Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: A Little Harmless Lie by Melissa Schroeder

Dear Ms. Schroeder,

It's cold and snowy where I live and I was in the mood to read a book set in Hawaii when I found your book A Little Harmless Lie on the Samhain web site. I promptly bought it and learned that it is the fourth book in a series called "Harmless" and that it's the story of bartender Dee Sumner and BDSM club owner Micah Ross.

A Little Harmless Lie: Harmless, Book 4  Melissa Schroeder Dee has a secret. A BIG secret-‘she's the daughter of a mafia guy who murdered someone, and she's been on the run for ten years after someone connected to the FBI's Witness Protection program betrayed her. Which means Dee isn't into relationships or any sort of connection that will tie her down to a place long-term.

Micah's hurdles about dating Dee are twofold: he doesn't date his employees, and she says she's not a sub and he's definitely a Dom who isn't interested in vanilla (Brief digression: Everything I know about BDSM I learned from romance novels). After months and months of watching Dee at work Micah picks up cues that she might be interested in being a sub, and screw the no-employee dating rule-‘he asks her out.

There's so much going on in this story. Is Dee willing to give the BDSM thing a try? Dee has family issues. It turns out Micah has issues with Dee's family. Toss in the FBI, an ex-CIA dude, mobsters, people from a private security firm trying to find Dee, an unexpected trip to Las Vegas and we've got a recipe for mayhem.

A Little Harmless Lie is a fun little story, but it takes some serious suspension of disbelief to enjoy it. (As it happens, I like suspending my disbelief-.) But I have some issues.

Issue 1: The drama that ensues around Dee's past in the last third of the book forces some of the developments in the emotional relationship between Dee and Micah. When this happens in romance novels (and it happens a lot), I get a little irritable. Split-second decisions about love that are made because of flying bullets, hospitals stays, being held at gun-point, and other extreme events are not often emotionally satisfying. Dee and Micah had progressed in their relationship, but they still had trust issues to work through when the bullets started flying and I didn't totally buy into their HEA.

Issue 2: There's a distracting side-story with an ex-FBI agent from Dee's past and whether he is/was in love with her.

Issue 3:   After ten years with no leads-‘despite investigations by the FBI, a former CIA dude, and private investigators-‘someone has an "Aha!" revelation and figures out who within the FBI betrayed Dee and thirty minutes later they end up in a shoot-out with the dirty agent. Cue suspension of disbelief.

For those readers who choose books specifically for the BDSM story-line, I'm not sure this is the best book for you.   I've read BDSM themed stories that are all about the power dynamic between the Dom and the sub. This isn't one of those stories. Who is in control plays a role when Dee and Micah hook-up, and Micah says it's an important part of his life (he does own a business dedicated to the lifestyle), but as I read it, the relationship between Dee and Micah isn't really rooted in domination and submission, it's just a bit of light kink that plays out when they have sex.

Hawaii, which is what drew me to the book in the first place, doesn't have a big role in the story. The descriptions of the ocean and beach were nice, but it didn't satisfy the craving I had for arm-chair traveling to a warmer climate.   This brings up something I often think about: choosing a book for the setting, instead of the story, and whether the setting becomes its own character. In A Little Harmless Lie, Hawaii is just the place where the story occurs-‘it's not particularly integral to the arc of the story. Often when I crave a specific location in a book, I am seeking a story where the setting takes an active role in the progression of the story; I want to imagine myself there.   A Little Harmless Lie didn't offer the immersion in the location that I was seeking.

A Little Harmless Lie earns a C. It's a nice bit of escapism for those readers willing to suspect their disbelief over matters concerning witness protection and the mafia.


p.s. Dear Readers, I'm still in a Hawaii mood and would love book recommendations. Please and thank you!

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook |
| Sony| Samhain |

The first book Jaclyn can recall reading all by herself was Cinderella (a pink Disney edition) and all these years later she remains an avid reader of fairy tales, myths, and historical romances. Jaclyn's TBR also overflows with science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary, thrillers, and mystery. During the workday she can be found navigating the digital transformation at a university press.


