Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Liar is quintessential Fiona Cole: a storyline that draws you in and holds you in place, a hero whose struggle breaks and remolds him into a better man, and a heroine whose strength and energy lies at the core of the hero’s evolution. What is profound about Cole’s storytelling is her ability to keep it fresh. She clearly has a thing for the forbidden, at least in her Voyeur world. Yet, each of the Voyeur books finds its individual footing. And Liar is no different. It continues to show Cole’s prowess at writing steamy, forbidden romance.
It’s too simplistic to call this an “age-gap” romance. It is true with the heroine, Olivia, being a bit more than a decade younger than Kent, the hero of the story. Yet, their story illustrates that age is only a number. For the most part, Olivia is more emotionally mature than Kent, unapologetically promiscuous. Even in her youth, she shows a maturity that sometimes is lost on Kent. The story is simple: young woman and older man meet at a club. Their chemistry is instantaneous; they fall into each other quickly. Older man finds out that younger woman is much younger than him, but she is legal and they succumb to their lust for each other. At a later date, said younger woman and older man meet at a dinner, one held by older man’s best friend’s brother, and reality hits. Older man maintains his distance until he can’t as younger woman comes to intern with him, and his attraction and interest in her multiplies as he comes to know her beyond her outer beauty. Younger woman subtly charms the man, wanting to relive her passionate night with older man. Very quickly, older man falls for her charms, and the two consummate their lust. Older man’s kink prevails, and the younger woman begins to fall for him. Even more, the older man, who previously was promiscuous and happy with it, begins to fall for her. However, complications prevail: they are hiding their relationship from younger woman’s uncle/older man’s best friend and younger woman wants to hide it to protect the way that her uncle perceives her. Much is complicated with their relationship except their growing love for each other.
It would be too simplistic to tell you that Fiona Cole’s books are fiery. Besides the types of romance that one might consider smut, Cole writes her way deftly through her bedroom (and other places) scenes. In fact, she writes some of the hottest $ex scenes of anyone who isn’t writing smut. And I love that about her. It’s a guarantee that she will set your panties on fire.
Yet, there is something more to her books, bigger lessons that she shares through the story and characters. In this book, this message is wrapped in the character of Olivia. Olivia is a beautiful young woman raised in a wealthy household. Her parents view her through a narrow filter: they see her as a socialite, someone who will end up on the arm of a rich and powerful man. In their narrow view of her, Olivia’s parents miss out on her essence: an intelligent, strong, insightful young woman. They can only see her outer beauty, and they fail to notice her strengths. It is Uncle Daniel who truly sees Olivia. He nurtures it; he encourages it; and he guides it. As such, her relationship with Kent becomes a potential hindrance in her relationship with her uncle, and Olivia becomes the cog in the wheel of their romantic journey. As Daniel’s best friend, Kent recognizes that Daniel will struggle at first, but he knows Daniel will eventually accept them. Olivia, however, fears that Daniel will rewrite his perspective of her, and in a world where women fight to be seen as more than their outer beauty, Olivia proffers a dangerous response: she wants to hide Kent from her family, from her uncle. In her characterization of Olivia, Cole shows us the challenges of women and control. How do you control people’s respect for you when you perceive that your actions may undermine you? It’s this complication that Cole uses to add depth to her story. With Olivia’s characterization, Cole’s readers might look inward and ask of themselves all the ways they undermine themselves to gain acceptance. In the world of romance, this is a necessary insight because so much of the way that women in romance are written dangerously usurps their value. In Olivia, we find a resolute, creative, brilliant woman. Even when she shows her age in her denial of Kent, she still stands in her power of choice. This is the wisdom of Cole’s Liar.
To be honest, at the outset of Liar, Kent is fairly shallow. He objectifies women. He puts little effort into actually pursuing them or keeping them, which makes him reckless. It is Olivia who transforms him, forcing him to evolve and grow. It’s my favorite heroic journey in romance: when the alpha male is brought to his knees through his love for a heroine who can stand against and with him. Cole develops Kent’s evolution well, and I think the thing I loved most about him is his willingness to tell his friend, Daniel, about his interest in his niece. Cole doesn’t make us suffer through two people struggling to hide their relationship. Instead, she demonstrates Kent’s maturity in his understanding of his friend. Honestly, if you didn’t know any better, you might think that Kent and Daniel are the true romance here. It’s fresh to read a male friendship where the two recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses and maturely embrace them. For me, that was the surprise of Liar’s story.
Fiona Cole continues to surprise and entertain her readers with her astute storytelling. She’s the queen of writing hot, kinky $ex. She’s not afraid to “go there,” and I love that about her because it makes for a steamy page-turning read. But don’t be fooled by that because her storytelling is much more than the steam on the page. Liar demonstrates her capacity to tell a story with meaning, one that applies to the lives of her readers. We can read ourselves into the core of Olivia’s struggle to be seen and accepted for more than her outer beauty. We can commiserate with her want to protect her most vital relationship, and Cole makes us feel deeply for the turmoil between Kent and Olivia as they struggle to find their happy ending. Fiona Cole brilliantly entertains time and time again because she finds a spot for all of us in her Voyeur world.
In love and romance,