Barbara Freethy’s Golden Lies is an enjoyable mixture of romance and family saga. The story is enjoyable and the characters are likable; my only quibble was an over-reliance on coincidence.
When Riley McAllister’s grandmother finds out that an Antiques Roadshow type television show is filming near her, she and Riley take some of her stuff there. Riley thinks it’s junk, but to his surprise, a statue of a dragon turns out to be a very valuable item. David Hathaway, the buyer from the prestigious House of Hathaway, asks them to leave it with him overnight, so he can have it appraised. Riley doesn’t want to – as a security expert he is not by nature a trusting man – but when Paige Hathaway assures him the statue will be safe, he grudgingly agrees.
But David takes the dragon statue out of the store to Chinatown. He is attacked and injured, and the dragon statue is stolen. Riley and Paige begin to work together to find out who did this and why. As they search, they find themselves in very deep water. The dragon links Riley’s family, Paige’s family, and others in a generations-long tale of secrecy and treachery.
Both Riley and Paige are enormously likable characters. Ever since he was abandoned by his flighty, drug-addicted mother, Riley has not been the most trusting of men, but rather than the woman-hating jerk we might expect him to be, he’s quite realistic. Readers can understand his issues with trust, and he is not at all hateful. Reilly is attracted to Paige and does his best to keep at arm’s length, but fails. There is some wonderful and very realistic sexual tension between them and it is conveyed with not one letter of purple prose. No heaving bosoms, no throbbing nether parts, no flairing nostrils: instead, there’s a constant state of awareness between them, which makes the love scenes emotionally vivid.
Paige Hathaway is lost in her family. She is not silly or spoiled, but she is a bit of a Poor Rich Girl who doesn’t know what to do in the family company. Her grandfather is a martinet, her mother an ambitious climber, and her father emotionally distant. Paige has settled into the role of event planner although she wants to do more. She’s simply too timid to assert herself. Eventually, some of Riley’s brashness rubs off on her and she becomes more confident. This change in Paige’s character develops quite naturally, and we never get the impression that the author is forcing it on her.
There are a lot of secondary characters and each play integral parts in the book, and I’ll let you all discover them for yourself since to describe them further would spoil the story. The only problem I had with the book is that the clues were all lying around in plain sight. Riley’s grandmother conveniently has a lot of pictures and diaries, and Riley and Paige use them to solve the mystery in a snap. But this happens pretty late in the book and until then, there is plenty of suspense to keep a reader happily engrossed.
If you like romance, and if you like suspense but are not too fond of some of the ultra-violence that figures in some of today’s books, I think you’ll love Golden Lies. It features suspense, likable characters, wonderful sexual tension, and a fast, engaging story with no sadism or twisted characters to spoil it for people with a low threshold for violence.