Devious Lies by Parker S. Huntington – Read or Skip?
Parker S. Huntington is a pretty popular name among romance readers, with novels such as Darling Venom, Devious Lies, and Asher Black being some of the readers’ favorites. She’s also a USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon bestselling author.
For this post, I’ll be focusing on her novel Devious Lies, which features Emery Winthrop and Nash Prescott. Devious Lies is the first book in the Cruel Crown series but can be read as a standalone. There are also at least two more books the author has planned for the series. However, they haven’t been published yet. The book ends with a HEA (happily ever after) and does not have a cliffhanger.
Below you can find a summary, a personal analysis of the things I liked and disliked, plus a guide to help you figure out if you want to give this story a try or not.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
Plus, if you’re a fan of ENEMIES TO LOVERS mixt with DARK ROMANCE, you can check out my reviews of these 5 really dark novels.
Told in dual points of view, Devious Lies follows the story of Emery Winthrop and Nash Prescott, starting when they were 15 and 25 years old.
Emery and Nash have known each other for years. She is the rich princess, the daughter of the founder of Winthrop Textile, while he is her best friend’s (Reed) older brother and the help’s son.
That is until everything goes south. A scandal erupts involving the Winthrop family and the company the locals invested in for a better future. Corruption accusations are made, nobody gets arrested, and two people die following the downfall of Winthrop Textile.
Life as Emery knew it changes dramatically. She distances herself from both her parents and enrolls at university. To make matters worse, she has no access to her trust fund, so she’s barely surviving trying to make ends meet. So it’s no surprise that she’s in desperate need of a job.
After five years away from home, she reluctantly comes back and gets a job at none other than Nash’s company. The tables have turned and now Nash is the rich one while Emery is poor. This fits right into his revenge agenda because he wants to pay back all the people responsible for his loss and pain.
Favorite aspects of the books
- 1. The memorable and relatable quotes
Parker S. Huntington definitely has a unique writing style. Though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (at some points, not even mine), she deserves credit for this. Here are some of her words that are favorites among romance readers. And if
- 2. The main characters have depth and the author gives us a look into their inner thoughts.
I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of reader who needs access to the characters’ thoughts and emotions in order to connect to them and make the story more immersive. Plus, I see it as a sign that the author has put effort into it.
I think this is a MUST in any novel, but particularly in romance.
The main characters have known each other since they were kids and have always had a curious dynamic between them. He was the guy who caught anyone’s interest with his mysterious ways. Back then, he was unattainable to her.
When they meet again, their relationship takes a different turn. She’s not a teenager anymore, and he’s no longer powerless. The author uses the age gap well and creates more tension.
There’s some witty banter in there to make their dialogues more entertaining and provocative.
- 4. The pen pal idea
Though, again, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I thought it was cute. It isn’t the main plot and the author didn’t overdo it. She revealed early on to the reader the identity of the pen-pals, which everyone suspected the minute she introduced it anyway. Granted, there were moments throughout the book when the characters themselves should’ve realized who their pen pal was. However, I could suspend my disbelief for this.
What I didn’t like about Devious Lies
- 1. I had the feeling that the author put too much emphasis on her writing style and too little on actually moving the story forward
I know I said before that I appreciate some aspects of her writing style (and I do), but what’s too much, I don’t appreciate. At times, I thought she was trying too hard to be smart, coming up with observations that were a little out of place for me. Here’s an example:
See quote from the book
“Chantilly stood by the door, the smile slipping from her face when she realized I wasn’t going to invite her in. “Umm…” She upped her smile until she resembled Jack Nicholson’s Joker and snagged a seat on the chair in front of my desk.
(For the record, Heath Ledger played the best Joker, and I’d annihilate anyone who argues with me about it)“
What’s more, oftentimes I found myself unsure of the timeframe of the action and forgot what the characters had been doing previously. That is because she ends the chapters with a certain scene, and then the next begins with inner monologues or memories from years ago. But then she reintroduces you to the scene the previous chapter ends with.
Because of these aspects, she lost me more than one time.
- 2. Too long
Although this is a slow-burn romance and I knew from the beginning it’s long, it was unpleasantly long. I don’t have a problem with long books, but if I’m not that interested in it and the author doesn’t manage to keep my interest, I do mind, as I think is the case for most readers, right?
