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.
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.