Sunday, May 12, 2019

Nora Roberts’ “The Liar” Book Review

Nora Roberts "The Liar" Book Cover - Source: Amazon
Nora Roberts “The Liar” Book Cover

I’m a huge fan of Nora Roberts’ writing and have read most of her books (including her “In Death” series under her J.D. Robb nom de plume). I had purchased the audiobook of her 2015 romantic suspense novel “The Liar” as soon as it came out, but somehow it got lost in the shuffle in my Audible library. Coming across it again recently – and finally getting to listen to it with my husband – was a treat!

The things we enjoyed most about this book are that it's:
  • Authentic. One of the things we’ve always loved about Nora Roberts’ writing is her thorough research. This makes her characters and locations very believable, so it’s easy to be transported into the world she creates for each of her stories.
  • Detailed. Roberts’ characters, for the most part, are fully formed. She provides enough detail and history and weaves in enough backstory to make us feel as if we know each character personally. We feel like they have lives beyond just what’s in the story.
  • Well-paced. One of the hallmarks of Roberts’ writing is her excellent pacing. She doesn’t rush through the telling, but she also never lets the story drag. She doesn’t use adjectives for their own sake, like many other authors. Her descriptions are all well thought out and help move the story forward.
  • Dialogue-driven. Roberts is an acknowledged master of dialogue. Like all her books, “The Liar” is told largely through conversations. I’ve always appreciated her very sparing use of speech tags (e.g., “he said,” “she asked,” “they exclaimed”). She gives every character a distinctive, recognizable speech pattern, so readers can easily identify who’s saying what without naming the speakers every time. For example, Viola speaks straightforwardly and with authority, but also with the slightly formal, slightly flowery language of a proper Southern lady when she’s addressing someone outside the family; whereas Forrest, a cop to the core, speaks tersely and uses adjectives sparingly.
There were a couple of things that felt a bit off. Melody’s character seems a bit forced. She’s surprisingly one-dimensional for a Roberts character. She never shows even a hint of remorse and it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her. Also, my husband thinks Griff seems too good to be true. He always has time for Shelby and Callie. He always does the right thing. He doesn’t make even a single misstep. In a true romance, we need to follow the lines of both characters. But although Griff is the romantic foil, this is Shelby’s story, and in some ways he’s a supporting player. We never learn much about his backstory or any of his previous relationships. Fortunately, neither of those issues prevented us from thoroughly enjoying this book.

Although I also own the Kindle version, I much prefer the unabridged audiobook of “The Liar”. Narrator January LaVoy does a fabulous job of giving both the male and female characters distinctive voices. In many audiobooks, it can be hard to tell which character is speaking without speech tags, but that was never a problem with this one. LaVoy also makes the men sound like men and the women like women – a skill narrators often lack. Even more impressive is her totally believable voicing of three-year-old Callie. Her excellent narration brings an added dimension to the storytelling. This audiobook will keep you happily engrossed for 16 hours, 31 minutes.

Main Characters in “The Liar” Include:

Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth – a young wife and mother who grew up in rural Tennessee; former Homecoming Queen

Richard Foxworth – Shelby’s snobby, cold, jet-setting husband

Callie Rose Foxworth – Shelby and Richard’s three-year-old daughter

Viola MacNee Donahue – Shelby’s vivacious, ambitious, straight-shooting and wise grandmother, owner of Viola’s Harmony House Salon and Day Spa

Forrest Jackson Pomeroy – local cop and Shelby’s big brother

Ada Mae Pomeroy – Shelby’s mom

Emma Kate Addison – nurse and Shelby’s best friend

Matt Baker – Emma Kate’s boyfriend and partner in The Fix-It Guys

Griff Lott – Matt’s partner in The Fix-It Guys; originally from Baltimore

Melody Bunker – Shelby’s main nemesis in high school; second runner-up in the Miss Tennessee pageant; manager of the Artful Ridge artisan craft gallery

“The Liar” Synopsis

This novel is broken into three sections: The False, The Roots and The Real.

The False
Pretty redhead Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth learns that her husband, Richard, is missing and presumed dead. Richard Foxworth was everything Shelby wasn’t – urbane, suave, worldly, wealthy, sophisticated and well-traveled. He quickly swept her off her feet and into an unfamiliar world of glamorous jet-setting and an expensive lifestyle. When she met Richard, he had been attentive and flattering, but that didn’t last long. After their daughter Callie was born, he became increasingly insulting to Shelby and had little time and even less affection for their sweet, pretty, vivacious daughter.

Shelby discovers that everything she thought she knew about Richard was false. The man she had married, the father of her darling Callie, had been not only a liar but also a successful con man. Shelby had never suspected that Richard hadn’t purchased the fancy house in Philadelphia, elegant clothes and all the other trappings of their wealthy lifestyle outright. And he had racked up $3 million in debts that now fell squarely on Shelby’s slender shoulders. 

