Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
Charleigh Rose’s Tell Me Pretty Lies released almost a week ago, and I finally sat down to read it. I had been anxiously awaiting it, hoping for my ARC before release. That wasn’t to be, so forgive the late review.
Here’s the thing: I am a fan of bully romance. I’ve read some great authors who have written it well, and some who could have done a bit more work. Some readers struggle with it because it can be overwhelming emotionally, especially since the heroine tends to be the object of the bullying. Charleigh Rose tends to have a knack for writing this type of romance, and early readers espoused their love for Tell Me Pretty Lies. My review is a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest.
Let me begin with my struggles.
For one, the beginning of this story is very confusing. I stopped my reading of the story and began reading other early reviews because I thought I had missed a novella or another story somewhere. When I saw that I wasn’t the only reviewer confused by a lack of details, I ignored my confusion and kept reading. This was a good tactic. As the story progresses, I fell further into the story, absolving Rose of keeping her reader in the dark. The confusion of the story lies in “why” the hero, Thayer, and his brother, Holden, turn their backs on Shayne, the heroine, and why they are insistent on “destroying” her life. Thayer hates her immediately, and the reader doesn’t understand why until much later in the story. To be honest, I’m not sure how Rose could have made it less confusing unless she developed more background to the story. Character development was lacking at first, assuming the reader was already familiar with the characters and their world. Offering this sooner in the story might have alleviated the confusion.
Secondly, even after the revelation of Thayer’s disdain for Shayne, it felt contrived. I hate using that word as it oftentimes undermines the writer’s purpose. Yet, I struggled with accepting Thayer’s issues with Shayne. Yes. I understood them, but they seemed like a stretch at best.
These two issues are the core of the reason for my overall grade. That being said, there is much that I loved about the story.
For one, I couldn’t put this story down. I began it in the late afternoon and didn’t sleep until the last page (somewhere around 3 a.m.). Rose drives the story forward with the conflict between Thayer and Shayne’s strong attraction and aversion towards each other. In fact, the push and pull of their relationship is the strongest part of Tell Me Pretty Lies.
As characters, Shayne and Thayer are typical of this genre of romance. Thayer is the rich guy with a rebellious attitude, and Shayne is the “good girl” who is finding herself as the story progresses. As Thayer’s attraction to her both compels and repels him, Shayne develops into a stronger heroine. Given her background, she already holds many positive character traits: persistent, tenacious, strong, insightful. Yet, Rose evolves her into someone who becomes more self-assured that she can stand against Thayer when “enough is enough.” Until that moment, though, be prepared to become frustrated with her, as she acts on her attraction to him time and time again, while being rejected shortly after. When she finally strengthens her backbone, Shayne becomes the heroine you want her to be.
This story is also romantic suspense. There is a suspicious death that creates the underlying drama of the romance. This too propels the reader further into the story. The perpetrator of the situation isn’t initially obvious, but I did figure it out before it was eventually revealed. If you love this type of romance, then Rose offers a story that will engage you.
Charleigh Rose’s Tell Me Pretty Lies offers a story of personal resilience. Shayne’s journey to embracing herself and falling in love with Thayer is worthy of a read. Nonetheless, I was underwhelmed by the romance. I had such high expectations for it, but it confused me as much as it titillated me. I’ve read Charleigh Rose previously and professed my interest in her storytelling. Tell Me Pretty Lies has a story that will grab you, but you may finish it wondering if you missed something. I will say that I plan to read Holden’s story, the next book of the series, so there is much in Rose’s world that will keep me reading.
In love and romance,