Author: Ann Anderson
Title: From Lies
Series: New Beginnings
Pairing: M/M, M/F
Rating: Two Petals
On the Author's Website: I was unable to locate an author website. Here is the publisher's website instead:
Rafe is on the cusp of legally being an adult, which will finally allow him to pull himself and his sisters free of their mother's clutches. Unfortunately, freedom also entails breaking the law by way of starting his own business under a fake name, and playing a role he fears he'll never escape.
When Rafe meets with one of his primary buyers, he is made an offer too good to refuse—and refuses it, not willing to take an offer that would hurt people relying on him and the goods he provides. The lost opportunity and the constant despair of the role he must play compels him to confess all to a beautiful, compassionate stranger at a ball.
But the man he is so helplessly drawn to is instead captivated by Rafe's sister, and Rafe wonders if he'll always live his life trapped and watching everything he wants slip away...
I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I want to start off this review by saying that as a first book from a brand new author, this was a pretty good place to start. I particularly enjoyed Anderson's characterizations. Each character in the book had a unique voice and personality traits. Rafe, the main character who narrates the story, was engaging and interesting. I was also impressed with the layers of plot in this short story. Rafe was hiding who he was in order to outwit his evil mother. He was considered too young to inherit or run a legitimate business, and he found a way to keep his family safe despite everything working against him. Even the twist at the end (which I did see coming a mile away) was a nice touch.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book fell short. It really felt like a terribly squandered opportunity to tell an otherwise interesting story. Rafe spends much of the book telling the readers what happened. Had Anderson instead shown the readers the scenes, had Rafe experience them as they were happening instead of telling us about them after the fact, my review would have been totally different.
My favorite scene in the book is the one from the summary where Rafe is confronted by the people offering the opportunity that he eventually refuses. Rafe is wholly present in the scene. I was given his full thought process as to how and why he came to the decision to refuse. The details from the drinks everyone had to their facial expressions were written out. It was basically the only scene in the entire story where the author let the reader and the characters embrace the story. The rest of the book was a rather stilted narrative full of "this is what happened". I needed a lot more fully fleshed scenes than I was given.
I would like to comment on the romance, but I'm not entirely certain I should. It is present in the story, but, like the rest of the detailing, falls short. It also feels like an afterthought, added to the plot at the last minute to make this into a gay romance rather than a story about a boy trying to get his sisters happily married. It also ends on a cliffhanger. I am led to assume that the romance will blossom greatly in book two of the series, so if I review that book I will have to comment on the romance in more depth.
For a first-time author, Anderson did fairly well. There was depth of plot and the characters were interesting. The book fell short on detailing, which made it difficult to read and enjoy. I therefore cannot recommend this book, but I do want to read the sequel to watch this author grow.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.