BOOK REVIEW: F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher

Helena Conway has fallen in love.

Unwillingly.

Unwittingly.

But not unprovoked. Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.

It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend. Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.

Until she doesn’t.

review

“Timing is everything when you’re about to tell someone you dreamed him into your heart.”

This is one of those reviews I prefer not writing, but because I know I will be asked time and time again what my thoughts were on this book, I will offer my very personal and entirely subjective impression of this story, reminding you that the opinions of one reviewer in no way define a book, and should always be taken with a grain of salt. I also premise this review by saying that I am an emotional reader who needs to connect with her fictional characters, as flawed as they may be, in order to appreciate their journey. And this was my greatest obstacle while reading this book.

“The day I fell in love with you was the first day you found yourself. You weren’t even mine yet.”

Helena Conway is a young woman in her early twenties, on the cusp of true adulthood. She comes from a loving and supportive family, she is outgoing, caring towards her friends, firmly on a path she thought she always wanted. But one dream changes everything. In this dream, she sees her ten-year-older self, in a home she does not recognize, in a part of the country she’s never even visited, the mother of two beautiful babies, in love with a man she knows, but who has never been hers. The man in her dream happens to be her best friend’s boyfriend. So, this one dream, this one glimpse at true happiness that she never knew she wanted, changes Helena’s outlook on life. She starts questioning her career choice, her friends, herself, and she convinces herself she is in love with her friend’s boyfriend, Kit.

“To fall in love with a boy is one thing, but to fall in love with your best friend’s boy because of a dream is … well, I’m f*cked.”

Naturally, Helena’s friend senses early on the growing attachment between Helena and Kit, and their friendship suffers as a result. Irreparably. Helena moves away, rearranges her entire life in order to find a small piece of happiness somewhere else if she cannot have what and whom she really wants, but every choice she makes stems from her obsession with Kit and the life she dreamed of having with him. And even though her heart eventually gets what it wants the most, fleetingly at times, this is not a ‘hearts and flowers’ kind of love story, and it remains peppery until the very end. Each moment of happiness is counterweighed by an act of emotional sacrifice, every small victory comes at a dire price, and the longer we remain in the heroine’s mind, the more we realise she would never be truly happy with all we might wish for her.

“F*ck fear, and f*ck Kit, and f*ck love. I don’t need any of that muggle shit.”

My greatest concern while reading this book was that I could not pinpoint the personalities of any of the characters in this story, their erratic and often inconsistent actions constantly changing my perception of them as a whole. Helena, in particular, is a complex character whose cynical inner voice does not always match the person she lets everyone see, or her behaviour at times, so much so that it feels foreign to her more often than not. She is a dichotomy of traits— self-indulgent to the core but selfless without fail, vain but continually self-deprecating, a cynical romantic but a hopeful one too—and while this opposition of character qualities and resulting behaviours kept me glued to the pages, it also prevented me from truly connecting with her from the start. She is an amalgam of disparities, and it is that incongruent quality to her character that eventually made me disconnect from her altogether. The hero, on the other hand, remained a question mark to me until the very end, a curious blend of wise one-liners and all-knowing smirks, but the substance of his personality stayed unexplored. Their connection thus felt somewhat impenetrable, and relied too heavily on the heroine’s obsessive personality and the meant-to-be scenario at the core of this story, rather than all the reasons why these two people were made for one another.

“In his mind, I’m just some possibility that could have been, but in my mind, he’s the only possibility.”

I do not need to like a character in order to enjoy their story. But I need to understand it. And in Helena’s case, I never did. The only character I actually did understand was Helena’s best friend, Della, whom we are not supposed to like or empathise with in this instance. But I did, and that created an even greater disconnection from the character I was meant to understand more.

“I’m trying to find myself.”
“That, my dear, is the scariest thing you’re ever going to do.”
“Why is that?”
“Because you might not like what you find.”

