Review: Lie to Me by Tori St. Claire

Friday, July 20

Title: Lie to Me*
Author: Tori St. Claire
Series: Black Opals #2
Genre:  Erotic Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Berkley Heat
Format: Trade paperback & E-book
Date/Year:  July 3, 2012
Reviewed by: DD

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

A man of action…

After helping to break up a Russian human trafficking ring as part of the CIA’s elite Black Opal team, Alexei Nikanova’s newest assignment is to rescue one of the stolen women and return her to her father. When he arrives in Dubai, he discovers his target is Sasha Zablosky—a woman he knows all too well, and who has haunted him ever since their one unforgettable night together. But he finds Sasha reluctant to leave her Sheik, the only true friend she’s ever known. Only Alexei can’t give her a choice.

A woman of deception…

With their yearning roused by intrigue, Alexei and Sasha can no longer resist and spend night after night in forbidden pleasure. Soon Alexei finds himself falling for her even as he battles a shadowy menace to protect her. But Sasha is no innocent. She has a past darker than she could ever admit or that Alexei could ever forgive. And it is about to explode into her life once more. Now, as the lies they tell themselves—and each other—pull them deeper into a perilous desire, what began as simple passion becomes a love certain to destroy them and end the lives of countless innocents.

My Musings:

My initial feeling about this book is that it is sad. Or, the storyline in itself is sad. A Black Opal operative, gains the trust of an already weary person, only to make them trust for the first time and then betray them again “for the greater good.” I’m not so sure that I think there is such thing, but this world isn’t black and white. It’s different shades of a certain "color" but that goes to another book that we will not mention :)


The story starts with Alexei, who is a member of the Black Opals, long ago hardened by his undercover life. He has only fallen in love once. A woman that he had to give up to the sex trade as mandated by his job. No way to contact her. No way to know if she would survive or die a woman that has witnessed unthinkable horrors and scared her so that she will never recover, as he has witnessed with other victims. Little does he know  that he is about to get the shock of his life when he meets her again....

Sasha was once lured by Alexei on an undercover operation. She fell in love. Love and passion do not exist for her after his betrayal, and she feels hollow. She is sold to a Sheikh named Saeed with whom she forms a deep friendship. As proclaimed in the novel, Alexei “ fucked her, drugged her, sold her into slavery and killed her only friend”. However, she still loves him, has never been able to think of anything but his beautiful face since she spent one night with him.  We have to suspend our belief that true love and unbridled passion erase all these deeds. Saeed, the Sheikh, has taken care of her and never made advances toward her until one night. When he must make a choice between his family’s continued safety and success, and hurting the one he has come to love (Sasha), he offers a solution….let Sasha have a night of pleasure. Familiarity swamps her when their guest gets too close and Sasha realizes who he is…and blows his cover wide open. The whole thing goes kaput and Saeed ends up indirectly paying for the love that Sasha and Alexei share, yet deny.

Sasha is a former engineer that deconstructs explosives in order to figure them out. Her father is a horrible (so we are told) Nobel prize winning hero who manipulates her into actions that result in many people being killed. She carries this shame like a heavy blanket. Sasha  is a strong very capable woman. She is stoic and to a certain point just accepts what life has handed her, but she will not be run over, and will no longer be puppeteered by her father. He is not a gentle soul, and cares nothing that she is his child as we are led to believe. He wants to teach her a lesson. She runs away and ends up getting herself sold into slavery whereby she meets Alexei.  She is a kick ass woman, very similar to the Heroine in “Stripped”. She has a couple of TSTL (to stupid to live) moments that I could have done without, but alas there wouldn’t be a story if that wasn’t the case. Heroine's always seem to get themselves in trouble, and you know what they say about good intentions. I wish she would have just expressed more emotion to Alexei. He was cold but he warmed up significantly and his love for her was obvious and consuming.  I felt some depth with Alexei that I didn’t feel with Sasha.

Alexei is initially not that likeable of a character. I began to warm up to him, but he is so centered on his own self loathing that he just can’t bust out of it. Alexei thinks Sasha has been a pampered princess for the last couple of years. He knows nothing of her horrible past and the reasons she is trying to run away. And of course, she won’t confide in him until she is forced. He believes that every word coming from Sasha’s mouth is a lie. Alexei is alternately drawn and sickened by Sasha at times, and his inner conflict with his lust, hate and love became a little tiring.

Alexei redeems himself at the end and I am glad for that, as it rounds out his character. Sasha’s character is a little bleak. I wanted her to have a little more emotion towards Alexei, not just in the bedroom. Without giving anything away, I didn’t understand the storyline with her father so much. The whole thing was confusing to me. However, in these types of suspense novels I often think about them much later, and more pieces fall into place the more I continue to process it. There are a lot of characters with the unusual names (I sometimes a hard time keeping the characters straight) on different sides here, and that is where the mystery sets in.  I have found that is true with a lot of romantic suspense novels though. Not too unusual.  As for other characters, I felt sorry for Saeed and his situation. I REALLY liked Misha, and I am hoping the next book is about him, as I will look forward to it.

The love scenes in Lie to Me are very, very, VERY hot. Graphic but not overkill, although they do last for a good many pages at the beginning of the book and I sometimes felt myself skimming. The hottest parts to me were not when they were “together” but when they had encounters in not so opportune areas, such as the back of a Volkswagen in a car chase. Also Alexei seems to have a “throbbing erection” throughout the entire novel. Now I know every woman wishes that a hot man couldn’t keep hold of his bodily functions, and want hot monkey love 12 times a day, but it’s a little overboard when Alexei can’t keep his balloon from inflating after the 13th time in a 24 hr period.  I had to give a little eye roll. I was having Lora Leigh Deja Vu moments every 50 pages.

All in all I enjoyed Lie To Me. However, I enjoyed “Stripped”, the first book in the  Black Opal series, more than this new one.  This is a bonafide Romantic Suspense, so if you don’t like a story with a lot sex, a lot of bad guys, and intricately woven plots, Lie to Me may not be for you.   I may have mentioned this in my review of “Stripped”, but I can’t help but compare these books to some of Shannon McKenna’s works, and she is one of my favorites.


Overall: 3.5 Stars. (I liked it, But I like Stripped more in comparison. I wanted more from Sasha. The suspense was really good, although a little confusing at times)
Sensuality level: 4.75 Stars. (Very hot love scenes. There is some menage, and the scenes are done very well.)

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