Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering – Blog Tour and Review

Tell Me Lies_Books For The Living

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
Atria Books / June 12th, 2018
Hardcover 384 pages
Contemporary Fiction
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Synopsis:

A thrilling, sexy coming-of-age story exploring toxic love, ruthless ambition, and shocking betrayal, Tell Me Lies is about that one person who still haunts you—the other one. The wrong one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. Deep down, Lucy knows she has to acknowledge the truth about Stephen. But before she can free herself from this addicting entanglement, she must confront and heal her relationship with her mother—or risk losing herself in a delusion about what it truly means to love.

With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires of Sweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go, even when you know you should.


MY REVIEW

4 Stars

Put simply, Tell Me Lies is about a boy and girl in a very toxic relationship. But of course, there is so much more to say about it.

This book follows Lucy as she navigates college and post-college life. It is told in dual POVs and dual timelines, but surprisingly (and thankfully) it was not difficult to follow. She has a bit of a fraught relationship with her mother due to something that happened when she was a teenager (Lucy deems it the “Unforgivable Thing”). She leaves her hometown in Long Island to attend a small college in California. This is where she meets Stephen.

Stephen, also from Long Island, is confident, arrogant, and cocksure. He has issues with his mother as well, who suffers from Bipolar I, and his relationship with his father is more one of pity than love. When Stephen sees something he wants, he goes after it and doesn’t stop until he has it. Even if that means hurting people along the way. And soon, that want becomes Lucy.

For me, it didn’t take long to see that Stephen is not a good guy. He is not just manipulative, secretive, and insensitive, there is something seriously wrong with him. But all Lucy sees is a charming, attentive guy who is a bit chubby but who she also has insane chemistry with. And so begins their extremely toxic relationship.

Lovering did a great job weaving these two characters and their lives together. The two timelines were easy to follow and the dual POV was incredibly captivating and enthralling. There were some surprises along the way, but due to knowing both characters’ POVs as a reader, it gives insider knowledge which caused me personally to yell out loud at them many times.

There is a lot of drug use in this book. I don’t know if I’m just naive, but I kept wondering if this portrayal was an accurate one of college life. Do college kids do hard drugs like cocaine this often? If so, that’s crazy and they should definitely stop. I know drinking is prevalent, I did go to college, and maybe I just didn’t surround myself with people who were into drugs, but it was pretty shocking reading the extent of these kids’ casual drug use.

In addition to that, it was difficult to read at times. Being inside both of these characters’ heads wasn’t a picnic and made me extremely uncomfortable at different points of the book. I read a lot of romance and things frequently get steamy and explicit. But honestly, this was explicit in a way that made me uncomfortable to read. Mostly because I knew how Stephen was viewing those interactions vs how Lucy saw them. It is a testament to Lovering’s writing that she made me have such a visceral reaction to her words so many times.

It had a bit of a psychological thriller feel to it, even though I wouldn’t classify it as one necessarily. Not only is Stephen playing with Lucy’s mind, he plays with the reader’s as well.

Also as a side note, for me, there is a clear villain in this book and that is Stephen. You are not supposed to like him. That is one of the whole points of the story in my opinion. Even though her friends tell her many times, Lucy has to figure out on her own that Stephen is a horrible person with serious problems. I don’t want to give anything away but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to figure it out pretty quickly what he is.

Like I said, this story is about a toxic relationship and those involved are seriously flawed.

Even though I would have liked a bit more comeuppance for a particular character at the end, as it felt a little bit anticlimactic to me, I would still highly recommend the book.

(Because this book is so visceral and in a way graphic, there are some potential trigger points that you may want to be aware of. I’ll put those below.)

I received a free advanced readers copy of this book from Atria Books and a finished hardcover from BookSparks in exchange for an honest review.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This commission helps to maintain this blog.

Potential Trigger Points
Disordered eating
Death
Cheating
Toxic relationship
Narcissism
Gaslighting


MEET THE AUTHOR: CAROLA LOVERING

Carola Lovering attended Colorado College, and her work has appeared in W Magazine, National Geographic, Outside, and Yoga Journal, among other publications. Tell Me Lies is her first novel. In addition to writing, Carola teaches yoga at CorePower. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – Review

The Kiss Quotient _ Books For The Living

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Berkley / June 5, 2018
Paperback 336 pages
Contemporary Romance
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Synopsis:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with as well as way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that she has Asperger’s and that French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. She decides that she needs lots of practice–with a professional–which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese-Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and he agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses but also to crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges convinces Stella that love is the best kind of logic.

