Dirty Red (Love Me With Lies #2)
QUICK NOTE for those who haven’t read The Opportunist. This review is sorta spoilerish if you haven’t read book #1 yet, so if you have not, of course, skip this review so you can experience the first book in it’s full crazy glory.
And for those who haven’t read #2, I’d say tread lightly if you decide to read the review. Just know that I LOVED IT!! 5 STARS!! What I have written doesn’t actually spoil much (since we pretty much “know”…things and the “obvious” ’cause of book #1) BUT!! Since I felt the need to just analyze the heck out of Leah (and my feelings for Leah), you might want to skip the review until you’ve read this book, and then come back so we can discuss! We must discuss!!
Whoa. That was fantastic. Fan-freakin-tastic. And I was so torn. I struggled with myself, as the book went on. Not with how much I loved the book. THAT was never in question. It sucked me in right from the very first few lines and didn’t let me go once. It’s SO good, and so well written, and so realistically detailed. All thoughts, reactions, conversations, snarky remarks, even the silly little moments and nervous habits were so in tune with real life, and played out perfectly, that yes (and yay!!). I did it!! I became Leah in this one. I was connected to her 100% and it HURT!!!
I went through so many emotions and struggled with my feelings for her. At first, her “disconnection” to a HUGE event in her life had me shocked. Infuriated. But not surprised. I knew how she was, what she was capable of, because of book #1, and that her jealousy knows NO bounds. Her obsession with Caleb is off the charts, and the things she will do to keep his attention is appalling. And then you start this book, and are forced to tack the word “unforgivable” to her character. Oh. You already did in book #1? Just wait. *raises an eyebrow*
Maryse’s Book Blog: Spoiled, selfish and self-centered is taken to a whole other level. I’m appalled, and yet it’s so good.
But… as horrid as Leah can be at times (don’t get me started on the first 15% of the book – ACK!!!!!! This started me on my “unforgivable” kick), she’s just a lonely little girl. She’s learned to play the game, to be the perfect “woman” (as per her affluent, yet unloving parents), and to “fight dirty” as Noah would say. But I think it’s because she’s had to fight all of her life to gain the love of the people that should have loved her unconditionally from the start. Being the perfect daughter, the smart one, the polite one, the one constantly trying to seek approval, and doing everything in her “perfection” to actually earn it. And it never worked. (side note: “Jo/Johanna” is “Leah” in the quote below). You’ll get the full story in the book.
My mother loved my sister. My sister was worthy of love. I remember walking in on them once, as she was brushing Courtney’s hair after her bath. She was telling her a story about when she was a little girl. Courtney was giggling, and my mother was laughing along with her.
“We would have been good friends if we’d grown up together. You are just like me when I was your age.” I sat on the edge of the bathtub to watch them.
“What about Jo?” Courtney asked, shooting me a smile that was missing it’s front teeth. “Would you have been good friends with her too?”
It was like she hadn’t even noticed I was in the room until Court said my name. She blinked at me slowly, and smiled at her youngest daughter. “Oh you know Johanna and her books. She wouldn’t have had time to play with us, all that reading she does.”
I wanted to tell her that I would burn every book I owned to be a part of their little mother/daughter club.
There was a time when she wasn’t a backstabber. She wash’t a schemer. She wasn’t a ruthless b*%ch out for herself. She just wanted to be loved. That’s it. And she was willing to be the perfect daughter to have it.
But now, she’s emotionally stunted. Was never truly allowed to love and be loved, and reprimanded at every turn for just… being her. You’ll see. And I believe it. This isn’t some calculated “pity-me” lie we’re talking about. This is Leah, wide open, and bleeding, because while her face is schooled into remaining impassive, her mind is racing, and her heart is constantly fracturing. And we are in there, with her. She does her best to hide every single part of her, to her entourage. No tears, no real emotions, no reactions to good or bad. Everything is planned out.
In fact, one of the unexpected men in her life (that I sort of really liked… a lot) would say some of the most horrible things to her (or maybe more like telling it to her like it is without softening the blow), and she wouldn’t flinch.
“You are the single most offensive woman I have ever met, you know that?”
In fact, their… “chemistry” if you can call it that, was refreshing. Real. He saw through her, and at some point, she gave up trying to show him anything else. And I think it did her (and us) some good.
She’s so used to being the “villain”, in doing what she has to, to get what she wants. I think, in her mind, it’s the only way she can. So focused on constructing an image, working her plan, not being her, that she won’t let anyone get to know her. She can’t. She won’t. And therein lies her problem. Who she is on the outside (the only part of her that anyone ever has access to) is not 100% her.
He doesn’t want me for who I am. He wants to make me someone else. This is a game Caleb and I have been playing for years. He gives me a standard by which to live, I fail.
