‘Scarlet Lies’ is the first instalment in Lani Wendt Young’s new saga that revolves around a Samoan woman trying to find her place in a traditional small island society. The series is categorized as contemporary adult romance and thus not recommended for a younger audience.
Scarlet hasn’t been back home for quite a few years. Now, when her little sister – her successful, beautiful, perfect-in-every-way little sister – is getting married, she is forced to travel to Samoa to be a smiling bridesmaid at the wedding of the year. What is even worse, she’s been given the arduous task of escorting her sister’s special wedding dress – a designer creation worthy of its own seat in business class.
So together with the Dress of Destiny, Scarlet boards the plane desperately trying to subdue her overactive imagination. Anti-anxiety medications and complimentary champagne turn out to be a wonderful remedy for her agonizing fear of flying, as does the tall, dark, and incredibly handsome man sitting next to her. Chugging down one glass of bubbly after another and certain that she will never see the beautiful stranger again, Scarlet spills her guts revealing a little too much about her life. She has no idea that Jackson is heading to Samoa to be the best man at his friend’s wedding.
It’s official – Lani Wendt Young is unable to write a bad or even mediocre book. This lady has a rare gift for delivering wonderful stories that are not only highly enjoyable but also very perceptive, quite thought-provoking, delightfully anchored in Samoan culture, and always fabulously written. I guess I have just summed up ‘Scarlet Lies’.
Anyone familiar with the author’s previous works knows that her novels are characterized by well-developed, multi-layered, extremely believable and authentic characters. This novel is no exception. Scarlet is a true heroine. She is not your typical flawless woman. Wait… Actually she is your typical flawless woman. Just because her body is a little bit curvier doesn’t mean she can’t be considered perfect, does it? So yes, Scarlet is the embodiment of perfection – gorgeous, intelligent, confident, fun-loving young lady who isn’t ashamed to admit that she truly enjoys her life. Scarlet’s charming personality makes you fall in love with her – instantly! Quite honestly, she – not Jackson – is the real hottie in this book. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. In Lani Wendt Young’s world nothing is plain, simple, and usual. Which leads us to the next point: fantastic story.
Although the plot is somewhat predictable, it has quite a few ‘layers’ that keep it interesting. One of them is Scarlet’s love-hate relationship with her family: mother, sisters, aunts, cousins. This underlying theme spices up and drives the narrative, making it very ‘relatable’, especially to female readers. We all have those aunties who can’t stop nagging and telling you how you should do this or shouldn’t do that. And if you are, God forbid, a single woman in your 30s… Oh my! Our heroine encounters the exact same problems. Add to that constant comparisons with the bride-to-be and often rude remarks regarding her voluptuous body and you can imagine what it’s like to be in Scarlet’s shoes.
Another intriguing ‘layer’ is the mystery – yet unsolved – that lingers in the background of the story. This first instalment unravels bits from Scarlet’s past – you learn that she was once sent away in disgrace and is basically the black sheep of the family – however, you have no idea what this dark/shameful/terrible secret of hers might be. The author certainly knows how to build up the suspense. Your anticipation of what’s going to happen next is heightened with every single page. And when you reach the last sentence, you are still left wondering.
I must admit that I enjoyed this book very much. It is an engaging read and yet another proof that you can’t praise Lani Wendt Young enough. She is an extremely talented writer who created a delicious novel – seasoned with irony, wit, humour; flavoured with poetic descriptions; garnished with intense passion; coated in relaxed atmosphere of the Samoan archipelago. Tasty, isn’t it?