Title: The Lie
Author: Stella Gray
Publisher/Year: Stella Gray 2/23/21
Length: 390 Pages
Series: The Charade #1
The world knows Ford Malone as the heir to a real estate fortune.
But to me he’ll always be my best friend.
The guy who saved me from my bullies back in school.
The man I’ve secretly loved for years.
When he needs me to be his plus one at a family event, I agree without hesitation.
Imagine my surprise when he announces our engagement.
As usual, I’ll play along.
Nothing has to change except the way we behave—the way we touch—in public.
But his private touches change everything.
Soon the crush I’ve hidden for so long is threatening to swallow me whole.
If I tell him how I feel, it could ruin our friendship forever.
But if I don’t, the lie will ruin me instead.
I’ve enjoyed every other series of the Zoric family and I think that we all were waiting to see how Emzee’s story would play out. We know her as the youngest – the little sister to Stefan and Luka, and we watched how the elder siblings entered into marriages based on contracts and not on love, only to have them turn into more than they ever could have imagined. Each story being more complicated than the last, but we see now that they are all happy, and expecting children of their own.
So fast forward now to Emzee. She’s always been a bit different than her siblings – really a bit goth, a bit of a loner. She’s marched to her own tune, and now that she’s trying to find her footing in the world that her father left in shambles, she’s managed to build a great charity, grow her friendships with her sister in laws, and try to stand on her own two feet. She’s even managed to keep her best friend from High School in her life – and that friend is Ford Malone. The boy who helped keep the bullies away from her when rumors spread as a teen, and now they have this type of friendship that outlasts relationships and trauma of life.
We find ourselves in an interesting situation, where Emzee is at a family event for Ford, his mother’s birthday party and while she’s maneuvering her way around the event raising money for her charity, she quickly finds herself in the crosshairs when Ford’s mother continues to hound him about getting married to his new ex-Claudia and Ford pulls her into the mix. In the form of his ‘girlfriend’.
Yup – so that’s the path this story takes – watching yet another fake relationship come to the forefront. Ford needs his mom off his case and he knows that Em will do anything for him. She’s never said no, and it’s because she’s had a crush on him from day one and he knows it. Emzee always thought she was good about hiding it but nope!
The journey from there out is one where we watch this lie take all sorts of forms. Ford needs Emzee to do all the girlfriend type things, and she needs to do her best not to lose her heart in the process. It becomes harder and harder when there are so many conflicting moments between them. Ford brings Emzee to all these events to play the dutiful girlfriend and then he muddies the water with moments of romance and sensuality. Emzee thinks that at times there’s more and then he does something or says something to remind her that she’s nothing more than a pawn.
The challenge with a lie is that something will either push the lie into becoming true, or something will happen to make everyone get hurt. We watch how both happen simultaneously. There are moments when we believe that both are leaning to each other – that emotions are becoming real, that connections are real, and then the rug is pulled out from under them when secrets come out. The hiccup in all this is that now the relationship has turned into an engagement, and yet another contract marriage is born – where they are going to stay together for a year in order to get Ford’s family off his back,……but what we have come to realize is that the other shoe is going to drop with even more secrets.
Those secrets being another underlying plot line that is a result of what the Zoric’s father did with the family business. You’ll remember in the previous series, we watched how the family learned that their father was involved in trafficking the models and now that the agency has gone clean, apparently there are people who are not thrilled with the lost revenue. Namely the Russian Mafia. They’re after the family for money and the Zoric’s don’t really have that kind of cash laying around.
When Ford’s family somehow learns about the mafia being after Emzee’s family, a deal is put on the table which turns the entire trajectory of our story on it’s head. All the hope that we had for the future is now dashed, and what that means is that there are too many players involved for any type of positive outcome. Now sadly we have to wait 2 more months for book 2 to come out and we’ve literally been left on a ledge that needs pulling back from and I have to wait it out. So….on that note…i’ll find something else to ease my anxiety for the meantime and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Emzee, her family and for Ford. enjoy!