Book: Half Truths
Author: Claire Contreras
Series: a standalone (so far)
Release date: 21 October 2019
Main characters: Amelia Bastón, Ellis university student desperate to find her way in life outside of her family’s influence; Logan Fitzgerald, star hockey player, and thorn in Amelia’s side from day one.
You’ve heard of these groups – the secretive ones that only the crème de la crème are invited into, the ones outsiders speculate about for centuries – I’m the second in my family invited to attend, but to them, I’m fresh meat. New blood. New money, too.
They think they’ll elbow past me, that I’m here for their amusement, for them to walk all over, they’ll find out soon enough that I’m not.
I may look like one of them, with my designer bags and clothes straight from the Parisian runways, but I’m not. I’m here for answers, to take revenge for blood spilled on their centuries-old Persian rugs.
I transferred here in search for answers about what happened to my older brother, who hightailed out of here, and my friend who seemingly disappeared into thin air. I certainly wasn’t here for the attention of the star hockey player, regardless of how much he willed my eyes his way. I wasn’t here for his scrutiny or his judgement or to read into his mysterious aura. I was here for the society, because only they held the answers I needed. That was, until I found out that in order to get those answers, I needed to go through him. He’s saying if I want in, I have to play by their rules, follow their lead.
It’s a game I’m willing to play.
I may be the second person I know of to be invited into their society, but I’ll be the first to make it out intact.
Why you should read it: Claire Contreras has a wonderful narrative style. Her books have the right blend of angst, sexual chemistry and an intricate side plot running through it. Contreras has embarked on a different subgenre and this book has been billed as romantic suspense – a sub-genre I love when done well.
The book’s setting is intriguing. A college whose students sit in the lap of luxury and where the country’s most powerful offspring belong to secret societies, doing who knows what. All the ingredients for a suspenseful tale are there. There are enigmatic characters who try to befriend Amelia, but their purpose isn’t always clear. Another key ingredient. Then there’s Logan, the love interest. He’s a big man on campus with a bright future in front of him. He seems to delight in antagonising her, but at the same time, can’t seem to leave her alone. The key elements are all there, and there were some truly exciting moments in the book – in particular, towards the end of the book.
What you may not like: I have to be honest, it took me a long while to get into this story. Why? Perhaps because so much of the book was setting the scene, I wanted action quicker than it actually occurred. Then there was Amelia. She’s young – I get that, but a lot of the time she came across as whiny and she really knew how to labour a point. Much of her inner monologue was repetitive and at times, I wanted to shake her. I’m used to punchy dialogue from Contreras’s heroines but Amelia really didn’t have a lot to say for herself that added value or gravitas to a given situation. Her dialogue with Logan was supposed to be flirtatious and at times combative, but again, it just didn’t land for me.
Logan as a character wasn’t entirely convincing either, until the latter portion of the book. So much of the book featured them circling each other, giving very little away, that by the time the exciting ending came, it was over in a few pages. I found this really disappointing as just as we were getting a handle on the characters and how they interacted with each other, it was over.
Rating: 3/5 for a solid and promising effort in a new genre, but some pacing issues hampered the book’s progress for me.