on May 1st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Everyone knew Alicia Harrison’s marriage to Ilya Stern wouldn’t last. They’d grown up on a remote stretch of Quarry Street, where there were two houses, two sets of siblings, and eventually, a tangled mess of betrayal, longing, and loss. Tragedy catapulted Allie and Ilya together, but divorce—even as neighbors—has been relatively uncomplicated.
Then Ilya’s brother, Nikolai, comes home for their grandmother’s last days. He’s the guy who teased and fought with Allie, infuriated her, then fled town without a good-bye. Now Niko makes her feel something else entirely—a rush of connection and pure desire that she’s been trying to quench since one secret kiss years ago. Niko’s not sticking around. She’s not going to leave. And after all that’s happened between their families, this can’t be anything more than brief pleasure and a bad idea.
But the lies we tell ourselves can’t compete with the truths our hearts refuse to let go…
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
I’d read Megan Hart before and loved her work, but I’d forgotten how emotional and realistic her books are. If you’re looking for hearts, flowers, and songbirds, keep looking. But if you want a story that is gritty and compelling, then this first in her Quarry Rd. series will be an exceptional read. All The Lies We Tell is filled with ups and downs and everything in between. Hart’s characters are achingly real with flaws, quirks, brokenness, and strengths just like real people. She tells a riveting story of two families whose lives are altered by tragedy.
Alicia Harrison had grown up in a typical rural town in Pennsylvania. She’d lived in a modest home with her parents and older sister and had spent her days much like any kid. Hanging out with the Stern boys across the street, they’d spent their days getting into the usual childhood mischief. Swimming at the quarry, taunting and playing pranks on each other, gorging on treats in sleeping bags outside or in front of the tv. In her high school years, she’d even kissed Nikolai Stern, a kiss she’d never been able to forget. And thus had begun the teenage dance of secret hand holding and furtive glances. Her sister, Jenny, had had an on again, off again thing with Nik’s older brother, Ilya. But Jenny had moved on to other boys. Alicia and Jenny were 2 years apart in age but universes apart in coolness. Jenny liked to party and hang out with older boys, and had become more secretive. Jenny had become the sort of girl all the guys liked and Alicia was not. And then Jenny died. Her parents, grief stricken, shattered, and so lost in their own sorrow, couldn’t help Alicia deal with the loss. Alicia’s life changed from that moment on, and Jenny’s death would color every decision Alicia made.
Nikolai Stern had grown up in the same neighborhood as Alicia. Right across the street, in fact. But Nik hadn’t been raised by two loving parents. Nik’s father had died in a car accident before Nik was born. His mother had remarried but the marriage had been very brief. Nikolai’s brother was an arrogant teenager with a knack for getting in trouble and a talent for talking his way out of it. Usually with Nik smoothing the way with their mom. Galina, their mother, had done her fair share of 12 step programs, meditation, and mental health facilities. She used crazy as an excuse for bad behavior. Nik never knew what might set her off. She could go from hilarity to fury in the blink of an eye. “Most interactions with his mother felt like he was performing a strange sort of dance while struggling not to break something.” He did enjoy his friendship with Alicia though. Sure she could anger him and push him beyond his temper, but she also made him laugh and feel protective. He’d kissed her one night at a party. He’d laughed it off as a drunken mistake but he couldn’t shake the memory after it happened. He was leaving though, as soon as he graduated. He wanted out of Quarrytown, away from his family. Why get tangled up with someone when it would have to end?
Nik returned home a year later to find that things had changed in his absence. Ilya and Alicia had married. Though no one had been thrilled about their quick Vegas wedding, Nik had been the only one to speak out, accusing Alicia of trying to step into Jenny’s shoes and not being good enough. “He only wants you because you remind him of Jenny and you’ll never take her place.” Now, years later, Alicia and Ilya had divorced. Ilya’s grandmother had passed away, and Nik was back for the funeral. Alicia had never forgotten his words. She’d never forgotten anything about him. Those same feelings from her youth were still there. And apparently they were for Nikolai too. It wasn’t the first time a guy had looked at Alicia like Nik did, but it was the first time a look left her feeling like this. The heat and tension from those looks built and soon, urged by mutual desire, they were in each other’s arms. They tried to stay apart. Nik still had his life in Israel to return to, and they wanted to avoid gossip and family confrontation. But each time they were together was more passionate and consuming. Alicia didn’t want to hear how it was wrong, how they shouldn’t. She just wanted to touch him. Now that Nik had seen Alicia again, tasted her, he couldn’t stop. As intense as it was though, Alicia knew Nik would be leaving again. He’d go, she’d stay. That’s how it worked. Like she didn’t matter at all. She’d been in her sister’s shadow all her life. She couldn’t capture her parents’ attention or Ilya’s. But Nik leaving would be the worst. Would she ever mean something to him?
What an emotional read! A powerful story of overcoming tragedy and finding yourself. Providing backstory can be tricky, but Megan Hart does it beautifully through periodic flashbacks. They gave bits of the family puzzle and really added to the texture of the story. Hart has a real talent for taking the reader deep into the hearts and minds of her characters. Each character had their flaws but they were real and I was quickly pulled into their story. Nik and Alicia had spent most of their lives holding in what they wanted to say. Talking made you vulnerable. They both had to reach the point where they could put aside the blame and guilt and tell each other how they truly felt. I’ll be anxiously awaiting more in this series. I’m hoping to hear more of Nik and Alicia, but also am hoping to see Ilya grow up and move on to find happiness.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.