Title: Lie to Me
Author: Starr Ambrose
Copyright: 2008 (Pocket); 371 pgs.
Who: Eleanor “Ellie” Coggins and John “Jack” Payton
Eleanor Coggins is absolutely sure that her best friend, Janet Aims, was killed by her husband. Her goal is to prove that Banner Westfield murdered Janet. To that end, she breaks into Banner’s private library during a house party. Before she can learn anything useful, she encounters Jack Payton, Banner’s older, half-brother, and she believes the gig is up, so to speak.
Jack, however, is also convinced that Banner is up to no good. The company is making too much money in certain areas, and he’s sure his brother is somehow connected to the drug trade. Eleanor non-specific comments regarding his brother’s activities makes Jack believe she is pursuing the same information. He’s willing to help Eleanor, if she’ll pretend to be is fiancée.
Jack was recently released from prison, where he was spent two years ago after being found guilty of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence. While he was in prison, he learned that he has a twelve-year-old daughter named Libby — a daughter he never knew existed. Currently, Libby is living with his mother Elizabeth in Banner’s house, but Jack is working on getting that changed. Instead of trying to deny paternity or wash his hands of her, Jack very much wants to take responsibility of Libby and be a father. In order to get custody of her, he has to prove himself by maintaining a steady job — he grudgingly accepted a lower position in the family company where he was once a VP, instead of trying his luck elsewhere with a criminal record. Having a fiancée, Jack believes, will also make a favorable impression and improve his chances of getting custody of Libby.
At first Ellie — as Jack calls her — doesn’t want to have anything to do with deceiving a vulnerable 12-year-old girl. However, she agrees, promising to keep an eye on Libby, so she won’t be further traumatized. Ellie needn’t have worried though. It doesn’t take her long to realize how sincere he is about gaining custody of his daughter. Though he still struggling to get things right, Jack has good instincts and the potential to be a great father.
It goes without saying that Ellie and Jack are attracted to each other. Jack, at first, believes it’s due to the fact that he just got out of prison. But instead of waning, his interest in Ellie grows the more time he spends getting to know her. The same goes for Ellie (except the prison part). She can’t resist his devastating smile and his to-die-for-kisses. Ellie starts to fall in love with the man she sees behind the grin, the man who is trying so hard to earn his daughter’s love and affection. Falling in love is something she didn’t want to happen because they’re not really engaged and Jack’s way out of her league socially.
Once they agree to cooperate with each other, Jack and Ellie set out to find evidence that connects Banner to drug running and murder. They also uncover something unexpected in Banner’s files, something that impacts Jack directly. On Ellie’s advise, Jack enlists the aid of the chief of police, Ben Thatcher, a man who — when Jack was growing up — was always on his case, lecturing him about his wild ways. Jack doesn’t understand why Ben seems to hate him, but that’s nothing compared to the fact that Ben is spending a lot of time with his mother lately — and Jack doesn’t like that one bit. Jack and Ellie also get help from an unexpected source, one that solves what happened to Janet and also confirms whether or not Banner had a hand it in or not. Jack even calls in a friend to help Ellie with her fake security company she created to throw Banner off guard.
I really loved this book. One of the things I liked was that, absurd as it was for Ellie to break into the Banner’s house in the first place, Ellie never came across as a too-stupid-to-live heroine. She may be completely clueless about computers and can’t keep a job — even her cousin fired her from his hardware store because she talked people out of buying things. But Ellie can think on her feet and has a way with people that makes her likable, whether she’s chatting with the gathered Payton and Westfield relatives or talking to clients with her “business associate”, Rocky. And then there’s Jack. Being sent to jail opened his eyes and he’s put his wild past behind him. He truly is a decent guy and I fell in love with him, right along with Ellie, as he slowly wins Libby’s affections.
Lie to Me was a fun read and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.
Started: 9 June 2009
Finished: 28 June 2009
This is a re-post, due to data loss. Reconstructed comments from Google Reader. (Oct 09)
26 Aug – Carol – “Sounds like a fun book, with very likeable characters. I’m assuming there’s a happy ending.”
26 Aug – Me – “Oh yes! :-)”