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REVIEW: One Tiny Lie by K. A. Tucker

Dear Ms. Tucker:

What happened? I confess that while I was reading this book I was convinced it wasn’t written by the same author who wrote Ten Tiny Breaths and had I not read TTB, I don’t know that I would have finished this one. I will say (and this is the reason for the C- grade) that despite all the problems I had with this story, I was compelled to find out what happened, how it was resolved, what were everyone’s excuses/reasons/justifications. I wasn’t satisfied with what I read in the end, but at least it kept my attention.

One Tiny Lie (Ten Tiny Breaths #2) by K.A. Tucker
Livie is entering her first year at Princeton and she’s being challenged by her sister’s psychotherapist, Dr. Stayner, to do things out of the ordinary. Ever since her parents’ deaths, Livie has been living the life that she believed that her parents wanted her to live. As the blurb says, “‘Make me proud,’ he had said. She promised she would…and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

No one with a degree in psychology should read this book because Stayner’s actions are not just unconventional but would likely lead to a lot of malpractice suits and probably license suspension.

“Make sure to have a shot of tequila. Break dance. Whatever it is you youngsters do nowadays during frosh week. It’ll be good for you.”

“I suggested tequila, Livie. Not crystal meth . . . And no, I’m not recommending tequila because you are only eighteen and I am a doctor. That would be highly unprofessional. I’m recommending that you go and have fun!”

I had a problem with Livie being characterized as somehow *off* because she was shy, didn’t have a boyfriend, and was focused on getting a degree and going to study medicine after. Somehow boys, parties, and acting crazy were Dr. Stayner’s prescriptions for creating a healthy life for Livie.  And how Dr. Stayner describes Livie isn’t how she appears in the book.  Stayner says that she’s super sensitive “You are one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met, Livie. You respond to human heartache so acutely. It’s like you absorb others’ pain.”

Yet, Livie’s actions are of the most selfish and unkind that you’ll read. Livie has a drunken night she can’t remember which results in waking up with a naked man in her roommate’s bed, a tattoo, and a host of interactions she’ll be reminded of later. This one drunken night (which we only see parts of ) results in the manwhore Ashton falling for her. We don’t know why he falls for her, only that after this one event she becomes his “forever” girl and he reminds her of this through cryptic notes and even more confusing actions such as sleeping with other women.

Because Ashton tells Livie that he a) has a serious girlfriend and b) that he’s a manwhore, Livie starts dating Ashton’s sweet and sexy roommate, Connor. Every time they are out together, however, Livie is eating Ashton up with her eyes, having intimate encounters with him, and basically wanting Ashton more than she’s ever wanted Connor. Part of Livie’s therapy, apparently, is to act like an utter asshole because she continues to date Connor even though she has only tepid feelings toward him.

The story is told only from Livie’s point of view, but we eventually learn why Ashton cheats on his perfectly nice girlfriend and how Dr. Stayner steps in to solve everything.  I struggled to be sympathetic with Livie.  It’s not that I wanted or needed Livie to be perfect but I would have liked a) a believable romance and b) some acknowledgment of how awful her actions were.  C-

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

18 Comments

  1. KT Grant
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 08:15:10

    So it’s obvious the author didn’t do any research or talk to any psychologists? Also when a hero or heroine cheats (on their significant other or are in an monogamous) with one another, I can’t believe the HEA. I still like the fantasy aspect in my romances and want to believe the true love is forever and ever with the H/H and they won’t be tempted by others.

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  2. C
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 16:55:08

    “I had a problem with Livie being characterized as somehow *off* because she was shy, didn’t have a boyfriend, and was focused on getting a degree and going to study medicine after. ”

    Well to be fair that happens in real life… Though its strange and unbelievable that her doctor would be the one to be doing so.

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  3. Shelley
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 18:12:18

    @KT Grant:

    This is exactly why I gave up on YA/NA after only a very few. Really, how hard can it be to just freakin’ google cognitive therapy? And these never ending HEA’s after an entire book of the H’s cheating? I’m over it.