I have no doubts whatsoever that most readers will find this story fascinating, compelling, so perfectly different from every single ‘traditional romance’ out there, but I suspect I was not a good fit for it from the start. This story made me feel like I was floating in a sea of overwhelming glumness and melancholy, with no real highs or lows, just a doleful half way point, with the occasional ripple. I live and breathe for those moments of skin-tingling angst in a book that make me catch my breath and skip a heartbeat, and I never experienced them while reading this story. I also suspect that was due to my complete detachment from the characters.

There was always a good chance a hopeless romantic like me would not enjoy a book whose very title gave love the middle finger, but my morbid curiosity eventually won over caution, and I will not lie to you—after only two pages, I was hooked. The interesting premise, the quirky heroine so reminiscent of Olivia from The Opportunist, the drama galore from the get-go were all winning aspects of this story in my eyes at first, but unfortunately, as the story progressed, my connection to the characters and the story itself slowly started losing momentum. I have pondered on this book much longer than it took me to read it, and I am no closer to deciding whether this story is even a romance in my mind. In many ways, it is a reflective journey of a young woman trying to find herself, and learning along the way how very pricky true love can be. Relying heavily on the life lessons aspect of the story and all its philosophical assertions, I see this book more as a lesson in accepting life as it comes, never expecting it to be a fairy-tale. I did not hate it, I did not ever feel tempted to stop reading it, and I loved how different it is from the books I usually tend to pick, but it was not the kind of ‘fictional reality’ I enjoy reading, nor did it have the kind of characters I am personally able to connect with. I respect this author’s talent immensely, I admire her for her stance on writing non-traditional romances, and every iota of me hoped I’d love this book in the end. But as I said before, even though I was not overwhelmed by it, I am certain this story will find its willing audience and mean a great deal to a lot of readers.

“Life is but a carousel of four seasons. Unpredictable for the most part. Happy. Unhappy. Content. Searching. Mess up the order, and they still rebound at one point or another. I’ve learned that revolution can be inward or outward. A move across the country to gain perspective. A change of heart and mind to gain sanity. But the point is to revolt when the season changes. If only to quench your thirst, revolt.”

3stars

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EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher

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I was totally not going to read this book. I mean, who’s ever heard of a ‘Tarryn Fisher HEA’ and you know I never compromise on a happily-ever-after. But then this book hit my Kindle and it was there, teasing me, tempting me…until I gave in. And I have been hooked ever since. I am still reading, and I know it is going to crush my poor heart, but I remain hopeful that regardless of its title, I might still walk away smiling… So, enjoy this awesome excerpt from Chapter 1, and enter to win a signed paperback copy! ♥

Helena Conway has fallen in love.

Unwillingly.

Unwittingly.

But not unprovoked. Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.

It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend. Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.

Until she doesn’t.

excerpt

Chapter One

#wtf

“You are supposed to be with me.”

What words are these? They startle me, and at first I think I’ve heard him wrong. He’s leaning across the table while our significant others are twenty feet away, waiting in line for our food.

“You and me,” he says. “Not us and them.”

I blink at him before I realize he’s making a joke. I laugh and go back to looking at my magazine. Actually, it’s not really a magazine. It’s a math journal, because I’m super cool like that.

“Helena…” I don’t look up right away. I’m afraid to. If I look up and see that he’s not joking, everything will change.

“Helena.” He reaches out and touches my hand. I jump, pull back. My chair makes a horrid scraping sound, and Neil looks over. I pretend that I dropped something and reach under the table. Under the table are our shoes and legs. There is a blue crayon lying at my feet; I pick it up and resurface.

Neil is at the front of the line ordering our food, and my best friend’s boyfriend is waiting for my response, his eyes heavy with burden.

“Are you drunk?” I hiss. “What the f*ck?”

“No,” he says. Though he doesn’t look so sure. For the first time, I notice the scruff on his face. The skin around his eyes is sallow. He’s going through something, maybe? Life is being bullshit.

“If this is a joke, you’re making me really uncomfortable,” I tell him. “Della is right there. What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I only have ten minutes, Helena.” His eyes move to the blue crayon, which is resting between our hands.

