Tell Me Lies
Check out this cover. The man with the pirate bandana on his head looks exactly like David Duchovny. He is staring up at the breasts of a woman who is bound to the mast of a ship with her arms stretched up over her head. She has a very smug look on her face. This may not be a very good cover, but it is certainly an eye-catching one. Speaking as a bookseller, I have seen customers stop browsing and pick this one up immediately.
Tell Me Lies begins when the ship Lydia McIntyre is on is captured by pirates. They kill all the passengers except Lydia and take her hostage. The pirates expect that Lydia will be shared among them, but Dan, the captain takes Lydia as his sole portion of the ship’s booty.
The virginal Lydia realizes that Dan is her only hope. If she can make him desire her, she would have only Dan to contend with and not become the sexual toy of the entire crew. So she sets out to seduce Dan. Lydia’s plan succeeds, she and Dan share a passionate and obsessive relationship – one that is looked upon by the rest of the crew with growing anger.
The first part of the book, the part that describes the relationship between Lydia and Dan should have been printed on asbestos paper. While there are descriptions of lovemaking, they are not overly detailed. The heat comes from the emotional intensity of the relationship between Dan and Lydia. This need for each other comes out of nowhere and surprises them both with its power. They want each other, they desire each other, they are consumed with each other. It’s a powerful section of the book that makes mere descriptions of sex acts a la Bertrice Small seem trifling.
The other members of the pirate crew, led by their ringleader Pierre, are not happy with their captain’s exclusive relationship with Lydia. Matters come to a head when Pierre challenges Dan and they fight. When Lydia sees Dan, her passionate lover, fighting to win with no quarter given, and sees him kill Pierre and exult in it, she is shocked. At the time of the fight, the ship is very close to shore, and in the aftermath of the fight Lydia slips overboard and makes her way to the shore and safety.
Once Lydia reaches land, Tell Me Lies slows down and the intensity disappears. That’s probably a good thing, because if it had continued, the book would have ignited. Dan turns out to be Danforth Prentiss of an old and well-known Williamsburgh family and Lydia is the daughter of Robert McIntyre the town apothecary. It is not too long before they encounter each other, and the want, the need, and the desire have not left either one of them.
The second part of Tell Me Lies is as meandering as the first part was mesmerizing. As I was reading the first part of the book, I did not want to put it down. When I came to the second part, I did not have any great urge to pick it up. Had this book been written as a novella, it would have succeeded, but as a full-length book, it fizzled.
Claudia Dain debuts with this novel and she shows much promise. Despite my reservations, I will be sure to read her next book. I liked the Williamsburg setting of this one, Dan and Lydia were compelling characters and, as I said, the love scenes were extraordinary. If only this one had been better structured, I know I would have enjoyed it much, much more.