Each time she exposes a bit of herself hoping for love, she finds herself hurting.
And here’s the weird thing. I was so caught up in Leah’s pain, that I sort of forgot Olivia and Caleb’s intensity. I mean, deep down I know I want them together. After all, we KNOW how they feel about each other, after book #1. There is no denying how deeply in love they are and that there will never truly be anyone else for them. And of course I’m dying to re-immerse myself back into that intense passion and get that angsty relief.
But Leah’s pain and obsession over Caleb… wow! She loves him on a scary level. We knew that but this time… I felt it. I lived it. I believed it.
I’d yielded my soul to Caleb willingly. Offered it up like a sacrificial lamb.
This was almost just as painful as Olivia’s mess in book #1. The absolute agony of realizing he followed through with Leah instead of Olivia in book #1 devastated me. I thought to myself, “how COULD he?!!” I felt betrayed. How could he be SO in love with one woman, his true love, and STILL continue on with LEAH!!! Ugh. I couldn’t beleive it. I couldn’t fathom that he could be like “that” with another woman (especially Leah). Yep. Pure betrayal, for me.
But then, to sit here and live it through Leah’s eyes (moments from the past…
“Hello, Leah.” He sort of half smiled as he shook my hand and then dismissively turned back to the television. I knew his type. You had to play hard to get with boys that had crooked grins. They liked the chase.
… and plenty from the present) was painful, too. Cringeworthy. Over and over again I thought to myself, Leah… how could you accept this? How could you live and work SO hard at something that should come so naturally. How can you put yourself through this constant stress, and mistrust, and worry? This heartbreak for loving someone so much more than he can ever love you back is inevitable. And yet, you keep trying. And with all that trying, you keep making things worse.
The most expressive part of Caleb is his jaw. I use it to read his emotion. It is square, manly – only softened buy his overly full lips. When that jaw is happy with you, you want to trace it with your fingertips, reach on your tiptoes to run kisses across it. The jaw is angry with me. His lips are white anger pulled tight. I am afraid.
She’s so busy playing a part, and it’s a part she doesn’t know how to play. She’s so busy trying to control it all, that she’s losing everything. Especially herself.
A desperate, lonely woman fighting to keep a broken-hearted man.
… and I know from experience that nothing can compete with a memory.
Leah may have been the “winner” but I’m certainly not seeing… no… feeling her elation. Deep down, to know that he will always be in love with Olivia, and that she was (and will always be) second. Even if he gave his life to her, he’ll never give her his heart. That sounds like losing to me. And now she also feels betrayed, in her own messed up way. Even if she knew it was imminent. And I felt her agony through it all.
I have done a number of things to keep this man. I have lied and cheated. I have been sexy and meek, fierce and vulnerable. I have been everything but myself.
He is mine right now, but I am never enough for him. I can feel it — see it in the way he looks at me. His eyes are always probing, searching for something. I don’t know what he’s looking for. I wish I did.
She’s a mess, and so destructive, and sooooooo hurt. So deeply broken, she’s willing to accept scraps, and that hurt me so much for her. She’s horrible, and yet… not. I don’t know what to do with her, and what to do with how I experienced her. True love, real unconditional love, will fix her. I know it. And then I don’t have to feel so guilty for temporarily “siding” with the enemy.
Yep. There. I said it. And for that, I’m sorry to admit this to the true Leah-haters, but I don’t hate her. She’s so terribly broken. Who she is today is in direct reflection of what she lacked during her most formative years. Ohhh she’s gonna hit rock bottom if she hasn’t already. She needs therapy and to let herself be herself. And to love herself. And to learn to truly love someone else, unconditionally, with no demands other than just… being. And maybe then, will she she be happy.
And I hope that for her. I truly do. I feel sad for her. Not pity… more like empathy.
This is a one-sided love story. *sigh* Not so romantic, but so good, anyway. All of that angst, yearning, pining and desperation. All for that love-drama. It’s still here. Just through different eyes.
So do we like Leah, now? Umm… I’ll let you decide. I’m still hearing “I hate Leah” shouts, from those finishing up #2. And you know… that last part in the book reeeeallllly worries me.
Michelle: I just finished!!!! I cannot WAIT for Caleb’s book!!!! Great book !
Kirsten: I wish I could feel some sympathy for Leah, I just can’t.
Mariel: Just finished reading this book… I do not like Leah at all… Love Sam though Olivia has really grown and so has Caleb!!!
Xilonen: OMG! I just finished could not put it down!! I hate her so much!! Kind of bummed there wasn’t more of Olivia. I can Not wait for Caleb’s book. We need a therapy page for this book Maryse! Does anyone know when Caleb’s book is coming out?