“Ten minutes for what? You’re sweating,” I say. “Did you take something, are you on the crack?” What type of drugs make you sweat like that? Crack? Heroine?

I want Neil and Della to come back. I want everything to go back to normal. I spin around to see where they are.

“Helena…”

“Stop saying my name like that.” My voice shakes. I make to stand up, but he grabs the crayon, then my hand.

“I don’t have much time. Let me show you.”

He’s sitting very still, but his eyes remind me of a cornered animal: frightened, panicked, bright. I’ve never seen that look on his face, but since Della’s only been dating him for a few months, it’s a moot point. I don’t really know this guy. He could be a druggie for all I know. He turns my hand over so it’s palm up, and I let him. I don’t know why, but I do.

He places the crayon in my palm and closes my fist around it.

“You have to say it out loud,” he says. “Show me, Kit.”

“Say it, Helena. Please. I’m afraid of what will happen if you don’t.”

Because he looks so afraid, I say it.

“Show me, Kit.” And then, “Should I know what this is?”  

“No one should,” he says. And then everything goes black.

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BOOK REVIEW: Thief by Tarryn Fisher

thief_322x500Note to Self

 

Love is patient; love is kind.

Love doesn’t boast or brag.

There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent – it’s not self-absorbed.

Love isn’t easily upset.

Love doesn’t tally wrongs.

Love trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.

Love will never become obsolete.

I’ll fight for her.

 

Thief

 

review

Forget all you know – I said to myself. This is the one you belong with. I don’t know how I knew that. Maybe our souls touched underneath that tree. Maybe I decided to love her. Maybe love wasn’t our choice. But when I looked at that woman, I saw myself differently. And it wasn’t in a good light. Not a thing would keep me from her. And that could make a person do things they never thought themselves capable of. What I felt for her scared the hell out of me. It was a consuming obsession.”

Elated. That is really the only word I could use to describe the way reading this book has made me feel. After two flawless instalments, I had an inkling that this eagerly anticipated conclusion to the series would blow me away but never in a million years did I even hope it would be this magnificent. I have been tempted on a few occasions so far to give a book a six-star rating to express the timeless quality of the effect that story would have on me and the jaw-dropping uniqueness of the author’s writing style, but I have always restrained myself and refused to break my own rules. For the first time since I started reviewing, I am throwing away the rules and giving this book and this series as a whole these elusive six stars to acknowledge a literary work that is so well written, so impeccably thought out, so emotionally satisfying and yet so real, so imaginative and unique, so unforgettable and so life-changing, that to give it a lesser rating would be an injustice. Thief is everything you wanted it to be and so much more than we could have ever expected. Put some time aside because you will not be able to put this book down, brace yourselves for a ride of a lifetime, surrender your hearts to Ms Fisher and trust her that she knows what she’s doing.

“I see the world in different shades of Olivia.”

After hearing both Olivia’s and Leah’s voices, we are finally getting to hear Caleb’s. So much has been speculated about this wonderful but complex man, but hearing his side of the story and seeing its conclusion through his eyes is what we desperately needed in order to fill the gaps in the storyline and get the answers to the myriad of lingering questions we were left to torture ourselves with. So much we didn’t know, so much we needed to know to fully understand Caleb, and we finally get it all.

“I stared into her cold, blue eyes and knew I’d just met the kind of girl books are written about. There was no one like her.”

His story is told just like Leah’s with constant jumps from past to present, each flashback offering us more and more missing pieces of the puzzle. I cannot tell you much about his role in any of the events leading up to his book without giving away too much of the plotline. I will not deprive you of the jaw-dropping moments as they are many and they were worth the wait. I will tell you though that Caleb is a flawed man just like his female counterparts, but while Olivia and Leah followed their own agendas and generally sought their own happiness, Caleb always took the wellbeing of others into account. Even at the cost of his own.

“She’s married … I don’t get to be with her. I just don’t want to be with anyone else.”

