What I liked: Grace felt anxious as she walked along the bustling High Street toward the solicitor’s office. She hated dealing with people in authority: Daniel had insisted on handling everything himself.
Grade opened the passport as the photograph on the back page. Daniel’s face stared up at her. Only the name in the passport wasn’t his, but that of Lionel Lattide.
Grace Elliott has enough to deal with at the moment; a deceased husband, an absent and uncaring sister, and a pleasant memory that won’t disappear. Now Grace learns of the double life her husband Daniel led all these years. Only now Grace is unsure if anything about Daniel, even his name, was ever real. What kind of sham marriage has she lived with all these years?
Daniel has been laid to rest but this brings no peace for Grace. Turmoil ensues as mysterious men threaten Grace’s life. Furthermore, Grace learns of her husband’s secret life half a world away. Timid and meek Grace must face her deepest fears and leave the comforts of England to travel to Miami. But Grace is not alone; she turns to the one man she hopes will help her in her quest to seek the truth. Things heat up in Miami in more ways than one, and Grace will need all the help she can get if she hopes to get out of this alive. But will her almost hero, Jack, be up to the challenge? And why has her sister disappeared when she is most needed?
Victoria Howard’s Ring of Lies brings together romantic and criminal genre elements. Howard presents a fairly standard story of the mild mannered housewife who breaks out of her shell after learning of her late husband’s shady double-life. The narrative takes on slight tones of a travelogue from time to time and there are snippets of Hispanic cultural references that threaten to pull the reader out of the story. Not the use of references themselves, but the fact that they are presented but not explained until a few paragraphs later. But stick with this book. Howard uses clever sub-plotting techniques to tie up the ends with some interesting twists. Fans of criminal/romance reads will enjoy deducing the clues Howard presents that make you feel as though you have the story figured out – that is until you read further!
Book blurb: When accountant Daniel Elliott dies in a car accident, his widow, Grace, is overcome with grief…and panic. Daniel was controlling and their marriage loveless, but he always took care of her.
Or so she thought.
Grace soon discovers Daniel kept secrets: an alias, mob ties, a list of numbers, a mysterious beach house in Florida….and a girlfriend who looks like Grace. Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami to claim the house Daniel left her. But the price of her curiosity is peril. Underworld figures stalk her. And handsome, troubled FBI agent Jack West has crossed precarious paths with Grace before. With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.
Book excerpt: She remained at the graveside, ignoring the rain as it dripped from the brim of her hat onto the back of her neck, her eyes fixed on the rain-speckled brass plate on the coffin.
Daniel Elliott. 1971-2009
Tears blinded her eyes. Daniel was too young to die. At thirty-eight, he’d been the youngest partner in a firm of international accountants. And he’d been her rock—her one constant in ten brief years. How would she cope without him?
With her emotions barely under control, she made her way over the slippery cobblestones towards the car park. A man stepped out from beneath the moss-covered lych-gate and made her jump. She recognized him as the smartly dressed stranger from the graveside.
He doffed his hat. “Mrs. Elliott?”
“My condolences on the loss of your husband.”
“Thank you. I appreciate you coming today. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to be on my own.” Grace turned, but he grabbed her arm with the strength of a boxer. She winced. He relaxed his grasp slightly, but held her fast.
“What I have to say won’t take a moment.”
Grace felt her temper rise. “I don’t even know you. I’ve just buried my husband. Have a heart!”
He grinned. “A heart? An interesting choice of words. Hearts aren’t standard issue in my business, Mrs. Elliott. Information is.”
Her head snapped up. “Information? What sort of information?”
“The kind you are about to provide.”
Grace gave an involuntary shudder. The impenetrable blackness of his eyes and the way his tongue darted at the end of his sentences made her think of snakes. She glanced over her shoulder. Olivia beckoned from the car, no doubt anxious to get back to help her husband Tom, the local vet, with afternoon surgery.
“I have to go now. My friend is waiting.”
“I realize that this is not the most suitable time to discuss matters, but I assure you this will only take a few minutes. Your late husband looked after my business interests.”
“If you’re enquiring about your accounts, I suggest you talk to Shaun, Daniel’s partner. He’s in charge now.”
“Perhaps I’m not making myself clear, Mrs. Elliott. This has nothing to do with your husband’s business.” His tongue darted again. “Daniel and I had a private arrangement. He had access to some very, shall we say, sensitive information. I just want to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.”
Frightened, Grace tried to pull away, but his fingers tightened. “Whoever you are, let me go.”
“In a moment, Mrs. Elliott.”
“You’re hurting me!”
The stranger’s lips twisted into a cynical smile. “That’s good, since it’s my intention.”
“I’ll scream. Someone will come.”
“We’re quite alone out here. If I wanted to, I assure you I could drop you where you stand.”
Grace ceased to breathe. She knew he was right. “What do you want from me? Who are you?”
“Your husband kept files that are of great importance to me.”
“All client files are stored at the office.”
The stranger shook his head. “Not paper files. Electronic files—computer disks.”
“Whether the information you require is on paper or on a computer, I can assure you, I don’t have anything belonging to you.”
He smirked, never blinking, and then released her arm. “You’re telling the truth.”
“Of course I am.”
“It’s a good thing you are. I know when women are lying. You wouldn’t want to lie to me, Mrs. Elliott. Not ever. It wouldn’t bode well for you. Now I’ll let you go. You’ll be late for your appointment with your husband’s solicitor.”
“How do you know that?” Her fingers tightened around the strap of her purse, until her nails dug into her palm.
“It’s my business to know things. By the way, have you spoken to your sister lately?”
Grace’s head jerked up. “That’s none of your business.”
The man merely smiled. “No. Of course it’s not. I won’t keep you any longer, Mrs. Elliott. I’ll be in touch again soon.” He turned and limped away into the mist.
Sweat gathered along Grace’s spine as fear replaced grief. Her heart hammered beneath her ribs. “Wait! Please! Is Catherine in trouble? If you know anything at all about her, please tell me.”
He didn’t turn around. “Goodbye, Mrs. Elliott.”
by: Tammy Elizabeth Southin