In 1997, I listened to my very first Nora Roberts audiobook and I’ve been a fan of her romantic suspense titles ever since. Later, I gave a few of her trilogies a try, and while I liked them well enough, her stand-alone novels, featuring well-balanced romance and intrigue are far and away my favorites. So, when The Liar, Ms. Roberts’ latest offering, came out, I greedily snapped it up for review.
Shelby Foxworth is a twenty-four-old widow and mother. Her husband died in what appears to have been a tragic boating accident, leaving Shelby in a world filled with debt and deception. Now that he’s dead, she is doing her very best to get out from under the mountain of money she suddenly owes to countless individuals. She also wants to show her three-year-old daughter Callie that a woman doesn’t have to be dependent on a man in order to be successful in life.
Shelby left her family home in a small Tennessee town when she was just nineteen. Since then, she’s been home maybe a handful of times. Richard was very controlling, and refused to let her spend much time with her family. Now though, Shelby knows home is exactly where she needs to be. So, she works hard to sell what belongings she can, puts her huge house on the market, and heads home, taking with her a series of passports, several thousand dollars in cash, and a gun. These are the only clues she has to who her husband really was, for Richard Foxworth never actually existed.
Once back home, Shelby and Callie are enveloped in the loving arms and hearts of Shelby’s large extended family. Slowly, Shelby begins to rediscover herself, pushing aside the emotional and verbal abuse she suffered while married to Richard. So dating is the last thing on Shelby’s mind, even though contractor Griffin Lott embodies everything she could possibly want in a man.
For his part, Griff knows Shelby is the woman for him. He finds her beautiful, smart and feisty. He’s also charmed by Callie, and it’s not in a fake way either. Callie isn’t just a way for Griff to get to Shelby. His liking for the little girl is genuine and refreshing.
Honestly, Griff is one of the very few of Roberts’ heroes that I actually can say I liked. He doesn’t try to control Shelby. He doesn’t use her attraction to him against her. Instead, he’s patient, loving and protective, all qualities I find admirable.
Narrator January LaVoy is a skilled performer who was put to the test by Ms. Roberts’ large cast of characters. I am pleased to let potential listeners know that she passed with flying colors. Her southern accent sounds quite authentic, which is a definite point in her favor, given that many characters spoke with it. But don’t think they all sounded the same. Ms. LaVoy uses a wide variety of tones, pitches, and other vocal tricks to make sure that each character is easily distinguishable from the rest. Both male and female characters are portrayed in a believable manner. Ms. LaVoy’s voice is in the alto range which certainly makes such portrayals easier to pull off.
I love the way Ms. Lavoy brought both Shelby and Griff to life. Shelby is a woman with a lot of baggage she is shedding slowly but surely. Ms. Lavoy allows the listener to see her grow stronger and more self-confident. Griff isn’t terribly complex as heroes go. He’s a hard-working, creative man who wants to do good things for those he loves. Ms. Lavoy allows these characteristics to shine throughout her performance.
I must give her special props for her depiction of three-year-old Callie. Many narrators are called upon to portray children, but few are capable of doing it well. Ms. Lavoy’s depiction made her sound completely adorable, just the way Ms. Roberts intended. I’m not a huge fan of kids, but, by the end of the book, even I was a little bit in love with the little girl.
One character was not portrayed well. Griff’s business partner and friend Matt is a man nearing thirty. For some reason I can’t even begin to understand, Ms. Lavoy makes him sound like an adolescent boy on the verge of puberty. He spoke in a high-pitched, kind of squeaky voice. It just didn’t fit the character the author created. Luckily, Matt is a supporting character without a ton of dialogue.
It’s important for potential listeners to know that The Liar isn’t as suspenseful as some of Ms. Roberts’ other books. Sadly, I had the ending worked out pretty quickly, but I definitely enjoyed watching Shelby and Griff get there. This is a story of family, love and self-discovery, with suspense taking a back seat.
Narration: A- and Book Content: B+ Unabridged. Length 8 hours 42 minutes