Watch the SUPER CUTE book trailer below!


My Review

5 Stars

I have been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it last year. If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time you’ll know I love romance. It is definitely my favorite genre. I love love stories. I love reading about characters who learn from their mistakes, and grow in order to open themselves up to love.

THE KISS QUOTIENT is a perfect example of everything I love about romance. The story centers around Stella and Michael (it’s dual POV!). Stella is an econometrician who happens to have autism. She is being evermore persistently pressured by her mother to get married and give her grandchildren. One of the things Stella deals with because of her autism is an aversion to touch. She doesn’t love it. She tolerates it when necessary; like when her mother hugs her with her overwhelming Chanel perfume, or holds her hand for too long. Stella doesn’t know how she’ll give her mother grandkids when she can hardly stand being touched by another person.

A passing comment from a jerk of a coworker leads her to hire an escort to teach her how to be good at sex and relationships.

Enter Michael. A Swedish-Vietnamese escort who has issues of his own. Although we don’t know exactly what those issues are until later. Right away the reader knows Michael doesn’t love being an escort. He does it because he needs the money due to the fact that he has a never-ending pile of bills coming every week.

Something about Stella strikes Michael right away. She’s different. She’s interesting and sweet, and he’s drawn to her immediately.

Their arrangement slowly morphs from Michael teaching Stella how to be good at sex to Michael being Stella’s practice boyfriend… and I think I’ll leave it there so you can find out the rest of it for yourself. 🙂

I loved these characters. Although I don’t have autism, I feel like I could relate to Stella and some of her insecurities. Stella’s such a caring and sweet soul, and you want her to have everything she’s ever wanted. Which soon becomes Michael.

I don’t think there are enough good words to use to describe Michael. Caring, thoughtful, attentive, gorgeous, loving, funny, tender, creative, smart… you get the idea. He definitely has things he has to work through though. He has issues with his father and has to learn that just because his father is a terrible human, doesn’t automatically make Michael one as well. He is his own person and won’t become his father —> but Michael has to learn that on his own.

Both Stella’s and Michael’s individual character growth was lovely to read. Seeing how these characters navigated new situations, unexpected feelings, and stepping out of their comfort zone, was one of the reasons why this was just an enjoyable and unputdownable story.

I loved how Stella and Michael were as a couple, even if it was just ‘practice.’ They were so sweet together and you could tell as a reader that this wasn’t as much as a practice relationship as it was a real one.

A big part of the story is consent, but it’s done in a way that shows that it doesn’t hinder the romantic aspect of consensual sex. It actually makes the scenes that much hotter in my opinion. Michael uses consent as a way to figure out what Stella is comfortable with and to get her comfortable with being intimate. He never does anything she isn’t okay with and instead of trying to convince her, he consistently tells her to let him know if she’s uncomfortable and that they can move onto something else. He listens and pays attention to her verbal and nonverbal cues in a way that shows he truly cares about her. It is a great example that shows that consent doesn’t ruin the mood, it only adds to the intimacy.

All of this is a testament to Hoang’s writing and storytelling ability. She brings you into the story right away by exposing Stella’s vulnerabilities. You can’t help but feel compelled to read to find out what happens. I did my best to drag out my reading time on this. Even going so far as to leave the epilogue to the next morning so it wouldn’t be over.

I cannot recommend this book enough. If you love romance, if you love a great story and even better characters, read this book!

Small little disclaimer for those of you who don’t normally read romance. You should know this one is quite steamy. In my opinion, it added to the story and was necessary for the characters’ journeys. Personally, I don’t like sex scenes for the sake of having a sex scene. They have to have a greater purpose, and I think these did. Just wanted to give y’all new to the genre a heads up!

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This commission helps to maintain this blog.


Excerpt

“You’ve watched Pretty Woman too many times. Kissing doesn’t mean anything, and it’s always best if you’re not thinking too much in bed. Trust me,” he said.

Her mouth thinned into a stubborn line. “This is too important for me not to think. I’d rather not kiss anymore if you don’t mind.”

Michael’s irritation redoubled, and he forced his hands to relax before he popped all his blood vessels. How the hell had he gotten himself into this? Ah yes, he’d been worried about his escort colleagues taking advantage of her. Stupid of him. His life was complicated enough without worrying about his clients. This was exactly why he had the one-session policy.