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  4. Rosario
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 06:41:34

    @Shelley: Why do you assume “after only a very few” YA/NA that inadequate research is more common in these books? I’ve read plenty of ‘grown-up’ books with really, really crap research…

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  5. Shelley
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 19:42:48

    @Rosario:

    “@Shelley: Why do you assume “after only a very few” YA/NA that inadequate research is more common in these books? I’ve read plenty of ‘grown-up’ books with really, really crap research… “

    I understand that you think I’m being judgmental based on only a few books out of a gazillion (sheesh, can anyone say overkill?) but in regard to contemporary settings of YA/NA the research I’ve seen seems to be gleaned exclusively from inside the pages of “Seventeen”, “Marie Claire”, or “Teen Vogue”. The extensive descriptions of clothes, makeup, cute boys, clueless parents, mean teachers/professors, etc. induce major hair pulling and teeth grinding as I read and as I’m one of those people who must (almost always) finish a book no matter how crappy it is it can be pretty excruciating on my part.

    Even though I have not read many I do keep looking and follow up frequently on recommendations made by friends, book buddies, and from sites like this one. In fact, I was pretty excited about one reviewed and recommended here, written by Erin McCarthy. I figured she couldn’t go wrong. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was pretty much the same vapid, emotionless, and boring prose and plot as the others. Bummer.

    I’ll keep looking because I know there are some talented authors out there. Until then, I’ll pull The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill a Mockingbird from my keeper shelf along with Hunger Games and reread those until then.

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  6. Maili
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 19:57:57

    Excuse my ignorance, but is it legal for tattooists in the U.S. to allow drunk people to have tattoos? Or does it depend on each state? Thanks. (FWIW, it’s illegal in Britain.)

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  7. AnimeJune
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 08:06:47

    This is pretty much why I’ve been avoiding NA. While I’m sure there are good titles out there, the ones that keep popping up for review in my blogger feed are all about heroines acting like selfish morons and cheating on their boyfriends for the crime of being Boring.

    I mean, I know the college years are a time for taking risks and making mistakes (it *was* my buzzcut save-money-on-haircuts phase) but does it have to be the same mistakes every time?

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  8. Jane
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 09:58:41

    @AnimeJune: I think this is a thoughtful piece on the tropes that seem common in YA and NA. http://www.stackedbooks.org/2013/06/when-we-talk-about-girl-problems.html

    And, no, I don’t think all heroines are selfish morons cheating on their boyfriends. For instance, the very first book by Tucker didn’t have any of those tropes nor are those tropes present in say ColleenHoover, Jessica Sorenson, JA Rederminski, Tammara Webber, Katja Millay and many many many others.

    But hey, if you want to generalize a genre you aren’t reading, feel free. it’s not like we take umbrage to non romance readers doing that to the rom genre or anything, amirite?

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  9. Shelley
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 19:50:37

    @Jane:

    “But hey, if you want to generalize a genre you aren’t reading, feel free. it’s not like we take umbrage to non romance readers doing that to the rom genre or anything, amirite?”

    Except I don’t give a damn what non-readers of rom think or say about my preferred genre.

    Traveling back to my teen and/or early 20′s is so not what I want to do when I read a book. It was not fun and I was way too intense and deep (aka hormonal and grumpy). I liked the blog you referenced and loved the video by “Those Pesky Dames”. So apparently I’m overlooking NA books with girls that smart, I guess. :O) Maybe I’ll check out some of the other authors you listed but if I catch one whiff of self-pity because the heroine can’t make up her mind on which boy to let get to third base, I’ll probably just give up.