His story with Olivia is revisited from the very beginning, from the moment he sees her under that tree, and each important milestone in their troubled relationship is again seen through his eyes. We get to know the young man he once was, we watch him fall hopelessly in love with a girl who wants to return that love but does not know how. We watch them play tug-of-war over the years, make all the wrong decisions, and eventually find themselves in situations where others could be hurt by their recklessness. Be prepared for missing pieces of information in their story that will crush you, make you realise you knew so little about this man and the motivations behind his actions, and that Olivia and Caleb’s story has been about unspoken truths and misunderstandings just as much as it has been about not knowing how to love each other properly. I am not sure I even liked Caleb very much at the end of The Opportunist, I felt sorry for him by the end of Dirty Red, but I was madly, deeply, completely in love with him by the end of Thief.

“She has the kind of love that can stain your soul, make you beg not to have one, just to escape the spell she’s put you under. I’ve tried to break myself of her over and over, but it’s pointless. I’ve got more of her in my veins than blood.”

Ms Fisher has a very unique talent of saying so much, making us feel so much, too much, without actually saying a lot. Every piece fits together, every word is spoken with purpose, every emotion distilled and expressed at the perfect moment. The scenes between Caleb and Estella alone will not leave a dry eye in the house, one in particular leaving me a sobbing mess.

“I don’t love anything more than I love you.”

This is a story about Olivia and Caleb, two flawed individuals with a history of causing pain to each other, finally grabbing what life is offering them at that moment and making the most of it without looking back at a past they cannot change. It is also a story of redemption for past hurts, past recklessness, past mistakes, and refusing to make new ones. It is a full circle of sorts, but in true Tarryn Fisher fashion, there is no saccharine ending, no Hollywood grand finale where the past is magically erased and the future is seen through rosy lenses. This story is the sum of all its components and it mirrors real life that way. Regret plays a great part in this tale, and living with that regret, not letting it consume them any further is a crucial part of the story as well. Like I said before, trust the very skilled hands of Ms Fisher, trust her that she will give you the best possible ending this story could have had, and I assure you that you will not stop holding your breath until the very last word.

“Broken people give broken love. And we are all a little broken. You just have to forgive and sew up the wounds love delivers, and move on.”

6stars

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Love Me With Lies – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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The Opportunist: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Dirty Red: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
ThiefMy ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW: Dirty Red by Tarryn Fisher

dirtyred_322x500Dear Opportunist, 

You thought you could take him from me, but you lost. Now, that he’s mine I’ll do anything to keep him. Do you doubt me? I have everything that was supposed to be yours. In case you were wondering; he doesn’t ever think about you anymore. I won’t let him go….ever. 

Dirty Red

 

Leah Smith finally has everything she has ever wanted.

Except she doesn’t.

Her marriage feels more like a loan than a lifelong commitment, and the image she has worked so hard to build is fraying before her eyes.

With a new role and a past full of secrets, Leah must decide how far she is willing to go to keep what she has stolen

review

“What kind of woman am I if I knowingly married a man that didn’t love me?”

I feel giddy, euphoric, in awe, confused, converted, guilty for not having had enough sense to trust Tarryn Fisher’s wicked ways implicitly and absolutely. I also need to make a confession that I am not very proud of – I did not want to read this book. I was equally scared and sceptical of its content, and part of me believed that nothing could ever follow The Opportunist with equal merit. I hated Leah at the end of the first book – she was the perfect villain, completely unredeemable and so easy to demonise. Just the idea of reading an entire book in her voice made me want to scream and claw my eyes out. And then it happened, it had to happen – I read it. And now I am a brick away from completing a shrine to Tarryn Fisher.