He would have backed out—it was tempting—but he’d promised. He always carried through on his promises. It was his way of balancing out the universe. His dad had broken enough promises for the both of them.

“All right,” he made himself say. “No kissing.”

“Do the other plans look okay?” she asked.

He forced himself to read them and found them pretty similar, only she’d moved from hand jobs to blowjobs and changed the sexual positions.

Amused despite himself, he said, “I’m surprised you used the terms ‘doggy style’ and ‘cow girl.’”

Her cheeks went bright red, and she adjusted her glasses. “I’m inexperienced, not clueless.”

“Your plans are missing something important.” He held his hand out, and she placed the pen in his palm with wary motions.

She tilted her head to the side as she watched him write FOREPLAY at the top of all the plans in capital letters. As an afterthought, he drew a box in front of each iteration with hard stabs of the pen.

“But why? I was under the impression men don’t need it.”

“You do,” he said flatly.

She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “You don’t have to bother with me.”

He narrowed his eyes. “It’s not a bother. Most men like foreplay. I do. Getting a woman hot is satisfying as hell.” Besides, he was not having sex with her if she wasn’t ready. No fucking way.

Swallowing, she stared down at the menu. “So you’re saying I don’t have a chance to improve.”

“What? No.” His mind scrambled to figure out why she might say that and came up with nothing.

“You saw how I reacted. It was one button.”

“And then you slept with me all night. You were basically naked, and you cling.”

“Are you two ready to order?” the waitress interjected. Judging by the amused glimmer in her eyes, she’d caught the last part of their conversation.

Stella perused the dinner options, her nails picking at the fabric edging of the menu.

“We’ll have the special,” Michael said.

“Wise choice. I’ll leave you to it.” The waitress winked, gathered the menus, and disappeared.

“What’s the special?” Stella asked.

“I have no idea. Let’s hope it’s not woolly.”

A troubled frown bracketed her mouth, and she leaned forward hesitantly, meeting his eyes for the briefest second. “What exactly do you mean by ‘cling?’”

Michael grinned. “It means you like to cuddle when you’re asleep.”

“Oh.”

She looked so horrified Michael couldn’t help laughing. “I confess to liking it.” Which was the truth, and unlike him. Cuddling was an obligatory thing he did for his clients because he understood they needed it. He usually spent the time counting the seconds until he could leave and go home to shower. Holding Stella had been nothing like that. They hadn’t had sex, so there’d been nothing to wash away, and the trusting way she’d curled into him had made him feel things he didn’t want to think about.


Helen Hoang Author Photo_Photo by Eric Kieu
Meet the Author: Helen Hoang

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.

Follow Helen: Website – GoodreadsTwitterInstagramFacebookPinterest

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Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren – Review

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Title: Love and Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages:
432
Genre: 
Women’s Fiction, Romance
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Source: Publisher
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Synopsis:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head 

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Blog Tour: Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid

MOI BT BANNER

MOI copyTitle: Marriage of Inconvenience
Series:
 Knitting in the City #7
Author: Penny Reid
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Publication Date: March 6, 2017
Source: ARC
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5 Stars

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SYNOPSIS:
There are three things you need to know about Kat Tanner (aka Kathleen Tyson. . . and yes, she is *that* Kathleen Tyson): 1) She’s determined to make good decisions, 2) She must get married ASAP, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Being a billionaire heiress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks. Determined to live 

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – Review

An American Marriage coverAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher (ARC)

5/5 Stars

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Synopsis:

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in 

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Blog Tour: The Beau & The Belle by R.S. Grey – Review

TB&TBEbookCover.pngThe Beau & The Belle by R.S. Grey
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Publisher: R.S. Grey
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Format: eBook
Source: ARC

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Synopsis: 

Beau Fortier starred in most of my cringe-worthy teenage fantasies.

I met him when I was a junior in high school, a time that revolved exclusively around bad hair, failed forays into flirting, and scientific inquiries into which brand of toilet paper worked best for stuffing bras.

That is, until Beau moved into the small guest house just beyond my bedroom window.

A 24-year-old law student at Tulane, Beau was as mysterious to me as second base (both in 

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The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory – Review

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory35259631
Publisher: 
Berkley Books
Publication Date:
January 30, 2018
Genres: 
Contemporary Romance
Pages: 
304
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC

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Synopsis: 

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck within an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too

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