Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: The Truth in Lies

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A few of you know that I have written two novels and several short stories which I have posted online under a pen name (and no, I'm not telling my pen name to you) on two websites. Currently I'm writing a third novel, and all together I've received more than 3 million "reads" (hits) between the two sites. One of my novels is up for Top 10 Story of 2013 in its genre, and my current novel--only 11 chapters in--was nominated for Best Supporting Cast in the 2014 Fan Choice Awards.

One of the most amazing perks of publishing novels online chapter-by-chapter serial-style (following in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, after all) is the amazing authors I've come to know as I read their work and they read mine. Through these websites, we are able to review each other's chapters and leave comments and questions.

Jeanne McDonald is one of those authors. I read the original version of her The Truth in Lies Saga online, and I loved it so much that I read it THREE times. (Yes, that is really *3* times!!) So I was thrilled when the revised version of The Truth in Lies e-book was available on Amazon (it's also available in print on Amazon as well).

As much as I loved the preliminary version, I adore the new version now available for sale.

Here's a quick plot synopsis (minus spoilers): The main character, Mackenzie, a speech pathologist, undergoes a traumatic experience and, when her relationship with boyfriend Nate sours as a result, she moves in with her longtime best friend, the fashionable Olivia. However, Mackenzie finds greater understanding, friendship, and solace in the handsome and athletic attorney, Andrew, Olivia's new boyfriend, than she does from her best friend. Despite the fact that the connection and attraction between Drew and Mackenzie is immediate and undeniable, they both attempt to resist each other since Drew is still with Olivia. Complications also arise with Jared, Mackenzie's best guy friend who works with her as a music therapist and who can't stand Olivia. And, since I don't want to give away any spoilers, let's just say that "chaos ensues."

Jeanne McDonald did more than revise an already excellent novel; she completely transformed the plot details while keeping the compelling character dynamics intact; in fact, she focused and sharpened the intriguing relationships. With Drew and Mackenzie, she added more complexities, more uncertainties between them yet also removed some of the moral culpability for their feelings and actions, placing the reader squarely on their side. In the first version, some events occurred between them that would definitely be classified as "cheating." Although I loved the characters of Mackenzie and Drew in the first edition, I didn't like and couldn't approve of some of their actions which muddied my feelings toward them. And with the other main characters of Nate, Olivia, and Jared, the author made their motivations far more direct and clear-cut with fewer gray areas.

My only reservation is that I truly wonder how Mackenzie could be "best friends" with someone as unlike her as possible; the character of Olivia seems to have few redeeming qualities which makes me wonder how both Mackenzie and Drew were drawn her.

In addition, new characters appear in this revised edition, such as Mackenzie's parents, while others seem to have disappeared, namely the main character's first husband and their son with Asperger's (a high-functioning type of autism) who live in a different state. The overall effect of these alterations results in a more unified story that eliminates some of the questionable moral decisions made by some characters while bringing other characters into the action, creating more direct participation and less feeling of their being mere bystanders in the resulting drama.

But the big surprise was a HUGE plot twist at the end of this first volume of The Truth in Lies Saga that I did not expect; in fact, I was simply flabbergasted in the best way. (I love it when books absolutely surprise me, and considering that I had read the earlier version of this story several times, the most recent time only a month ago, shocking me was quite an accomplishment!!) The possibility of this twist never occurred to me, and I practically dropped my Kindle, jaw unattractively agape, as I read the end of this first volume.

Admittedly, this first volume ends with quite the cliffhanger--and a rather distressing one at that. It seems impossible for good to happen to our couple at the close of The Truth in Lies. Of course, I'll have to wait until the second volume, The Certainty of Deception, is published in June to find out what happens next. The suspense is delightfully delicious, and despite the bleakness of the end of this volume, we can't help hoping that good will happen to Mackenzie and Drew.

And I have to admit that I am waiting quite impatiently for June 17 to arrive. :)

Okay, okay, I'll admit it: I'm counting the days until the appearance of The Certainty of Deception. (Just 135 days to go!! Yay!!)

I highly recommend The Truth in Lies, the first volume of The Truth in Lies Saga. It's a human-interest story with compelling characters and a plot full of twists that somehow seem completely natural and works incredibly well, taking into careful account the characters' personalities and foibles.

I also highly recommend following Jeanne McDonald on Goodreads and her website at as she is writing and releasing additional books in 2014 and beyond. An extremely talented writer, Jeanne McDonald is an author whose work I plan to follow for a long time to come.

I give The Truth in Lies (Book 1 of The Truth in Lies Saga) 4 1/2 stars (of 5 stars possible, a rating only given to my favorite classic novels).



Jane D. said...

I just might have to try this one Susanne. Having just read the first novel for a year, the other day!

Susanne Barrett said...

I really loved it--and I hope you will, too, Jane! :)



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