What Lies Between | Charlena Miller
Genre(s): Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Published: February 28, 2015 | Red Bicycle Press
Set in modern-day Scotland and laced with adventure, romance, and hope, What Lies Between reminds us that love and belonging are often discovered in the most unexpected places.
Trust has never come easily to Ellie Jameson. A broken past taught her that self-reliance is the only option—no one sticks around for the long haul. When a fateful letter arrives with news of an unexpected inheritance, she sees a silver lining in the tragedy that seems to follow her. Anxious to leave American city life for the rugged Scottish Highlands, she sets off to claim her fate in a whirlwind of determination. Captivated by the land of stunning lochs, fiery whisky, and a particularly charming Highland local, it seems things may finally be turning around . . .
But nothing could have prepared Ellie for what awaits at the Glenbroch estate, where she soon discovers very little is as it seems. The rugged, romantic Highlands harbor old secrets and vengeful enemies, entangling her in a web of lies and betrayal. As the line between ally and enemy blurs, Ellie is in danger of forfeiting her inheritance—as well as her heart.
I received this ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. This opinion is my own, and will not be affected by this.
Before I begin rambling, I want to take the time to thank Charlena Miller. She approached me with her request at a time where I wasn't accepting copies for review, and her pitch game was so strong, there was noway I could say no. What I liked the most about Charlena, was that she paid attention to my blog. She knew my interests, and had sent the request mainly because they tied in perfectly with her debut novel. This book was nothing like I expected, and even though the story had a few flaws, What Lies Between still proved to be strong contender . . .
I teamed up with my girl Jenniee from Books and Tea to tackle this review in style.
After being a couple of chapters in, what were your first impressions w. this novel?
I was quite impressed to be honest. Diving into the book, I didn't really know exactly what to expect, mainly because the novel itself wasn't a popular title, & I hadn't heard any opinions of it prior to receiving my copy for review. After a few chapters, I was so surprised to discover that What Lies Between wasn't the coming-of-age, self-discovery adult novel I assumed it would be. (In some ways it was) Instead it was a wonderful contemporary, with a ton of mystery/suspense elements blended in. I was definitely not expecting that.
JennieeWhen I began reading this I wasn't too impressed. There was a lot of description and I felt that caused the story line to drag on a lot, plus it was quite slow in general. However the pace did pick up and I began to feel more intrigued about the mystery and I really enjoyed the romance between Ben and Ellie.
Briefly describe the concept/plot and writing. Were they a hit or miss?
Well the story is about an American woman named Ellie, who after her father passes away, finds out that she has inherited an estate in Glenbroch, Scotland. The estate once belonged to her grandparents, and was then passed down to her father to keep the home and land from being sold to outside parties. After finally landing in Scotland, she discovers that her father burrowed loans from different people, mainly from his childhood friend, John MacIver who was already in the process of buying out Ellie, in hopes of having the estate in his possession. But our main character wouldn't go down without a fight right? She busted her ass meeting up with lawyers, and also jump started the renovations to the house with some crew members, with the intentions of saving her family's land from being swept from under her. With some natives against Ellie succeeding, the suspense kicks in as strange things begin to happen around her, and her life is suddenly put into danger.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The writing was definitely a bit up and down for me. It was good, I most certainly can't deny that, but the descriptive text was very hard to get into for half of the book. I think it was more so a dense and heavy read, which caused the story to drag through a couple of chapters, but once you push through that, it begins to lighting up. Either that or you get used to it. I really enjoyed Charlena's ability to allow us readers to feel as if we were in Scotland alongside the characters. From her experience being in the country and her descriptions, you were truly able to see how wonderful the culture is, and how friendly and hardworking the natives seem to be. With the story dragging in some places, but with the writing being so vivid and engrossing, I'd have to say the writing/plot was more so a hit, than a miss.
Besides the large amounts of description, I really liked Charlena's writing style. I was really curious as to what was going to happen once the pace kicked it and the mystery kept me hanging on.
Let's chat about the characters.
I think because Ellie was one of those characters who didn't really let people in, and had a hard time trusting others, it really made you think all of the characters were shady lol. I spent half of the book side-eyeing everyone, because I couldn't tell right away who was being honest & loyal. I did however, have a hunch that Ben MacIver, (the son of the John who is trying to steal the estate from Ellie) was being truthful throughout the entire story. He just had such a genuine air to him, that I would have been blindsided if he turned out to be any different. As weird things started happening to Ellie, such as her being ran off the road by a mysterious driver, I started looking at everyone with close eyes. Sadly not too many of the characters are rememberable, but I will say my favorite was Ben. I loved how he didn't stop proving to Ellie that he didn't have a hand in any of the dirt surrounding the estate, (not literally dirt guys lol) and their romance ended up being one of my favorite aspects of this story. I also enjoyed the friendships Ellie formed with Ben's mother Anna, she was such a sweet woman, and no-nonsense Maggie, who made the perfect friend.
JennieeI thought the characters were really well written. I loved seeing how the characters unfolded and how their true personalities started showing as the novel progressed. I think my favourite character was Ben, he was so charming and romantic and really lovely. He never gave up trying to prove things to Ellie, despite their quarrel early in the beginning. I liked how the characters weren't always what I expected and they were all rather unpredictable.
What were your likes, dislikes?
As I mentioned before, I truly loved how Charlena was able to give us a taste of Scotland in just a few pages. I loved the descriptions of the foothills, even the grass was vividly described. I loved the language, which I attempted to pronounce and failed horribly, and I loved the talk of food! A Scotland holiday causes for a ton of food, whiskey (I never put a little water in my whiskey, might have to try it) and wonderful people. It's definitely a country I would love to visit.
My only dislike to this story would be how it dragged in multiple places. It wasn't anything serious that would cause you to put the book down and DNF it, but you will have to be in the mood for a more heavier storyline if you want to truly enjoy this book.
JennieeI really, really enjoyed the ending! It was so unexpected and I was not ready for what unraveled. The story line was also really intriguing and there were many twists that kept me hooked. The mystery was also created really well because even at the end when the truth was discovered, I still hadn't predicted what was going to happen!
The only thing I didn't like was the structure. The novel took a while to get into the basic plot and there was a section in the middle where I wasn't as intrigued. But then there was a very good twist and things picked up again so it has it's goods and bads!
Overall thoughts and finally your rating
I would recommend What Lies Between to any reader that enjoys a great Adult Contemporary. It consisted of all the elements I enjoy in Adult, rich culture in an amazing setting, a good mystery, and a slow-burn romance, so it's definitely worthy of what I call a pass-along.
Now for my dilemma. This story definitely ended up being a bit difficult to rate. My thoughts are very much still conflicted, mainly because of the dragging -- it took me a week in a half to finish, but I'm leaning towards 3.5 - 4 stars since it still managed to be such a pleasurable read.