Reading a book in Leah’s voice was necessary. I now truly believe that this story would have been incomplete otherwise. We are dealing with three flawed individuals who, some more than others, walk a very fine line between hero and villain every moment of their life. Although Olivia is technically meant to be the overall heroine in this story, we learned pretty early on that this is not a fairy tale – Olivia is not a virtuous princess who has been wronged by the wicked witch in the story and is only waiting for her prince to find his way back to her. Olivia is a quasi-villain herself. She lies, cheats, tricks and manipulates, all for her own benefit, and her fate is her own doing. Just because we somehow ‘bonded’ with her by the end of the first book in no way implies that she is easy to love as a character. Her imperfections make her more human than most and at times she is easy to identify with, but her actions too often make it impossible to feel any empathy for her. The ending of Olivia’s book was soul-crushing. It tormented me for months and I am yet to determine whether my torment stemmed from the status of Olivia and Caleb’s relationship or the fact that I was actually cheering for a character like Olivia. The more layers of this story we peel off, and the more we get lost in the lies that these characters have entangled themselves in, the more we realise that it all comes down to one simple scenario – a girl met a boy, they fell for one another madly, epically, irrevocably, but they did not know how to love each other. They hurt one another too many times while trying to fix what they kept breaking and eventually the lies were all that was left of them. But even in the aftermath of their gruelling romance, we are left with one deep conviction – Olivia belongs to Caleb and Caleb belongs to Olivia. And their attempt to live apart happily is their biggest lie.

“They spark. When they’re together, it’s like putting a hurricane and a tornado in the same room – you can feel the tension. I didn’t believe in the cliché of soul mates until I saw them together.”

It is in that mindset that we start Leah’s story. By constantly flashing back and forth from the time Leah met Caleb to their present wedded state post-Olivia, we slowly get to know the Dirty Red… intimately. Her thoughts initially shock us, feed our raging hate of her, but the more we get to understand this woman, the less we are inclined to have such strong emotions towards her. Leah is the product of a loveless upbringing, a casualty of bad parenting, a lack of positive role models, and of never having been taught how to be a decent human being. She reacts before she thinks, she stings before others can sting her, she claims what she believes should be hers. Apart from her sister, she has never had anyone to cheer her on in life, feel proud of her, show her unconditional love and support, but instead of breaking her, this has made her determined to achieve her happiness by any means necessary. She unapologetically pursues a man she knows is still in love with another woman because in her mind no prize is greater than the woman she has convinced herself of being.

“I wondered what stupid b*tch let him go. Whoever she was, I would wipe her from his memory in no time at all. Why” because I was the best of the best: the Godiva, the Maserati, the perfect colorless diamond. I could improve anyone’s life – especially this man’s.”

We watch her change her colours like a chameleon, moulding herself into the woman she believes a man like Caleb would want, but it is like watching a car crash happening before our eyes – it is gruesome, it is painful and yet we cannot look away. Her lack of self-awareness and inability to find fault in herself and in her actions only feed her obsession with the “other woman”, as she blames her for all the shortcomings in her marriage, whether she is present in their life or not.

“No! I think. I am not the poisonous snake. Olivia is. Everything that I’ve had to do is her fault. I am innocent.”

The few fleeting glimpses of goodness that we see in her show us that there is a broken little girl behind her self-serving façade, a trait that could have perhaps even dominated her personality had it been nurtured from an early age. We see the woman she could have been in her struggle to accept motherhood and in her inability to embrace her new role as a mother, a role she simply does not understand.

“I am not a good mother. I’m probably worse than my own self-absorbed, gin and tonic drinking mother.”

Leah is a woman that never quite grew up. She is still the same little girl who desperately wanted her parents to love her and feel proud of her. Her mind is a complex but inherently sad place, filled with a misplaced sense of entitlement, envy, deceit and a deeply concealed lack of self-esteem. As a reader, you want to hate her, her actions make it so very easy to hate her, and yet you struggle to hate her. By the end of this book, I felt like the impossible had been achieved – I did not hate Leah. She knew all along that her husband loved another woman, that he most probably would never love her that way and she still chose to live that reality. It made me very sad for her, at times even protective of her, and hopeful that she would somehow find her way in the future because a person like Leah is not born that way – she is made.

This was a book I wanted to dislike and ended up LOVING. It made me feel so much, too much, and it proved to me two things – if done properly, a book can make us like even the most hateful of characters, and that Tarryn Fisher should never ever be allowed to become a politician.

