Wednesday, November 7, 2018

ARC Review: The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

The Lying Woods
Author: Ashley Elston
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (November 13, 2018)

Description: Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he hardly remembers despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac...and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his past--and write a better future.

My Thoughts: Owen Foster's life makes a U-turn when his mother comes to his elite boarding school and tells him that his father has embezzled from his company, bankrupting it, and leaving his local investors and employees broke too. His father has disappeared leaving Owen and his mother to take the blame and be the target of many of the people in town who lost their livelihoods when Owen's father disappeared.

Owen has to leave his friends behind and go back home for the rest of his senior year. Naturally, he doesn't fit in at his school and is the target of angry kids whose parents are hurting. His only possible friend is Pippa who was the girl next door and his best friend until his father moved them across town to a mansion and sent Owen away to school.

His only refuge is a pecan farm outside of town. The owner offers him an after-school job. The owner also tells him things he didn't know about his mother and her romance with a guy he had hired to work in the orchard.

The story changes viewpoint and flashes back to 1999 when Noah tells about how he wound up in this small town working for Gus and met and fell in love with the girl who would someday be Owen's mother. It also tells about Gus and his love Abby who is dying of cancer when Noah meets her and gets the job.

This was an enjoyable mystery with many twists and turns. I liked Owen who was confused but still determined to protect his mother and find out what happened to his father and his father's company. He feels guilty when he learns that all of his advantages from boarding school to fancy vacations were paid for by money his father stole. He also feels bad that his mother is being harassed and threatened for something she didn't do and that they are being forced to live with his mother's older sister.

I liked the way the story alternated between the present and the past because both stories had interesting characters and romance.

Favorite Quote:
"I don't want to use him like that," I mumble.

"Then you're dumber than I thought. The only way to get ahead in this life is to use everything you can to your advantage."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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