My mom is an avid Nora Roberts fan. I used to be as well, but in recent years I’ve become less avid, but it’s hard to resist a shiny new hardcover from the library, so when Mom finished up her copy of The Liar a week before it was due, I snagged it.
The book opens with Shelby, a young widow with a three year old daughter, coming off the news of her husband’s tragic death in a sailing accident. Richard was an investor of some sort – Shelby’s not really sure; it was a whirlwind romance and he didn’t like her to worry her pretty little head about such matters – but after his death, it comes out that Richard was broke. And now, so is Shelby. More than broke, actually; Richard left her with millions of dollars of debt.
Forced to sell the McMansion she hated anyway, as well as most of the furniture, which she also hated, Shelby packs up her little girl, her few belongings, and two hundred thousand dollars – as well as some fake IDs and a gun – she found in Richard’s safe deposit box, and heads for home. Home is Rendezvous Ridge, where her family has lived for decades. Her dad is the town doctor, her mother and grandmother run the local day spa, and her brother is a police officer.
Once home, a private investigator comes knocking, and once the dead bodies begin piling up, Shelby realizes Richard may not have been what he said he was. In fact, Richard may not have existed at all. Her friends and family rally around her, though, including her former BFF Emma Kate, with whom she had a falling out when she left town the first time, and Griffin, the town’s Yankee contractor, who falls in love not only with Shelby but her little girl as well.
I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that Richard’s not really dead, and the fact that it took Shelby about 350 pages to realize that when I figured it out after three kind of drove me nuts. And while I don’t want to say that Shelby’s recovery from the crippling debt was easy – it’s never easy to sell your home and your dead husband’s clothes, even if you hated the home and the husband – it was tied up pretty neatly, and felt even more unrealistic than the usual romance novel suspension of disbelief.
I also felt like I could see a lot of J.D. Robb coming through in this novel, and I’ve noticed that more and more in her last few books. It’s nothing overly specific, more of the rhythm and certain turns of phrase. And it can’t be easy taking off her J.D. Robb hat and putting on her Nora Roberts hat, but if I wanted to read J.D. Robb, I’d pick up J.D. Robb. Lord knows there are eleventy billion to choose from.
Years ago, my mom and I used to read Danielle Steele all the time. Zoya was my all time favorite. (I was fifteen – what can I say?) But as the years went on, my mom would read her latest and say, “It was okay, but I think she needed to buy another car, so she wrote another book.” That’s kind of how I feel about The Liar. It was okay, but I think maybe Roberts wanted a new car.