Wednesday, October 31, 2018

ARC Review: Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Little White Lies
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: Debutantes
Publication: Freeform (November 6, 2018)

Description: "I'm not saying this is Sawyer's fault," the prim and proper one said delicately. "But."

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.

My Thoughts: Eighteen-year-old Sawyer Taft was raised by her mother who had her at seventeen. Her mother, in her telling of the story, was thrown out of her high class home when she came up pregnant in the middle of her debutante season. Her mom is pretty flighty and it has made Sawyer independent, smart, and more than a little cynical.

When Sawyer's grandmother, whom she had never met, comes to Sawyer with an offer to pay for her college education if she'll come live with her and take part in the current debutante season, Sawyer takes the opportunity because she might be able to figure out who her father is. She long ago found a picture hidden by her mother of the Squires from some year with four faces blacked out. She's certain that one of the men is the one who got her mom pregnant and abandoned her. The timing is right because her mom had just taken off with a new boyfriend leaving Sawyer on her own.

Sawyer gets thrown into the debutante season almost immediately as she comes to her grandmother's. Also living with her grandmother is her aunt Olivia, her uncle J. D., her cousin Lily who is also making her debut, and her young cousin John David who happens to be obsessed with zombies.

Also debuting are Lily's best friend Sadie-Grace Waters and frenemy Campbell Ames. Campbell's brother Walker is Lily's ex who seems to have changed greatly since dumping her. Sawyer meets Campbell when she finds out that Lily and Sadie-Grace have kidnapped her and are keeping her in the family's poolhouse. It seems that Campbell is blackmailing Lily.

The story begins with the four girls in formal wear locked up in the local jail under the supervision of a rookie cop who doesn't know why they are there or who they are. Then the story proceeds to unwind in a series of flashbacks of the nine months that Sawyer has been taking part in the debutante season. It combines laugh-out-loud humor, intense emotions, the mystery of Sawyer's parentage, and another mystery regarding a hit-and-run accident.

It was a compelling story filled with fascinating characters. Sawyer is my favorite. I liked her cynical point of view and her innate kindness. She was bright and curious.

Favorite Quote:
The dog stared up at me with what, in the dark, I could only assume was an adoring expression.

"How the hell did you get past the gate?" I asked.

William Faulkner was not forthcoming with answers. Of the 199 breeds eligible to compete in the Westminster Dog Show, there were a handful that I would have classified as capable of both stealth and getting past that gate.

The hundred-plus-pound Bernese mountain dog was not one of them.

As if sensing this this evening was not going my way, William Faulkner attempted to comfort me--and by that, I mean that she bumped my body with hers, nearly sending me sprawling to the ground, and then threw her head back and started barking.

I tried to convince her to stop, but it was like she'd waited her entire life for the chance to perform the lead in a doggy opera.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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