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  10. Kaetrin
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 20:09:51

    I don’t like love triangles. But they aren’t exclusive to NA. If you (generic you) don’t feel inclined to read a particular genre because Reasons, that’s fine. (I don’t really read YA because I mostly feel I can’t relate, for example and, I don’t read much outside romance because I’m all about the HEA). It’s the idea that there’s something wrong with A WHOLE GENRE based on only a few examples, which can be problematic. There are examples of “bad”, whatever you (again, generic you) define that to be, in EVERY genre.

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  11. Shelley
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 21:46:42

    @Kaetrin:

    “It’s the idea that there’s something wrong with A WHOLE GENRE based on only a few examples, which can be problematic. There are examples of “bad”, whatever you (again, generic you) define that to be, in EVERY genre.”

    I don’t really get the term, “generic you” or if this is necessarily meant for me. I don’t feel generic. I feel like I am pretty wide read and I’ve enjoyed many different kinds of books over the years and am always looking for new and fresh fiction even when it’s out of my usual sphere of preferred genres. I am sorry if I’m generalizing. I really don’t mean to.

    You’re right, there are examples of “bad” writing across all genres and I’ve gotten hold of more than my share in my life. It is also true I have read very few NA/YA books compared to others but I’ve read samples/excerpts/chapters from many, many more and I still don’t like what I find. Yes, romance has its usual tropes. I have my favorite “go to” tropes myself. Maybe the problem is that some NA/YA authors try to shove every trope and plot device known to man into one book at one time. A good example is “True Love Story” by Willow Aster, which was highly recommended and was my first foray into NA and almost my last. I hated it and wrote a pretty scathing review. This book really stayed with me for several days afterward and not in a good way. And this was the problem – the author dumped so many sub-plots and tropes into this book, it was literally headache inducing.

    I have very little doubt that the main reason I don’t care for this genre is because I do not relate to these people, but it’s not the age of the characters that I don’t relate to, it’s the manner in which they confront and solve problems and issues, of which there are many, throughout the story.

    I know my opinion is not the popular one. Readers are eating this stuff up. Blogs galore are dedicated only to this genre as well as reader forums all over the internet. Many grown women want these “heroes” as their book boyfriends and that’s ok I guess. I just don’t understand why.

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  12. Jane
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 21:57:15

    @Shelley: The Willow Aster book is the one with the hero who cheats the entire story right? That was terrrrible. Agreed.

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  13. Shelley
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 21:59:14

    @Jane:

    ***Spoiler***

    Didn’t just cheat but cheated with his cousin’s wife. Sheesh.

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  14. Jane
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 22:01:37

    @Shelley: Yes, terrible. LOL. There are a lot in the genre that I don’t get. Did you read Easy or Good for You by Tammara Webber or Katja Millay’s Sea of Tranquility. None of those are really about “getting a guy” story.

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  15. Shelley
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 22:24:03

    @Jane:

    I have read an extensive sample of “Easy” and actually have it on my WL and I did just put “Sea of Tranquility” on my WL also. It sounds intriguing. I guess it’s hard to find NA/YA in which the girl’s not trying to get the guy or where there isn’t some big tragic event that drives everything. It’s not that I mind a tragic event being the main plot device but sometimes I like to read mainly character driven stories. Of course, it seems that many adult fiction authors are turning to this (major/tragic event) more and more lately too.

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  16. Jane
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 22:27:46

    @Shelley – I’m not going to lie. Sea of Tranquility revolves around a fairly tragic event. Easy deals with sexual assault at college.

    You might want to try Cora Carmack’s Faking It. Non tragic and more light hearted. Kind of straight forward romance?

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  17. Kaetrin
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 23:47:25

    @Shelley: “generic you” means that it wasn’t directed at any one person.

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  18. Shelley
    Jun 22, 2013 @ 00:09:54

    @Kaetrin: I see. Thanks.

    @Jane: Ah, now lighthearted would be good! Or I could do funny! That might be even more up my alley. ;0). I do thank you for the recs and will definitely check them out. I don’t have a problem with tragedy per se just not THE tragedy and then about a million other crappy things thrown in for good measure, you know what I mean?

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