Little White Lies, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Jennifer Lynn Barnes's books must have great elevator pitches: cheerleader spies! Magic-granting tattoos! Teenage FBI agents! Unfortunately, her latest effort, Little White Lies, doesn't fully lean in to the wildness of its Gilmore Girls-meets-Peyton Place premise. Barnes is a solid writer, but her books are never as cheesy as they sound, and this was a story that could have used significantly more cheese.

When Sawyer Taft meets her grandmother for the first time, the older woman makes her an offer she can't refuse: If Sawyer moves in with her and takes part in the debutante season, her grandmother will give her half a million dollars to pay for college. Sawyer agrees, although she has a secret, additional motivation of her own—she wants to discover her father's identity, which her flighty, impulsive mother has always refused to disclose. Unfortunately, it turns out that several of Sawyer's fellow debutantes are caught up in a budding scandal of monumental proportions, and their problems are slightly more urgent than Sawyer's paternity quest.

Little White Lies feels like a lighter version of Barnes's last series, and while I'm happy about the lack of grisly murder scenes, this wasn't the course-correction of my dreams. There's no romance to speak of, and the antagonist(s) turn out to be fairly toothless (at least where our heroine is concerned). If I pick up a book about Southern debutantes bedeviled by dark family secrets, I think the end result should be a lot soapier than this, and I'm hoping the next installment in this series features the teen-literature equivalent of a scene in which a brooding villain rips off her wig.
Posted by: Julianka


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