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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: Deceived by Jess Michaels

Whew, I had fun with this book and all but the one thing that kept popping into my mind was One book closer to Claire’s story! No offense Evan and Josie.

Format: .mobi (Purchased)
Publisher: The Passionate Pen
Release Date: October 13, 2015

Josie Westfall spent a lifetime feeling alone and bullied and an unfortunate incident involving her best friend’s brother, Evan, only made things worse. Still, when she and her mother are invited to the wedding he will be attending, they can’t exactly refuse. She hopes to avoid him, but instead they are thrown together and she is shocked to find that she actually begins to like the man she’s thought of as an enemy for years.

Evan has always felt terrible about what he said to Josie years before, but he’s never quite been able to make it up to her. When he tries, he discovers Josie may have a few secrets and some information about his missing sister. Now he must decide, should he betray her by trading on the unexpected attraction between them and discover what she knows? Or could the possibility of love be worth more than anything else?

A thoughtless comment from a childhood crush changed Josie Westfall’s life forever. Whispers and cruel taunts followed her through to adulthood and Josie’s never forgiven her best friend’s brother. Josie has managed to avoid Evan for years but when she and her mother are invited to a wedding, Josie is forced to spend time with the man she holds responsible for her public torment.

As one of the Woodleys, Evan has never been affected by vicious gossip or public taunts yet he’s always felt terrible about his falling out with Josie. He’s tried to make peace with her in the past but to no avail. Now with Josie attending his youngest sister’s wedding, Evan knows he’ll have another chance to apologize but when he sees her again, not only is he certain she’s hiding information about his missing sister but he’s wildly attracted to her. Evan soon finds himself torn between using their mutual attraction to find out what Josie’s hiding and exploring the possibility that the attraction could lead to more.

Once again I find myself charmed by a member of the Woodley family. When he first appeared in A Marquis for Mary, Evan didn’t really stand out among his siblings. Edward was the oldest, marked by a disastrous first marriage, Gabriel broadcasted his pain and bitterness over the disappearance of his twin sister Claire for everyone to see and Audrey was the only remaining sister in the family. I didn’t get an initial impression of Evan from the few scenes he had in that book or in Audrey’s book Forbidden so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Evan was subtle in his charm, he didn’t flaunt it but he didn’t deny it either. I fell for his charm and his dedication to making amends with Josie. He took responsibility for what he said to her when they were young but he didn’t really grasp the devastating effect it had on her life until much later. When he did it was like his sole focus became to repair the damage he had caused. How could I ignore that? But Evan’s defining trait and ultimate weakness turned out to be his loyalty. For the longest time his loyalty belonged to his family but then Josie comes along, turns him inside out and suddenly his loyalty is divided. Does he do whatever it takes to find out what Josie knows about his sister and betray Josie? Or does he respect Josie’s decision not to tell him about his sister and betray his family? No matter what he did, he felt like he was betraying someone he cared about. That internal conflict is what I love in a character, where they become their own worst enemy and that’s what Evan was. It made him so much more interesting.

Josie kind of broke my heart with how that one comment from Evan when they were children destroyed her fragile confidence. That she remained kind and generous was a wonder because if she had ended up bitter and angry it would have totally been justified. She had more strength in her than she knew and isn’t that always the case with a person who has had their life shaped by gossip and bullying? She didn’t whine or rail about the way her life turned out, she just quietly accepted it and did what she could to make herself happy. It didn’t mean that she wasn’t hurt by it, she was utterly devastated and humiliated but she didn’t allow those experiences to extinguish who she was. It was admirable. Poor girl.

The elephant in the room at social and familial gatherings is still the absence of Claire, the sibling who ran off and married a dangerous man. Her loss is keenly felt by each member of the family and each one of them is dealing with it differently. While Edward, Evan and Audrey seem to be reluctantly moving forward with their lives, Gabriel is digging in his heels and refusing to entertain the notion that Claire will come home when she wants to. He’s blind to everything else, including the feelings of others when it comes to his twin’s disappearance. It will be interesting to see how and if he comes to terms with Claire’s situation in the next book. I kind of feel sorry for his heroine because he seems to be a bigger mess than even Edward was.

Of course, the one book I’m waiting for is the very last one: Claire’s story. Just what is up with her? Why won’t she come home and what the heck is she up to? How will she get away from her dangerous husband and who is her hero???? I’m dying to know the answers to all these questions! Oh the wait is killing me here!

As far as the series goes, Deceived was a good addition. It had that popular-boy-falls-for-unpopular-girl vibe to it that I totally loved but it didn’t have as much angst as the previous book and I think that was what was missing for me. I love a good dose of emotional angst as two characters feel like they’ve messed up their chances to be together. Still though, Evan and Josie were a great couple and I feel like there was a bit more that was revealed about the missing Woodley sibling’s status.

Final Verdict: If this is your first time reading this series, buckle up for a fun time with this loving but damaged family. If you’re already a fan then enjoy this next step towards Claire’s book!

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