Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lying in Shadows by Sofia Grey

Marianne needs to find who's leaking secrets from her company, before they lose another major contract. What she doesn't need is an affair with her married boss. Even worse, to fall in love with him.

She discovers the security leak is more than a case of commercial espionage: someone is lying in the shadows, playing games with them. Now more than her heart and career are at stake--her life is on the line.

Where to Buy

Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I've made little secret in the past about how much I love Sofia Grey's Talisman series as well as the stand-alones that are set in the same world and involve some of the same characters. Thus I was fairly confident going into this one that I was going to love it just as much as I have all the others. We've met most of the main players here in previous books (and if you've read them you kind of have a few spoilers for some of what happens here), but there are a few new faces as well. Their stories here are engaging, and the writing is certainly up to Ms. Grey's usual standards, but something wasn't fully there for me with it as a whole. Perhaps I simply was deliberately staying disengaged from some of the characters because I knew from previous books generally how their story would play out, even if I didn't know the specifics. Or perhaps having to read it in bits and pieces over the course of several weeks as I have to read most things these days is to blame. Whatever the case, though it is definitely a solid 4 stars for me, perhaps pushing close to 4.5 stars even, there were a few things that were a bit off-putting for me.

If the book has weaknesses, characterization is not one of them. Sure, some old friends from previous books who only play a small part in this one only get a cursory treatment perhaps, but even then they aren't flat. Shifting POV is used quite adeptly to not only allow us to see the situations from various vantage points, but also gives us the chance to get inside most of the main players heads and really get to know them. Knowing what's motivating them and how they are struggling with their own consciences about things that are going on really helps the reader to have sympathy for them even when their actions paint them in a bad light. You agonize over the decisions right along with them, and though you may or may not agree with the choices they make, you can at least be assured that they did not make them lightly. It also makes it hard not to respect the fact that they all own up to their own behavior and don't shy away from the consequences they have to face because of it.

My main problem with the book I think is that there was just a bit too much going on, and at times it couldn't seem to decide what its main focus was. That lessens by the end as you get to see how the various, seemingly somewhat separate storylines are all part of or revolving around a central pillar, but it doesn't change the fact that it often seems to bounce around a bit too much along the way. There are several relationships on display here, both established ones and newly forming ones. Almost too many. It makes it a bit hard to focus on any one couple, and for a short while things get so tangled with characters being pulled in a few different ways by attraction and/or a sense of duty that it gets a little hard to keep up. And honestly, I wasn't really feeling it with all of the couples. To be fair, in some cases it was clear that the characters themselves weren't really feeling it, they just felt like they should or were supposed to for some reason, but in others the characters were apparently feeling it for each other while I just wasn't. Much as I would love to be more specific as to which couple didn't work for me, I don't want to give too many spoilers so I'll refrain.

On the subject of spoilers, I do feel somewhat obliged to make note of one thing that is a bit of a spoiler but is also something I know is an important issue to many readers and one they would want to know about. Then again, it is alluded to in the official blurb that I pasted in at the top of the post, so maybe it isn't that much of a spoiler. I'm talking, of course, about the fact that there is cheating involved in this book. It's not a deal-breaker issue for me personally, and I do feel that it was handled with the appropriate amount of gravity and consequences, so it didn't really bother me all that much. The characters don't enter into it lightly, and it does affect how the other characters act towards them once the secret comes out, so while I might have wrinkled my nose a bit at it a few times, overall I was OK with it as part of the story. Real life isn't always pretty after all, and I appreciate it when fiction acknowledges that and isn't afraid to incorporate some of the ugliness that many deal with or create. If cheating is an absolute deal-breaker for you in romance fiction and you can't accept it regardless, then you may wish to give this one a pass and consider starting the series with the next book.

To wrap things up here, I know that much of what I've said about this book probably comes off as being rather negative so I feel I should reiterate that I really did enjoy it overall. Ms. Grey is a wonderful storyteller that weaves so much depth into both her stories and her characters that I am always simply amazed by her works. Just when you think you have a situation or a character figured out, she throws in a twist, peels back another layer, and leaves you guessing as to whether you'll ever truly know who these people are or what exactly is going on. Not every writer, even the good ones, have the skill to weave the intricate sort of webs that Grey does and I do believe that you will never regret time spent with one of her books. They can't all be perfect though, and for me, though I thought it very good and am looking forward to reading more in this series, I'm not sure it will ever rank as one of my favorites of hers.

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