This is a review of Parker S. Huntington’s Devious Lies, an “enemies to lovers book” that fits into the slow-burn romance novels genre.
Devious Lies is the first book in the Cruel Crown series but can be read as a standalone. Currently, two more books have been announced to be written in the series, but have not yet been published. The novel ends with a HEA (happily ever after) and does not have a cliffhanger.
Here is what you will find below:
- A summary of the book
- What I liked about Devious Lies
- What I DID NOT like about it
- Some content warnings I think readers would want to know
- If I recommend this enemies to lovers book and to whom
- And finally, my rating and final thoughts
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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. Estranged from both her parents, enrolled at university, and with no access to her trust fund, she finds herself barely surviving.
Fast-forward a few years, and we find Emery in need of a job. This is how the two of them meet again. But Nash has a certain agenda, and revenge is written all over it. He lost someone in the aftermath of that scandal.
So above is a fairly objective synopsis of the novel. I know some readers only prefer to read what the book is about and that’s it, while others want to know more. Things like what someone thought about it, what they liked and disliked. This is obviously my personal, biased opinion:
What I Liked About This Enemies To Lovers Book
- There are some nice, memorable and relatable quotes that stay with you when you’re done.
Love her or hate her, this author definitely has a unique voice. While I may not like everything about the way she writes (see below “What I didn’t like about Devious Lies”), she does have a way with words.
You know when you read something and have the feeling you’ve read that before? Not the story, but the words used to build the story. This, Parker S. Huntington does well. She’s original. Here’s an example (NO spoilers, but don’t read if you don’t want a glimpse inside the book):
- An insightful look into the character’s inner thoughts.
I don’t quite like it when authors mechanically write what the characters are doing or wearing. To me, it becomes an enumeration of actions that lack depth. I need meaningful monologues and introspection in order to get to know and empathize with the characters.
This book has that (more than necessary – read the “What I didn’t like” section). It makes them relatable, unique, and memorable.
- The chemistry between the main characters.
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.
- The pen pal idea
To be honest, at first, I thought it was stupid. But Parker S. Huntington did a good thing here. 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.
So, I ended up enjoying it. It made for a few endearing (and hot) moments.
What I Didn’t Like About Devious Lies
- The feeling 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:
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)Devious lies by parker s. huntington
She rambled on about so many unimportant details, like recollection of some events in the past, or the characters’ line of thoughts that were simply irrelevant for the progression of the story.
I’m not a fan of throwbacks in books. It would have to be very captivating for me to enjoy it, and it isn’t the case here. To her credit, she kept that chapter reasonably short.
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 useless inner monologues or memories from years ago. But then she reintroduces you to the scene the previous chapter ends with. It’s like, “Get to the point already!”
I did a lot of skimming because I felt I wasn’t missing anything important.
And also, probably because of all these aspects, she didn’t manage to keep me interested. I didn’t care about the characters, wasn’t curious what would happen. I read it to finish it.
- Too long.
If this book taught me something is that there is such a thing as too slow for slow-burn. I mean, 700 pages? Had this been considerably shorter, it would have been much better, also!
There’s not much to explain here. Basically, the argument above explains this one too.
- 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. 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.
Not to mention the excessive and useless use of the words “fuck” and/or “fucking”. It felt unnatural and overdone.
- The plot.
The idea, I liked. The execution? Not so much. Some aspects didn’t make sense to me. 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.
So that was a missed opportunity.
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.
Plus, I didn’t “feel” the hate Nash was supposed to have for Gideon. 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?”
The purpose of the whole book seems to have been forgotten somewhere throughout the story, before reaching the resolution.
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.
The problem with this is that it DID NOT keep me guessing (like maybe it was intended). It kept me frustrated because it was an unexplained drama I didn’t see the point of.
So I think the problem is that she creates so many puzzles from the start, but doesn’t reveal enough to get me hooked on the plot.
- The many references.
Again, I think this has to do with Parker S. Huntington’s writing style and trying too hard. This is the feeling it left me with. 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”.
All of the above? In just one chapter!!
- It contains the contagious betraying body syndrome.
There’s a scene in the first half of the book that let’s just say is a big no-no. It involves Nash being a jerk and Emery letting him (and wanting him to) do to her some sex-related things that you simply don’t do at that point. I mean, have some self-respect! And get a brain, because that simply CANNOT end well!
- The amount of cringy lines between Emery and Nash.
This has to do mainly with the heroine. She is the one saying and communicating in weird ways no one actually understands or uses. Here it is:
“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.”
I just didn’t feel it. This…mood. Everything felt unnatural and dramatic and pretentious. But that’s just me. There are a lot of people who like this thing.
- The author didn’t make me feel much.
Again, this is probably due to the first aspects I mentioned. I didn’t feel sad when Emery struggled to survive. Didn’t feel anything when Nash was being harsh on her.
Oh, I know! I did feel something when she was being ridiculously stupid, refusing the food she badly needed. Annoyed and frustrated is what I felt.
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.
If you’re looking for a long slow-burn, age gap, enemies to lovers, poor-turned-rich type of romance, written in a more dramatic and let’s say poetic style, you may appreciate this.
There’s a high chance that if you like Mariana Zapata’s books, this could be for you.
However, if you’re looking for something fast and steamy, this ISN’T it! Maybe try it some other time.
My Rating For Devious Lies
Using the Goodreads scale from one to five stars, I would give this one a 3. It has potential. If only the author had paid as much attention to the story as she’d paid to the writing style.
To conclude, I think what best describes Devious Lies for me is to say that it has a lot of talking and not much happening. Sure, the words are sometimes beautifully put together. Other times they feel uncomfortably weird. The characters, while having chemistry and some likable traits to them, do not do much to improve the story.
So this is my Devious Lies book review. Hope you found it useful.
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