- 3. The main characters
It’s not that I completely dislike them. There are some likable aspects to them.
The heroine, Emery, is so stubborn to the point of being too stupid to live, in my opinion.
Minor Spoiler alert!
Refusing food when you are starving and can’t allow paying for something else? Just because of your pride??
Also, she has this habit of uttering weird, random words no one knows the meaning of. To ground her or keep her calm or something. This is supposed to make her quirky, I guess, but it comes across as annoying to me. This can also be attributed to the author’s trying too hard.
The hero, Nash, comes across as an immature, frustrated bully at times, insulting and mistreating the people working for him. He is also a bit of a hypocrite. I guess he is supposed to be the sexy a$$hole or alpha-hole, but I can only see him as a teenager throwing tantrums.
I also didn’t appreciate him excessively using the words “fuck” and/or “fucking” because it felt unnatural and overdone.
- 4. The plot
The idea, I liked. The execution? Not so much. Some aspects didn’t make sense to me. Example below if you don’t mind spoilers. It’s not a huge and revealing spoiler, so it’s safe to read it.
Minor Spoiler alert!
For example, when Nash finds the ledger he stole belonged to Virginia, Emery’s mom, and not to Gideon (her dad). Why is that so important? I’m pretty sure it is, but we’re not let in on that information. It’s only later in the story that we are finally told. How am I supposed to make sense of something if you don’t share a bit of context? Either that or I missed something when skimming.
Also, there is a subplot there I just don’t see the purpose of. It’s about the relationship between the two brothers, Nash and Reed. Something happened in the past, and they become very cold towards each other.
It’s mainly that Reed starts to hate(?) Nash, while Nash just accepts it. The author tells us almost nothing about what caused this situation until very late into the story.
Plus, I didn’t “feel” the hate Nash was supposed to have for Gideon (Emery’s dad). Or Emery, for that matter. At some point, he was thinking about revenge and that he wanted to find Gideon’s address, and all I could think of was “Why?”
- 5. Too many references
Again, this has to do with Parker S. Huntington’s writing style. Movies, celebrities, movie characters, TV series, historic or religious events, athletes, and so on. The book mentions them all and more.
Here’s what I mean:
“Can we not mention anything Veronica Mars related? I can’t get over the ending.”
“If you showed up on a cult’s doorstep and told them Rosco is the second coming of Jesus, they’d find another cult.“
“Kobe and his torn Achilles. Beckham and his snapped Achilles. Durant and his torn Achilles”.
- 6. It gets a bit too cheesy for my liking
As I’ve said, while her writing style may not be my favorite, because it’s too dramatic and pretentious for my liking, that doesn’t mean YOU won’t like it. Just to be clear, I enjoy some of her quotes, but there are also things that I dislike.
Here are some examples:
“Tell me how you feel about my dad.” (Nash says to Emery) “Lacuna. She grabbed my hand and squeezed. Lacuna is a blank space. A missing part.” (Her response)
“What are you asking from me?” “Break me (…) Then put me back together, mismatched, scarred, and chaotic as this storm.”
This is not part of the dark romance genre, but I still want to include a content warning, just so you know better what to expect.
It contains explicit sexual situations and language, a scene that can qualify as sexual assault (at the beginning of the book, but the heroine does well to escape), a hero who is sometimes unfair to the heroine, poverty, an arguably abusive mother (but this is not the main focus of the novel).
Who do I recommend this book to?
Personally, I don’t believe I will read this author in the near future. Our styles and tastes don’t match. However, if I don’t like it, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t enjoy it.
So in case you still haven’t figured out if you want to read this, here are a few more guidelines. Give this book a try if you:
- like slow-burn enemies-to-lovers
- don’t mind a 700-page-long book
- are into billionaire romance where the hero used to be poor and the heroine rich, but then the tables turn
- want a hero who wants revenge on the heroine and her family
- you like best friend’s brother type of romance
- a bit of age gap
- like Mariana Zapata, Penelope Douglas, and LJ Shen books
- are into a more poetic and dramatic writing style
Also, if you’re looking for emotional romance reads that are well-written and memorable, check out this guide.
Before you go, here are a few more REVIEWS that might interest you:
JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte
WHERE THE BLAME LIES by Mia Sheridan
DARKEST DEEDS by Cora Kenborn
FIND HER by Lisa Gardner