to win custody of his twelve-year-old daughter, Jack seriously needs to improve his reputation. An engagement should do the trick, but with Eleanor's vivacious wit and irresistible curves, it's the pretend part that's getting harder...
With a little help from an ex-con turned home security expert, a police chief with a scandalous secret, and an unexpected visitor, they must expose Banner's dangerous tricks before they become his victims. But can Jack convince Eleanor to turn their own seductive little lie into the truth?
Genre: contemporary romance
The Story: Her best friend has just died and Eleanor Coggins is convinced that the husband is behind it. Determined to prove his culpability, Ellie packs all her things and drives down to Bloomfields Hills, Michigan, and breaks into the man's library... when she is caught by Jack Payton, the suspect's half-brother.
When Jack Payton finds the woman in his brother's library, he immediately seizes the opportunity to trick her into a fake engagement. He already suspects that his brother has been doing something illegal and therefore, doesn't mind helping Ellie. Jack has spent the last two years in jail, after being accused of vehicular manslaughter. While he was in jail, a daughter - Libby - he didn't know existed turned up and she's been in his mother's custody. Jack is determined to get custody of his daughter, especially after how his mother's two sons have turned out.
Lust, romance, friendship ensue :)
My Opinion: This was such a great book! From the first conversation between Ellie and Jack, I knew this was going to be a great book :) Love the banter and the quick wit displayed by the characters :)
I thought Jack was quite an interesting character. I'm surprised that he wasn't more bitter, but at the same time, I'm glad... Had enough of sourly heroes. I liked his dedication to Libby and how he wanted a better life for his daughter... all the scenes with Libby were very endearing as he wants to be a good parent and connect with his daughter. I also loved his interactions with Ellie and as I said earlier, the banter :)
Ellie was also a very enjoyable heroine. I have to say, I'm impressed at her loyalty to her friend. I mean, she dropped everything and went to investigate her friend's death... Very loyal, but a bit stupid and naive. I also liked her middle-classness... is that a word? It sounds strange, but for once, the heroine was a normal, everyday person... Not a rich, sophisticated woman or the tough, kicking-ass chick or the "normal" goody-two-shoes girl either. She also didn't have a career or a dark past or big secrets... What I found unfortunate however is that we didn't have enough background information on her. Throughout the book, Ellie is happy and proud because she's becoming a different woman. At home, people call her Nora, but in Bloomfiels Hills, Jack and everyone else call her Ellie... and Ellie seems to be more confident and more at ease and she likes that new woman. Personally, I just thought that something was missing for the readers to completely buy Ellie's transformation and fully connect with her.
Overall, the story was very good :) I think that from time to time, readers had to look past some details and suspend disbelief... For example, if Banner was the big bad guy he was, would he really had all those inculpating files on his personal computer in his library where anyone who sneaks/breaks in can find and read? Sure, they were password-protected, but it's easy to overcome that. In addition, I thought that Jack would have spent more time in jail no for vehicular manslaughter especially if it was caused by drunk driving? Anyway, I thought that all the plot lines blend well with each other. Each was appropriately addressed and I'm content with the outcome.
I think Ms Ambrose did a real good job avoiding stereotypes and it could have been easy. I was pleasantly surprised with Jack's mother and quite pleased with her. Ms Ambrose also did a good job with Libby, catching the teenager's attitude just right. She didn't overdo it and Libby wasn't annoying at all. Finally, I like Ms Ambrose's voice. It's straightforward and unpretentious.
My Grade: B+. Hard to believe this is Ms Ambrose's first book. I'm already looking forward to her next book :)