Friday, August 19, 2011

The Lies That Bind by Susan X. Meagher

Publisher:              Brisk Press

Erin Delancy thinks she has the life she wants. She has returned to her hometown to be the town doctor as part of a contract she made with the people for paying to put her through medical school. She knows every person, every street and every situation. Though her social life as a lesbian is stunted, the fact that she can live with her mother in the home Erin grew up in means that she's seldom lonely and always has someone to do things with. 

Erin's life seems just fine until two things happen. Erin meets Katie Quinn and Erin's mother meets Katie's father. These two incidents, which are totally unrelated, change everything about Erin's settled life. Katie is a bright, aggressive lawyer from Boston who is immediately attracted to Erin and she becomes convinced early on that small town life isn't all that Erin has portrayed it to be. She lives a busy life as a lesbian and has numerous friends who support and encourage her. 

Katie believes that Erin could be the perfect partner, but not if she is going to deny how she really feels about her situation and what she wants in her life. As their relationship develops, Erin begins to remember that she had dreams she sacrificed for what she believed was her duty and she realizes that Katie will never be happy living in tiny Essex instead of Boston, but she is bound to the position for ten years. 

As Erin and Katie try to figure out how to deal with their situation, they also have to adjust to the fact that their parents have fallen in love and are planning on marrying. While Erin wants her mother to be happy, she resents the changes that are being caused in her own life and their relationship without being able to do anything about them. 

Katie doesn't mind Erin's mother. It's her father she can't tolerate being around. Having to interact with him when she visits Erin brings up sour memories from when he left her family. Neither one of them has spent any time really trying to understand the other, so their perceptions of who the other is often lead to arguments; however, with her father married to Erin's mother, Katie isn't going to be able to ignore him as she has done in the past. Either Erin or Katie is going to have to make some tremendous changes in her life to accommodate everything that is happening. The question is who, or if, one of them is going to be willing to do that. 

Brisk Press basically publishes one author – SX Meagher. The advantage to that is that an author can have her book published exactly as she wrote it. The disadvantage to that is that an author can have her book published EXACTLY as she wrote it. No one will ever accuse Meagher of not thoroughly developing her stories or characters because all of her books are big in size. Meagher knows how to write scenes, develop dialog and create character traits and she tells a good story. The reader has a real chance to "get into" her stories. The drawback to this is that there are many extraneous scenes that repeat the message that she is trying to send to the reader. The reader is liable to reach a point where she wants to say, "OK, I get it. Now how does this thing end?" The book doesn’t need scene after scene of one character having a confrontation with her parent for it to be very clear that they don't get along. Katie and her father definitely have problems. 

On the other hand, the length of Meagher's books does allow her to develop nuances of a story so that they creep up on you and you feel you have a revelation in your own thinking instead of having every issue spelled out for you. By the end of The Lies That Bind the reader realizes that Erin's relationship with her mother has never been what Erin has believed it was and that knowledge forces the reader to go back and reevaluate portions of the story and the emotions they evoked. Authors who write to meet the normal length of these genre books aren't able to perform this little bit of magic. Meagher needs to work on keeping that ability while accepting that not every scene is important to its development.

The Lies That Bind is about change. Change in relationships; change in perceptions; change in goals. It's also about how difficult change can be and sometimes how necessary it is. Meagher knows how to tell a good story, one that seems superficially to be another romance, but this one will cause the reader to think also. Don't let the length fool you. The reading passes quickly and it's worth it.

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