Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: The Liar by Nora Roberts

Hi everyone!

Long time no see! I feel like I need to start this post with an apology. I'm sorry for the radio silence. Let just say that this year, curling has kicked my butt LOL. This year was the first time I curled the full season - 3 times a week, and participated to all the tournaments possible. Frankly, since New Year, I think had 2 free week-ends. If I wasn't curling, I was volunteering at the club. I loved it, but I'm also glad the season finished last week-end.

Since curling kept me so busy, I pretty much had to choose between reading and blogging... and I chose reading. I haven't read as much as I wished, but at least, I did. It was an easy choice considering that many of us have slowed down our blogging. It's unfortunate, but the truth is blogging isn't the same as when I started. As much as it pains me to say, the community sense that blogging brought me in the beginning isn't there anymore... and so I let go.

I seriously considered stop blogging, just like that. Leave my blog up, but not adding to it anymore. However, this morning, on my way to work, I felt like writing this review. So I'm giving it another go. No promise if there'll be more and at what rate ^_^; I guess we'll have to see where this leads me.

So for the meantime, enjoy this review! :)

The Liar by Nora Roberts
published by Putnam in April 2015
Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …
Genre: Contemporary romance, Romantic Suspense
Series: None

My Opinion: Sigh. I guess that tells it all ^_^;  It's true that the last couple of books by Ms Roberts haven't been stellar... but knowing what she can write, I always have high expectations when she has a new stand-alone release. I'm always hoping the next book is going to be the wowzer. Unfortunately, it wasn't the case with The Liar. In fact, I thought The Liar was quite the disappointment, even more subpar than Whiskey Beach and The Collector :(

My main issue with The Liar wasn't so much the writing - although it's starting to feel very trite, but the set-up/premise of the story and the fact that it's been done many times. Wife discovering that her husband wasn't who she thought he was, that he was a cheat, a liar and left her with tons of debts - sounds familiar? Yes, Ms Roberts took the premise one step further, but it was still very predictable. Furthermore, what was supposed to be the biggest twist wasn't because it was soooo obvious. As soon as I read the first chapter, combined with the blurb, I knew where this was heading... It was like one big red flag that was impossible to disregard, mainly because once again, it's been done previously. So that was the biggest disappointment because while it's never the focus, the suspense remains an important element in Ms Roberts stand-alone book.

There was also something else I was kind of uncomfortable with. When Shelby comes back to her hometown with her daughter, she has to face her brother and best friend. She has to admit her marriage wasn't perfect and that in a way, her husband abused her. He belittled her, cut her off from her friends and family and didn't give her any money of her own. What bothers me is that Shelby's brother and best friend were like: "Why did you let him?" I know it's because both of them know and believe in Shelby's strength, but it came off wrong. Psychological abuse can happen to anyone, no matter how strong they are. The way the brother and best friend acted was like Shelby let herself be abused. Perhaps I'm the one reading the situation wrong, but it just left a bad impression for me.

Speaking of strength, Shelby had it in spade. Of course, that was a good thing because everyone likes a strong heroine. And you had to be strong to go through what Shelby went through. On that front, I really admired her. However, I felt this strength made it hard for me to connect with Shelby. Or perhaps, it's the pride. Sometimes, there's only a fine line between strength and pride. Shelby insisted on dealing with her financial problems on her own and as I said, that's admirable. She wanted to be independent and that's also admirable. However, by refusing everyone's help and insisting to deal with stuff on her own, I felt Shelby built barriers between herself and her entourage... and those barriers were also felt between her and the readers. Every time she accepted help, it was reluctantly and that started to grate with me. Overall, I felt there was a distance between me and Shelby and didn't connect with her. The huge cast of characters also didn't help in that matter. Ms Roberts have written books with huge families, but this is the first time I was confused. I had difficulty keeping people apart - Granny, Gamma, Clayton, Clay, Jack and Jackson, etc. And I don't seem to be the only one confused because at least in two instances, there was a mistake where Shelby was referred as Callie - her daughter's name ^_^; Which by the way, I didn't like Shelby as a heroine name. I almost felt like that name didn't fit the heroine. Callie would have been better... Anyway, there were just so many characters in this book and unfortunately, very few of them has individuality to make them stand out :(

What saved the book from being a total dud for me was the hero, Griff. I thought he was a solid hero - friendly, patient, reasonable and nice. A guy I would like to have as a boyfriend and whom guys would definitively want as a friend. He wouldn't be my top 3 Nora Roberts' heroes as I liked them a bit grumpy, but he was definitively a great guy. And I loved the way he interacted with Callie, Shelby's daughter. I loved how he took Callie on dates even when Shelby wasn't present. He never hesitated around Callie, just jumped straight in and forged a relationship with her. Callie was also a good character - not too cute and precocious.

My Grade: C-. I wonder if I'm being biased or not because this is a NR. It wasn't that The Liar was all that bad... it just didn't measure up to what I'm used to by Ms Roberts. I really hope her next release will be better. It's really time she shakes things up - for her stand-alones and trilogies. I'm going to give her next book a chance, but perhaps I won't rush to get it.