The Roots
Shelby sells all of Richard’s belongings and most of her own, as well as the huge, fancy house he had purchased (without consulting her) and the expensive custom furnishings she had always hated. Then she takes Callie back to Rendezvous Ridge, Tennessee, Shelby’s beloved hometown, determined to raise her daughter surrounded by three generations of Shelby’s close-knit, loving and supportive family.

Shelby moves back into her parents’ home and starts to build a new life for herself and Callie. She makes up with her best friend, Emma Kate, who has been angry at Shelby ever since she had taken off with Richard and seemingly ignored her family and friends back home. Emma Kate’s boyfriend and his business partner, Griffin Lott, have a fledgling construction and remodeling business. Griff falls hard for Shelby and Callie. He quickly wins Callie’s heart, but Shelby is reluctant to put her own on the line again or risk Callie’s getting hurt. 

As this section progresses, Shelby, Callie and Griff find themselves increasingly in danger. Shelby’s policeman brother Forrest tries to protect them while he figures out and tracks down who is responsible for murder, both attempted and successful. Things comes to a frightening head.

The Real
The last section consists of the final chapter and an epilogue. Telling you anything about them would be a major spoiler, so you’ll just have to read “The Liar” to find out what happens. It’s a worthwhile ride!



“The Liar” book reviewed by:
Margaret Schindel




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17 comments:

  1. It has been a while since I read a Nora Roberts book, but it might just be time for me to try out the audio book version of this one. Like you, I know I would appreciate the distinctive voices that would make it easier to follow the dialog. This definitely sounds like a book I would enjoy reading, or hearing. Romance is always my preferred genre. Add a touch of mystery & suspense and we have literary perfection in my opinion. Thanks for the recommendation and the excellent review!

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    1. Thank you, Sylvestermouse! Romance is my preferred genre as well. I'm so glad you enjoyed my review of "The Liar." I think you'd really enjoy it!

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  2. Thanks for a great review. I too haven't read Nora Roberts for quite a while and I will have to give this one a try. Listening to it on audio sounds like a good idea.

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    1. Thanks very much, Mary Beth! January LaVoy's narration really enhances an already great story. I hope you have a chance to listen to the audiobook!

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  4. My daughter adores audio books because she can listen while she draws (she's an artist). My mother (a huge reader all her life) late in life developed macular degeneration and audio books through the Association for the Blind were a life saver for her as she couldn't imagine giving up books. Believe it or not I have never listened to an audio book (though I read books ALL the time). Perhaps it is time for me to try one. Your review makes "The Liar" sound very intriguing and now I want to 'hear' what happens in the end. Well done book review.

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    1. Elf, audiobooks have become a daily staple for me. I love being able to listen to books in the car, on a bus or train, while doing the dishes or folding laundry, etc. It was my husband who got me hooked on audiobooks many years ago. The narrator makes a huge difference in whether the narration enhances or detracts from a book. I've listened to a lot of different narrators over the years and I have many favorites whose work I seek out. I think I'll be adding January LaVoy to that list! I hope you get a chance to listen to "The Liar". Maybe you'll get hooked on audiobooks, as I have! :)

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  5. I love Nora Roberts books too, but I have not read this one. So onto my list of summer reading it goes. Sounds like a great story. I prefer reading though to having an audio book. Somehow there is a calm in having to turn pages or flip to the next screen. Thanks for this review!

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    1. Thanks very much, Olivia! As a fellow Nora a Roberts fan I think you’ll really enjoy this book. I know what you mean about “the calm in having to turn pages or flip the screen.” As I mentioned in the review, I own this book in Kindle format as well. I hope reading it gives you pleasure this summer!

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  6. A superb book review. So thorough and well-written. Looking forward to all of your reviews.

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    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Diana. Much appreciated!

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  7. Margaret, an excellent review, thorough and interesting! Mom enjoys Nora Roberts as well. Her closet is filled with quite a few of her books. Not sure if he has this one or not, but I'd be surprised if she didn't. I'll have to check when I get up there. Am planning to buy her a few books as a gift - although it's difficult to choose them for her!

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    1. Thanks so much for your lovely feedback, Barbara. I find Nora Roberts’ writing to.be eminently re-readable, especially if it’s a book I haven’t read in a while. Also, listening to one of her books in an audiobook format that I had read a few years earlier in print or Kindle format is always a treat. With only a very few exceptions the vast majority of the narrators who record her audiobooks are superb. Maybe your mom would enjoy listening to this or another of Nora’s book on Audible, especially if her eyesight isn’t what it used to be. (I know mine sure isn’t, lol!) Thanks again for your wonderful comment, Barbara.

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  8. Great Review! So many great books! So little time. I just put a hold on the ebook for this, but I have a six month wait. That says something about how popular this book is. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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  9. Thanks so much, Barb! The wait list for Nora Roberts books is always long, but always worth the wait. I try to enjoy the anticipation. :) I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I did!

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  10. I passed a Nora Roberts book when I was cleaning up a bookcase this morning. Like others here, I have not read one for a long time. My book joined my should read pile and I like the sound of Liar, too.

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    1. Thanks very much for your visit, Brenda! I hope you enjoy your Nora Roberts book and, perhaps, The Liar as well.

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