Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering (2021) Review

Life just happens

Why I picked up the book:

Skye has had everything in her life, money, beauty, brains, friends, but her OCD and past traumas have kept her from finding what she longs, someone to share her life with. When she meets Burke, it feels like her stars have aligned, and their whirlwind romance leads to a fast wedding. But when you know, you know. Right?

Except Burke is hiding something – he is already married. And his intentions aren’t that good. At least not according to his journal entries.

From 30 years in the past, we get the perspective of a teenaged Heather, a girl whose big dreams start when she breaks out with bad boy Burke. Are they the same man? How does Heather connect to the present?

The book’s tagline says it all: ONE LOVE STORY. TWO MARRIAGES. THREE VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH.

The book through my criteria lens:

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I went in expecting a solid thriller and found a compelling page-turner with gray, nuanced characters. Every single character, except for one, had both redeeming qualities and significant flaws. They were multidimensionally human.

I particularly enjoyed getting to know Skye, one of our narrators. She is a 30-year-old woman who has suffered from OCD since she was 12. Her symptoms started when her mother passed away. Her OCD has been detrimental to her happiness, and she had given up on love when she met Burke.

Burke and Heather are our other two narrators. We get Burke’s POV through journal entries, and Heather’s POV is set many years earlier when she was a teen herself. Lovering’s narrative was absolutely gripping and careful; you can tell she took the time developing the characters, and the mystery is more psychological than anything. As you flip through the pages, you wonder who you can trust and how the three people’s POV will converge.

I really liked how the author wove the three PoVs. We get glimpses into each character’s intentions and thoughts through their own narrative. Then, their actions, narrated by others, make you wonder which version is the truth. I caught myself questioning everything I was reading and constantly changing how I felt about each main character. I liked and disliked each at different points. But I always understood them. These are three people who were dealt an unfortunate hand in life and are just doing what they can to survive, protect and provide.

I really enjoyed the past narrative. As you get flashbacks, you can see the amount of research Lovering put into it. It felt that each period was accurately represented, and the characters acted as authentic products of their time and circumstances. The suspense building was also masterfully done.

I loved the plot idea, and I feel that the first half was really strong. The second half was equally good, but just a tad too long. It was not that it mattered much because I was invested in all the characters’ lives, especially Skye. I was cheering for her and wanted her to find her inner power, confidence, and happiness.

My personal feelings:

This was a beautiful self-love story—also a great character study in how tragedy can affect and shape people differently. Once faced with life tribulations, one can either develop into a stronger, better person or someone with little regard for others.

I also really liked how all three characters went through a journey and had a redemption arc. Even the most unreliable of them did what they did for the love they felt for others. Love, in this book, was beautifully explored in its many different forms: Eros, Philia, Storge, Agape, Ludus, Philautia, and arguably Pragma. The underlying theme that love isn’t always enough was subtly approached. It wasn’t overtly said but represented through two good people who were toxic to each other. We also explored the flip side with two broken people who made the other a better person. It isn’t right or wrong in love, just the choices we make. You can love someone but not be the best for them or find happiness with them.

It’s rare, reading a book to understand when someone does horrible things and even pity them. Lovering made me know all her characters and be invested in their betterment. All except the one terrible, atrocious character who also happens to be a rapist. One scene was just so gut-wrenching that I had to put the book down and cry. I felt the triggering topic was used within the context of the book and essential for the psychological development of a character. It was handled well, in my opinion, but if rape and sexual assault trigger you, be warned. (there is a warning leading to the passage in the text, and you can skip ahead to the following chapter without losing much of the plot).

I definitely recommend Too Good to Be True, and I will be checking the audiobook next time I am in a slump. It was produced by Macmillan Audio, so I am pretty sure it will be fantastic!

Until the next book, be the hummingbird!

Enjoyability     8

Characters       10

Ambience        9

Fairness          8

Plot               10

Execution       8

My total rating: 4.42

BOOK SNAPSHOT:

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