An Honest Lie, by Tarryn Fisher**

Nope.

An Honest Lie is a thriller by Tarryn Fisher. Thanks go to Harper Collins for the review copies; I wish I had something good to say, but the truth is, this is one of the worst written novels I have seen in my many years of reviewing and blogging.

Our protagonist is Rainy, although we learn that her given name is Summer; she fled a terrifying cult earlier, and she changed her name to make herself harder to find. Now she is living in an upscale home on a mountain in eastern Washington State with her boyfriend; her boyfriend is trying to integrate her into his friends’ group, and has pressured her into going on a “girls’ trip” to Vegas while he is travelling on business. She goes, though only because she sees no way out. He bought her a ticket; she should be a good sport.

The story changes point of view from present, to past, etcetera, and we see the cult where she was more or less imprisoned in the Nevada desert during her childhood. However, adult Rainy doesn’t develop much, at least during the initial sixty percent, which is as far as I am willing to read. Fisher has wrapped Rainy’s character and the suspenseful aspects of the story together to such an extent that she can’t let us see much of the character without giving away plot points that she is saving for later. Consequently, I get tired of Rainy’s whiney anxiety fairly early in the book. But that’s not what limits this story to a two star rating.

Here’s the insurmountable problem. As noted, Rainy is an anxious mess, and the mere idea of setting foot in Nevada nearly undoes her. When they get to their swank hotel, the women discover that all of the bedrooms but one has a gorgeous desert view; the last one, the one with the view of the parking lot, is the one Rainy requests, because just looking out the window and seeing the desert is triggering for her.

And yet, somewhere shy of the fifty percent mark, Rainy hops into a cab and pays the driver to take her to the little town closest to the compound from which she escaped, and suddenly she’s playing detective, asking questions and snooping around. And reader, there is no development that explains this; there’s no aha moment where she gathers her wits and develops a plan of some sort. We aren’t even all that clear what it is that she hopes to achieve, out there in the scary, triggering desert all by her lonesome. Our protagonist goes from I-can’t-look-at-the-desert-or-I’ll-have-an-anxiety-attack-and-nightmares, to I-think-I’ll-go-see-the-place-and-maybe-seek-vengeance with no segue way, no clear goal, even.

If I were to guess, I’d say maybe the author changed a whole section of the story during the latter stages, and the sequencing and character’s motivation got messed up due to sloppy editing, but I don’t really know what went so badly wrong. It isn’t my job to know why this book is a train wreck. Whatever the reason, the result is an insult to the reader’s intelligence. I feel this way, and I got to read it free. How might others feel once they’ve shelled out the purchase price?

This book is for sale now, but I don’t recommend it to you.

The Pearl Sister, by Lucinda Riley**

ThePearlSisterI was invited to read and review this title, and I thank Net Galley and Atria for thinking of me. Sadly, though I tried more than once, I just couldn’t engage with the story. I couldn’t put my finger on it; whereas the character development could do with a little boost, generally a series mystery can inspire at minimum a 3 or 4 star review from me. What is it that stands in the way now?

Had I not been distracted by a major household disaster, I would have realized it sooner. The premise itself is a disturbing one to me. The sisters are all adopted children that were sought out by a now-deceased, very wealthy man, who wanted a child for each continent. No, wait. A daughter from each continent.

How do children become tchotchkes? What gives any adult a right to treat orphans like collector’s items?

Props to Riley for her resonant settings and for developing a dedicated readership. The fact that the series has developed such high reviews tells me that there are a great many people that genuinely admire this series and look forward to the next before it’s available. But try though I might, I don’t see it that way, and I cannot provide a review based on what other readers think.

For those that are already among Riley’s readers, here it is, another one. But for me? Not so much.