“My name is Leah and I will do anything to keep my husband.”

5stars

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Love Me With Lies – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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The OpportunistMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Dirty RedMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
ThiefMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BLURB REVEAL: Thief by Tarryn Fisher

Rumour has it that one of the most anticipated, craved, feared, needed books of the decade is just around the corner… The Thief is coming!!!!! Now, let me tell you something, book junkie to book junkie, this baby was most definitely worth the wait. And then some. Heck, it was worth every sleepless moment, every anxiety attack, every drunken stupor where you found yourself squeezing your paperback copy of The Opportunist to your chest and crying yourself to sleep, asking the universe, “Why??… Why?????” Umm, just me? So, if you need to refresh your memory and prepare yourself for the ‘grand finale’, start your re-reads… yesterday!! And in the meantime, don’t forget to breathe while you finally read the blurb of Thief… and be on the lookout for my review on Monday 22 July.

thief_322x500Note to Self

 

Love is patient; love is kind.

Love doesn’t boast or brag.

There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent – it’s not self-absorbed.

Love isn’t easily upset.

Love doesn’t tally wrongs.

Love trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.

Love will never become obsolete.

I’ll fight for her.

 

Thief

 

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Love Me With Lies – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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Other books in the series or related posts:

BOOK REVIEW: The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher

theopportunist2Olivia Kaspen has just discovered that her ex-boyfriend, Caleb Drake, has lost his memory. With an already lousy reputation for taking advantage of situations, Olivia must decide how far she is willing to go to get Caleb back. Wrestling to keep her true identity and their sordid past under wraps, Olivia’s greatest obstacle is Caleb’s wicked, new girlfriend; Leah Smith.

It is a race to the finish as these two vipers engage in a vicious tug of war to possess a man who no longer remembers them. But, soon enough Olivia must face the consequences of her lies, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption.

review

I have no idea how to review a book that has left me so raw and emotional that I haven’t been able to think of anything else but if I don’t put all these thoughts down my head is going to combust. First of all, I have to start my rant by screaming from the top of my lungs – I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! There, inner drama queen (somewhat) satisfied.

It’s not too often that one finds a story that appeals to you on so many levels and a heroine that draws you so much into her psyche. I can’t say I am an Olivia or that I have even met an Olivia in my lifetime but she is really in all of us, perhaps in not such an amplified form but nonetheless she is in there. She is the imperfect heroine that we love and hate. We cringe at the things she does and the decisions she makes but then she does something and you realize, “Crap, I’ve done that!” I couldn’t sympathize with her for most of the book because all the things that happen to her, all the unhappiness she experiences are her own doing. Her actions had to catch up with her eventually. But I still wanted a happy ending for her because she is not a bad person. She comes from a dysfunctional family where her father played yo-yo with her and her mother’s feelings all throughout her childhood and she had to learn early on to detach herself emotionally. Unfortunately, it also came at a price of not feeling worthy of being loved and always anticipating the worst. She does everything in her power to attain happiness but she deep down believes she does not deserve it because of all the bad things she’s done. So she does more bad things to compensate and cover up past bad things and she’s forever stuck in her self-inflicted cycle of hell.

”It was all too good to be true. Nothing good ever lasted. Our time was running out. I could feel it. There was only so long before he discovered who I really was and wanted nothing to do with me. He was light and I was darkness.”

She and Caleb never really stood a chance in the beginning. Caleb was not attuned enough to her, he knew she was closed off emotionally but instead of making her feel loved and safe enough to break through those barriers, he pushed her out of her comfort zone. I hated him for asking her whether she loved him when he knew she did. Saying those words meant so much more to Olivia than hearing them meant to Caleb. I think he was trying to break her and I suspect it had nothing to do with helping her and everything to do with feeding his ego. He kept pressuring her to express her feelings and when you do that to an emotionally scarred individual who has never allowed herself to love another person that way, you have a 50/50 chance they’ll bolt. Caleb did help Olivia find herself in many ways but I think the most important thing that relationship taught her was that she was able to love. At that point, however, she had not learned yet that love sometimes requires sacrifice.

