Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-21126-X
Contemporary Romance, 2004
Barbara Freethy’s Golden Lies sounds more interesting than it actually is.
Long-kept secrets of three families and a millennium-old legend clash and collide when Riley McAlister and his grandmother learn that a dragon statue in Grandma’s attic turns out to be a very valuable Zhou dynasty relic. They encounter David Hathaway of the established auctioneer House of Hathaway, and Riley is persuaded by David’s daughter Paige to leave the statue overnight for a proper evaluation and appraisal. David reluctantly agrees. Then oops, the dragon statue disappears. Riley looks for it, Paige decides to help him in order to clear the reputations of her father and the family business, and they fall in love as they look up and down from San Francisco’s Union Square to Chinatown.
This book isn’t a romantic suspense as much as it is a story of three families bound together by secrets, legends, and the stupid things your parents do to affect your lives. There is also a secondary romance here involves between someone Paige doesn’t know exists until she starts looking, so revealing more may be a spoiler. You can read the Publisher’s Weekly review on the Amazon page to get spoiled about this person if you wish.
Ms Freethy manages to create an interesting multi-generational family backstory with apparent effortless ease. But on the other hand, I can’t overlook the fact that much of the story hinges on the Journals and Letters from the Past Revealing Everything plot device. Isn’t there a less obvious and contrived manner to get the story to unfold? Likewise, Riley is a bit of a bore, being a familiar ex-Marine action-man “my momma was bad so all women are crap” commitment-phobe hero. Paige starts out an exasperatingly gullible twit plagued by the usual daddy and self-esteem issues, but she actually develops as a character to the point that by the end of the book, she’s much more interesting as a character than Riley. Because both characters start out as typical central-casting romance characters, their romance takes quite a long time to engage my attention.
Golden Lies doesn’t have too many surprises in store for the reader, only an interesting family soap opera. It’s far from a bad or a dull story, but at the same time, it’s not a book that makes me sit up and pay attention to it either. This one therefore is a perfect example of a decent and adequate story that doesn’t manage to knock me off my feet. It’s okay but it doesn’t have the zing where I am concerned.