Review: Truth, Lies, and Second Dates – MaryJanice Davidson

Review: Truth, Lies, and Second Dates – MaryJanice DavidsonTruth, Lies, and Second Dates
by MaryJanice Davidson
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Genres: Romance
Pages: 320
Source: NetGalley

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne Star

A sweet and sassy contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson!

Captain Ava Capp has been flying from her past for a decade. She’d much rather leave it, and her home state, behind forever. But when she finds herself back in Minnesota, against her better judgment, everything goes sideways in a way she never expected it to.

M.E. Dr. Tom Baker has never forgotten Ava and the cold case she ran away from. When she shows up unexpectedly in town, in spite of himself, sparks fly. Which is terrible because he can’t stop his growing attraction to her. Can these two Type-A’s let their guards down and work together to put Ava’s tragic past behind her for good? And keep their hands off each other at the same time?

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3 stars icon contemporary icon m/f romance icon

Content warnings: View Spoiler »

I’ve enjoyed the author’s paranormal stories before (most recently Bears Behaving Badly) so I thought I’d try out one of her contemporaries. The author specifically states that this book is a mashup of both romance and horror tropes, some subverted and some hilariously not. It’s a bit of weird mix that worked wonderfully for me in some ways and not at all in others.

Captain Ava Capp (yes, Captain Capp) has been avoiding her home state of Minnesota ever since her best friend was brutally murdered. So it’s awfully bad luck that lands her back there on the ten-year anniversary of her death – and that her best friend’s brother is a passenger on the flight. Drug along to the memorial against her better judgement, she suddenly finds herself at the center of the unsolved mystery, and even worse, the killer may be looking to strike again.

Kill everybody who thinks I’m a killer
Prove I’m not a killer

The one thing I have to say for this author’s books – the characters are always, well, characters. They’re generally quirky and funny, and they are extremely fun to hang out with. Ava loves flying, and the book is sprinkled with lots of pilot trivia. Ava’s also obsessed with lists – each of her POV chapters is topped with one of them – and is, like your classic horror movie heroine, mostly unaware of how much danger she’s in until someone else points it out. In this case, it’s Tom, the excruciating literal medical examiner. Up until about halfway through the book, though, Tom believes Ava may be the killer – which is uncomfortable since he’s attracted to her. While there is a romance, it does feel overshadowed by the mystery portion of the book.

“Okay. I still feel like you’re not internalizing this—”
“—so I’m gonna go over it again: you’re about to be the murder victim of a grisly murder because you’ll be murdered.”

As for other cons, the main issue for me is that the author has a distinctive writing style – quirky characters and almost stream-of-consciousness writing – that didn’t work for me with the whole grisly murder storyline. It works well with a frothy paranormal romance but not so much for a book chockfull of horror tropes. There’s also a lot of rep (Tom is demisexual and he and his precocious niece are on the spectrum), and I’m not ownvoices for either. While I liked how accepting Ava was of his neurodiversity, some of the humor around it felt a bit off-putting. For instance, when Tom shares that he often has difficulty with responding appropriately to certain social situations, she jokes about bursting into giggles at her parents’ funeral. Tom’s reassured by this, but to me it felt a bit like Ava didn’t quite understand what Tom was trying to express.

Overall, this was funny and a quick read, but it didn’t really work for me. I think I’ll stick to the author’s paranormal romances from now on.

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