Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: The Truth in Lies

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One of the most amazing perks of writing and publishing Twilight fan fiction novels chapter-by-chapter in serial-style (we're following in the literary footsteps of Charles Dickens, after all) is the amazing authors I've come to know as I read their work and they read mine. And as some of my favorite fan fiction stories are being revised into original fiction novels, these former fan fiction stories and their talented authors deserve our support.

Obviously, the most famous example of Twilight fan fictions being revised is the Shades of Grey trilogy. While I never read the fan fiction version of this bestselling trilogy, I've been a bit loathe to read them because of its blatantly erotic subject matter. However, I do want to support and spread the news of some of my favorite fan fiction authors and their amazing accomplishments.  

Jeanne McDonald is one of those authors. I read the original version of her The Truth in Lies Saga on under the pen name Sparklingwand, and I loved A Different Kind of Pain so much that I read it THREE times. (Yes, that is really *3* times--the latest over Christmas break.) So I was thrilled when the revised version of A Different Kind of Pain, now entitled The Truth in Lies was available on Amazon both in e-book and print options.

As much as I loved A Different Kind of Pain, I adore The Truth in Lies even more. Much, much more, in fact.

Here's a quick plot synopsis (minus spoilers) of The Truth in Lies: The main character, Mackenzie (formerly Bella), a speech pathologist, undergoes a traumatic experience and, when her relationship with boyfriend Nate (formerly Mike Newton) sours as a result, she moves in with her longtime best friend, the fashionable Olivia (formerly Alice). However, Mackenzie finds greater understanding, friendship, and solace in the handsome and athletic attorney, Andrew (formerly Edward), Olivia's new boyfriend, than she does from her best friend. Despite the fact that the connection and attraction between Drew and Mackenzie is immediate and undeniable, they both attempt to resist each other since Drew is still with Olivia. Complications also arise with Jared (formerly Jasper), Mackenzie's best guy friend who works with her as a music therapist and who can't stand Olivia. And, since I don't want to give away any spoilers, let's just say that "chaos ensues."

Jeanne McDonald did more than revise an already excellent novel; she completely transformed the plot details while keeping the compelling character dynamics intact; in fact, she focused and sharpened the intriguing relationships. With Drew and Mackenzie, she added more complexities, more uncertainties between them yet also removed some of the moral culpability for their feelings and actions, placing the reader squarely on their side. In the first version, some events occurred between them that would definitely be classified as "cheating." Although I loved the characters of Mackenzie and Drew in the first edition, I didn't like and couldn't approve of some of their actions which muddied my feelings toward them. And with the other main characters of Nate, Olivia, and Jared, the author made their motivations far more direct and clear-cut with fewer gray areas.

My only reservation is that I truly wonder how Mackenzie could be "best friends" with someone as unlike her as possible; the character of Olivia seems to have few redeeming qualities which makes me wonder how both Mackenzie and Drew were drawn her. The good that Alice had in her seems to be absent in Olivia, yet the plot hinges on Olivia's need to get her own way however she can, no matter whom she injures. 

In addition, new characters appear in this revised edition, such as Mackenzie's parents, while others seem to have disappeared, namely the main character's first husband (formerly Jacob who has married Leah after his divorce from Bella) and their son (formerly Sam) with Asperger's (a high-functioning type of autism) who live in a different state. The overall effect of these alterations results in a more unified story that eliminates some of the questionable moral decisions made by some characters while bringing other characters into the action, creating more direct participation and less feeling of their being mere bystanders in the resulting drama.

But the big surprise was a HUGE plot twist at the end of this first volume of The Truth in Lies Saga that I did not expect; in fact, I was simply flabbergasted in the best way. (I love it when books absolutely surprise me, and considering that I had read the earlier version of this story several times, the most recent time only a month ago, shocking me was quite an accomplishment!!) The possibility of this twist never occurred to me, and I practically dropped my Kindle, jaw unattractively agape, as I read the end of this first volume.

Admittedly, this first volume ends with quite the cliffhanger--and a rather distressing one at that. It seems impossible for good to happen to our couple at the close of The Truth in Lies. Of course, I'll have to wait until the second volume, The Certainty of Deception, is published in June to find out what happens next. The suspense is delightfully delicious, and despite the bleakness of the end of this volume, we can't help hoping that good will happen to Mackenzie and Drew, formerly Bella and Edward.

And I have to admit that I am waiting quite impatiently for June 17 to arrive....

Okay, okay, I'll admit it: I'm counting the days until the appearance of The Certainty of Deception. (Just 135 days to go!! Yay!!)

I highly recommend The Truth in Lies, the first volume of The Truth in Lies Saga. It's a human-interest story with compelling characters and a plot full of twists that somehow seem completely natural and works incredibly well, taking into careful account the characters' personalities and foibles. The few weaknesses of  A Different Kind of Pain have been remedied, and a much stronger and more suspenseful novel awaits us in The Truth in Lies

I also highly recommend following Jeanne McDonald on Goodreads and her website at as she is writing and releasing additional books in 2014 and beyond. An extremely talented writer, Jeanne McDonald is an author whose work I plan to follow for a long time to come.

I give The Truth in Lies (Book 1 of The Truth in Lies Saga) 4 1/2 stars (of 5 stars possible, a rating only given to my favorite classic novels).


~Cassandra :)


  1. Thank you so much for the sparkling review, hun. It was nice to see that the changes I made mattered. This story holds a dear place in my heart, and I can't wait to share the next installment with you. You're the best.

    1. You are very welcome, m'dear!! :) At least this Master's degree in English isn't going to waste, LOL!! ;)

      ~Cassandra :)


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