And then there is the office scene… If I live a million years I’ll never understand why Caleb did what he did. I really tried very hard to guess his motivation and justify him and I came up with nothing. It was so random and it just made me think that we didn’t quite get to meet the real Caleb in this book at all.

Caleb’s last words to her –

“I will love again, Olivia, you will hurt forever. What you’ve done is… you are worthless because you make yourself that way. You will remember me every day for the rest of your life because I was the one and you threw me away.”

God, how they made me mad!! He threw her away first!!!!! How dare he put it all on her and blame her for everything! What she did was horrible and unforgivable and it pretty much sealed the deal when it came to them breaking up BUT it was a reaction to what he had done. At that stage in her life she was not equipped emotionally to react any other way. She was a wounded animal who bit back the one that hurt her. So, like I said, the first time around they never stood a chance of having a functional relationship.

The second time they meet, post-amnesia, they do get a clean slate but their biggest obstacle is Olivia’s conscience. At that point she has had three years to live with the consequences of her actions, with the pain and loss of ruining the best thing that has ever happened to her, and she is desperate to be happy again. It comes as no surprise that she does not hesitate to “run into him” at the music shop when she sees him through the window. She equates being happy to being with Caleb as that is the only time she had been truly happy in her life. However, as great as their “new” relationship feels, she knows her lies and bad deeds will eventually catch up with her and she’s unable to enjoy her second chance at happiness because she sees it evaporating any minute now. She still thinks she is a wicked person who does not really deserve Caleb’s love but she cannot help herself. She gives even more of herself to him, she finally verbalises her feelings, opens up to him but eventually when a tough decision is required of her, one that would expose her “wickedness” to him, she does what she was programmed to do – she bolts.

When they met again, Olivia has grown and changed as a person without even realising it. She does not fall into her usual MO of doing things just to make herself happy. She is still haunted by guilt and regret for past deeds but she redeems herself this time around. I don’t know what screams more “I love you!” than having your ex-girlfriend defending your hateful current wife in court when she is obviously guilty and sending her to jail would have been a piece of cake. Olivia hated Leah with all her being but she loved Caleb more. Unfortunately, there comes a point when love is not enough anymore. The book’s ultimate wisdom came from Noah –

“There is more to loving someone than just making yourself happy. You have to want him to be happier than you are.”

He made her see that even if she goes to Caleb, exposes Leah and wins him back, they would end up struggling with issues of guilt and lack of trust. They had hurt each other too many times to count up to that point and it was time to stop. I’m not even going to touch the parting words between Olivia and Caleb because I am still hurting over them but I will end this rant by saying that a happily-ever-after doesn’t always mean the couple should end up together. This was the best and most real outcome to the given circumstances. Their love for each other was never the issue. Everything around it was. Olivia needed a Noah in her life to help her overcome her demons and to teach her to love herself. She is still struggling to find who she really is but Noah helps her to stay on the right path where she does not hurt those she loves and those who love her. She is aware how precious time can be and she chooses to live in the present rather than wallow over her past.

My final thought is about the sequels. We didn’t get the “traditional” HEA in this book and I would have been OK with that had there not been sequels announced. The fact that there are going to be two books after this one sort of implies that they do not end this way. The second book is going to be from Leah’s POV and it makes sense if she will eventually get out of the picture. The last book is speculated to be from Caleb’s POV and that in my mind means we might get a nice red-ribbon-wrapped HEA that we all so hope for. This is all just a theory of mine, wishful thinking of sorts to heal my bulldozered heart after finishing this book.

Tarryn Fisher, YOU ROCK! I love your writing, I love your imagination, I love your originality. I’ll read anything you end up writing. Heck, I’ll read the Yellow Pages if you decide to write them!

5stars

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Love Me With Lies – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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The OpportunistMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Dirty RedMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
ThiefMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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