Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review: Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm

Heart of Lies: A Novel by M.L. Malcolm
Paperback, 336 Pages
Harper Paperbacks; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)

I was provided a copy by the publisher in support of my participation in the TLC Book Tour.

Summary from the book's website:
Meet Leo Hoffman, a dashing young Hungarian with a gift for languages. Because of his talents, he is adopted by a wealthy Jewish family in Budapest, only to have his dazzling new life destroyed by World War I and its aftermath. When his attempt to rebuild his life inadvertently embroils him in an international counterfeiting scheme, Leo escapes with his lover to the decadent city of Shanghai, where he discovers that the gangsters who control the city from the shadows do not intend to let him outrun his past.

My Thoughts:
Heart of Lies provided me with just the right combination of love story and historical fiction.  As a fan of novels set in the World War I and World War II eras, I found something very intriguing about the story that Malcolm created, and something different and unexpected about the setting and the storyline.

Leo's character had many layers that allowed the book to evolve and find new paths.  His talent for languages and even more specifically, his ability to adapt into various cultural and class settings was very impressive.  Writing this character could have easily become forced, but I felt Leo to be genuine, regardless of his circumstance. 

The love story between Leo and Martha, and the obstacles that they overcame to be together was lovely and beautifully told.  Martha's emotions while waiting to be with Leo were real and raw.  Their first days and weeks together in Shanghai seemed to be out of a more modern fairy tale.  I enjoyed seeing how Leo and Martha learned about each other, grew into their new surroundings, and enjoyed amazingly steamy love scene.

Despite my enjoyment of the early portion of the story, as Martha and Leo found each other, I felt a greater connection to the last third of the story that focused on Martha and Leo's daughter Maddy.  Without giving away the plot, I felt that the Maddy went through an evolution of her own, just like her father and mother experienced between Europe and Shanghai.  Maddy's strong character and her experiences brought the story to life and provided the ending and closure that Leo's character needed so badly.

I really enjoyed Heart of Lies, and recommend it highly.  The depth of characters and the very believable storylines created a very successful novel.  I feel like I learned something from the historical settings, but the characters also touched me deeply.

Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour.

Other Participants on this TLC Book Tour:
Tuesday, June 8th: My Two Blessings
Wednesday, June 9th: I’m Booking It
Thursday, June 10th: Books for Breakfast
Monday, June 14th: Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, June 16th: Rundpinne
Tuesday, June 22nd: Raging Bibliomania
Monday, June 28th: Heart 2 Heart
Tuesday, June 29th: Chefdruk Musings
Wednesday, June 30th: Dolce Bellezza

Blog Note: I am an Amazon Associate. I will make a small profit if you purchase a book after following one of the links in this post. Profits will be used to support giveaways and site maintenance.


  1. This sounds like an amazing story :).
    Great review :)

  2. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one! It was one of the few I allowed myself to pick up on a whim at BEA, and I'm looking forward to reading it even more after reading your review.

  3. Great review! Not normally my cup of tea, but I'm certainly intrigued by the story so I think I might pick it up!!!

    Your blog is adorable!!! I love the play on words for the title, very creative... your very creative with your colors and graphics... simply a gift I do not posess!!

    I look forward to future reviews!!

  4. Reviews for this one really seem to differ. I just read one that said the characters were flat, yet you say Leo has many layers. I guess I'm just going to have to read it for myself--there are certainly enough good things said about it to make it worth reading.

  5. I just received this book yesterday and it does sound fascinating! thanks for the review!

  6. I've seen other reviews where readers said they felt disconnected from Maddie's story so I'm glad you enjoyed the final part of the novel! Thanks for being a part of the tour.