  1. Tweets that mention REVIEW: A Little Harmless Lie by Melissa Schroeder | Dear Author --
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 04:39:39

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by said: RT @dearauthor: NewPost: REVIEW: A Little Harmless Lie by Melissa Schroeder […]

  2. Tehani
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 05:47:31

    Laura Kinsale’s book “The Shadow and the Star” jumps immediately to mind as a great Hawaii setting in a great story (I’m a sucker for Kinsale) :)

  3. joanne
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 07:06:33

    I love a good shoot-out and the hell with believability! I’m not that interested in a BDSM storyline so this seems to have just enough to be interesting and will go on my tbb list. Nice review, thank you.

    Oh, and for arm-chair travel reading that will last a century if you read slowly, try Hawaii by James Michener

  4. Mary G
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 07:58:37

    I enjoyed the first two books in this series so I will read the rest.

    Paradise Rules by Beth Kery. First time I read a book where I actually felt like I was at the location, in this case, Hawaii.

  5. Jane
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 07:58:58

    Impulsive by HelenKay Dimon is set in Hawaii as is Paradise Rules by Beth Kery. The setting was good in both.

  6. Kim in Hawaii
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 08:58:39

    Aloha! Thanks for featuring Melissa. She previously lived here on Oahu as a military spouse.

    HelenKay Dimon also has military family connections here on Oahu. She has written several books set in Hawaii – I’ve had interesting discussions with her about how publishers react to nontraditional locations and non Caucasian heroes. Like IMPULSIVE, YOUR MOUTH DRIVES ME CRAZY is set on Kauai with an Asian hero.

    Jill Marie Landis is a long time Kauai resident, Golden Heart winner, and RITA winner of historical Romance. GLASS BEACH offers a “forbidden” romance between a white widowed ranch owner and a native cowboy on Kauai in the late 19th century.

    And perhaps the most “famous” book set in Hawaii is Jane Porter’s FLIRTING WITH FORTY. It became a Lifetime Movie with Heather Lockear. Like her title character, Jane commutes between Seattle and Honolulu for the sun, surf, and sand.

    All of the above have been guests and/or members of RWA’s Aloha Chapter.

  7. FiaQ
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 09:18:02

    Laura Kinsale’s historical romance The Shadow and The Star is partly set in Hawaii.

    Some historical and contemporary romances by Penelope Neri (a Brit who moved to Hawaii decades ago) set in Hawaii, but I can’t remember whether those were any good. When I think Hawaii, I think of Neri. Not sure if that’s a good thing, though.

  8. Avid Reader
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 10:25:58

    Try Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn (also from Samhain)for another good one with a Hawaiian setting.

  9. Jaclyn
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 10:40:08

    Thanks for the Hawaii book recommendations, everyone! I feel a reading project (Hawaii, beaches, and island life) coming on . . .

  10. Mel
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 13:21:41

    Thank you so much for featuring my book. I write a lot of my Hawaiian books from more of a local standpoint, esp since these two people have been in Hawaii for a long time. That being said, the upcoming book, A Little Harmless Addiction, will feature more of it because Hawaii actually plays a part in the heroine’s (Jocelyn) recovery. Since she is brand new to the island, seeing it through her eyes is a lot different than someone who has been there for a few years.
    Thanks again for featuring my book.

  11. Kim in Hawaii
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 15:30:10

    @Jaclyn: If you are interested in reading more about Hawaii, check out these blogsites:

    – Haole Girl in Hawaii. I discovered this website this morning

    – Hawaii Readers, Books for and About Hawaii; frequent contributor is Michael Little, Vice President of RWA’s Aloha Chapter

    – Hawaii Book Blog, which Michael recommends in his blog

    – SOS Aloha, my blog which features romance reading, military issues, and Hawaiian culture

    And one more book recommendation:
    – Chip Hughes, author of the Surfing Detective series. Chip is a UH professor turned mystery writer.

    Mele Kalikimaka!

  12. shelleyannsmith
    Dec 24, 2010 @ 09:12:01

    First – I LIVE for suspended disbelief!

    Second – “Shadow and the Star” is a fantastic book with great descriptions of Hawaii (I am assuming here as I haven’t been to Hawaii).

    Lastly – It’s so weird you learned everything you know about BDSM in books. So did I!! LOL!!!

    Great review and will probably read it as I have liked Melissa’s books.

%d bloggers like this: