Review (ARC): Truth, Lies, and Second Dates

Expected publication: December 15th 2020

Author: MaryJanice Davidson

Overview from Goodreads:

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?

Personal Review

Captain Ava Capp is a domestic airline pilot.  She was snarky and believed in having a guy at every destination for her to spend time with when she was in town. This was her idea of fulfilling her romantic needs. She loves her life with few attachments and having great friends at her side that also happen to be her co-workers. She is a generally well-written character that has imperfections that are explored.  Her humor and sarcasm can be wearing at times though so she was just an okay character to me with her positive points balancing the negative. Although she has flaws that got annoying at times, it’s what made her a more realistic character. (She didn’t have to be likable for her to be relatable.) Her interactions with GB and India show the interesting balance of being co-workers and friends.

When she goes to the wake of her murdered friend, she’s not only forced to feel grief all over again, she is forced to renew her thoughts on who killed her – even though some believe it was suicide. Here she meets our leading male, Medical Examiner (ME), Tom Baker, who has secrets of his own and is also trying to figure out what happened to the friend. Together they form a relationship to try and find answers to a question that has haunted both of them – who is the murderer? This novel is a fresh take on this concept as the murder didn’t just happen in the present; it happened in the past so they must search for clues differently than you would if the murder took place recently.

The writing style of the book was a little difficult to get used to as it feels like every thought the characters could ever have were put on paper which made it seem overwhelming and “ramble-y.” However, you get immersed in the story and you don’t mind it anymore.  There are also a lot of vocabulary “lessons” as there are tons of footnotes in the book to explain different terms. I felt they were very unnecessary as the author could’ve skipped this and just used the more well-known terms and stopped trying to be “fancy” using different industry type terms. Overall, the characters are unique and have some relatable moments. The banter the characters share is witty at times and exhausting at next. I go back and forth sometimes about how compatible I believe the two of them are, but I tend to favor them being good for each other. I absolutely loved the one “twist” with Tom’s character that he reveals to Ava as it’s a new topic that doesn’t get included in many novels.

One thing I could not stand in this novel was the character Hannah as she’s written way too advanced for a 6.5 year old. Although she’s an extremely gifted kid, as a former teacher of gifted students exactly how she was supposed to be, it was very hard to read her as the younger girl she was supposed to be as her mannerisms, vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension was on par with our intelligent main characters. Although some combination of these is possible, it’s very hard to believe that a 6.5 year old and a well-educated late 20s+ year old would be on equal ground. Aside from my one main criticism, the novel is an interesting read of who-done-it while integrating the rom-com aspect of it. Overall, I am glad that I gave this book a chance and I would read more by this author.

This novel is two types of genres in one – a murder mystery and a romantic comedy. The murder mystery side of it is what kept me going as the rom-com side was hit and miss. It’s not as dark as a typical mystery novel, but it still keeps you reading. The rom-com wasn’t bad, but it just needed a little more work to make it a lovable story.  On the mystery side of things, there are clues hidden throughout the novel (whether put there intentionally or not) that you can piece together who the murderer was and why it happened, but it still keeps you guessing as you can doubt your initial thoughts. The clues themselves are extremely subtle and they aren’t used as foreshadowing elements as the book moves around between what the plot is focusing on so it can be a bit confusing as a whole. It had a lot of potential and good elements which is what made it overall a good story.  I would recommend it to others as they might enjoy other aspects that I didn’t and come away even more satisfied than my experience.

**Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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