Book Review: One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

Title: One Tiny Lie
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #2
Author: K.A. Tucker
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published: 06/11/2013
Publisher: Atria
Genre(s): Contemporary New Adult


In this follow-up novel to the top-selling Ten Tiny Breaths, Livie Cleary faces a new set of challenges as she navigates freshman year at Princeton, wild parties, and the gorgeous rowing team captain who is everything she doesn’t want in a guy, or so she thinks…

“Make me proud.” These were the last words Livie’s father ever spoke to her. In the seven years since her parents’ tragic death, Livie has done her best to keep this promise through her every choice, word, and action, while looking after her sister with strength and maturity. But with college right around the corner, unexpected challenges will test her resilience—and her heart.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy to marry someday. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots; a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say “no” to; and Ashton, the arrogant—and extremely attractive—captain of the men’s rowing team who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

*minor spoilers contained herein*

To begin, let me say I thought Livie and her story were "remarkable!" I felt the preceding book in the series, Ten Tiny Breaths, was a very good read, but there's something special about Livie...

First impressions: I loved the beautiful cover, was intrigued by the title, and found the "blurb" to be altogether tempting. All very effective at building anticipation for a new release; especially in a continuing series. Well done!

The few hours I spent reading One Tiny Lie I chuckled, laughed, sighed, trembled, and cried. Oh, not ugly crying for I didn't find any element of it that crushing; thank goodness. I wanted the worst to be behind Livie and Kacey—no more devastating setbacks, please! Livie certainly faced a lot of challenges in the book, but those challenges got her to rethink the life plan she put into effect with the death of her father, in particular.

Livie was pretty much the polar opposite of her outrageous sister, Kacey—in appearance, in behavior, in their opposing lifestyles...just about every way, but in sisterly affections, they were united.

The book began with this epigraph:
    I walk away.
    I walk away from the voices, the shouts, the disappointment.
    I walk away from my deceptions, my mistakes, my regrets.
    I walk away from all that I am supposed to be and all that I cannot be.
    For all of it is a lie.
Powerful, right? It certainly got me all shivery and wanting to find out exactly what had happened to influence this dramatic decision.

Very early on in the book Kacey had traveled with Livie to Princeton to help her settle in. Livie had only just decided to have regular "chats" with her sister's highly unconventional therapist, Dr. Stayner. Between his suggestions, Kacey's guidance, and Livie's new roommate, Reagan's, influence Livie was pretty much blackmailed into attending a Toga Party her first night on campus. What ensued was waaaaaay too much drinking, recklessly outlandish behavior, and several other "firsts" for Livie. Let me say that I am not a fan of excessive drinking in any scenario—real life or in fiction, and I especially dislike underage drinking. However, even with my being displeased about the excessive drinking in One Tiny Lie I still found myself laughing over the shenanigans that occurred while Livie, in particular, was sauced! I would have to attribute my finding any humor at all in the drunkenness of these young people to the inordinately sharp and witty exchanges that managed to occur despite their inebriated state. I very much appreciated that the author relied on clever verbal exchanges rather than incoherent ramblings, which would not have been interesting in the least. So, kudos for K.A. Tucker for making her characters fascinating even while drunk! :)

For those of us eager to get to the introduction of the romantic hero in our books, during that same party, while doing Jell-O Shots, Livie met Ashton Henley in a rather, um, forceful way. I won't divulge specifics, but he certainly made an impression - an impression so strong that sweet Livie let loose with her first-ever punch! Afterward, Kacey threatened Ashton on behalf of her sister, and in her verbal diatribe used the word "capisce!" The use of that word was perfection. It got me good!

Of course, even with being drunk, overly confident, a "giant ass", and, let's face it, a man whore, Livie still found Ashton "dreamy." Apparently, even first impressions of a hugely offensive nature weren't everything, because the things that Livie and Ashton did later that evening were all kinds of crazy. Some of those things led to Ashton giving her a new nickname, and both of them ending up with permanent reminders of their escapades! And, when she didn't remember much, would he tell her? Yes, but only incrementally, and only with bargaining playing a part. What a tease he was!

As the story proceeded other characters were introduced, including Connor, who in all ways should have been Livie's perfect guy. He was polite, charming, smart, good looking, and had an Irish brogue that reminded her of her father's. See? Should have been perfect. Upon meeting him she was not made aware of exactly whose friend and roommate he was though. Oops!

I don't recall much of the book actually taking place during class or times of study. I think most of it dealt with character interaction—Livie's with Reagan, with Connor, with Dr. Stayner, and with Ashton. Livie also has a few emotional volunteer visits with a couple of brothers in a playroom at Children's Hospital. *sniff*

More parties were attended, too much drinking inevitably occurred, Connor was unceasingly charming, and Ashton continued to show up—frequently. In effect, he drove Livie to distraction. He flirted and teased and had her doubting her sensibility. She should have thought him off limits for many reasons, including a "complication" Livie's good sense recognized as the biggest barrier of all.

Even though Ashton avoided answering Livie's personal questions, and alternated between dallying with her and telling her he was no good for her I wasn't driven crazy by their collective self-denial. I contribute that to strategic plot development. Kathleen Tucker carefully created a storyline where Ashton's secretive nature and Livie's uncertainty only made me want to uncover what made these two tick, and not pull out my hair in exasperation. So, some angst, but not overdone. What a relief!

Also, despite the fact that no outright declarations of love were made Ashton would stir Livie up saying things like:
“Because you’re not a one-night girl, Irish.” Leaning in to place a kiss on my jawline, he whispers, “You’re my forever girl.”
However, he didn't just say things to make her reconsider her not-so-favorable opinion of his character—he did things too.

After she admitted to herself that she was indeed attracted to him she thought this:
Wait. Is he available? He never answered my question. But I guess a whore is always available, so it’s a moot point.
Oh Livie, you are precious!

When she consulted with Dr. Stayner about how to tell when a guy really liked you, Dr. Stayner shared this bit of "knowledge" with her:
“It’s usually by the things he does rather than the things he says. And if he does them without making a show of it, then he’s got it bad.”
The chemistry between Livie and Ashton really couldn't be denied, and even though it was pretty much instantaneous the "build" was still very much present. That is an important part of this kind of romance, I think. Inevitably Livie's empathetic and observing nature provided her with insight into some of the horrors from Ashton's past. This led to the pivotal event, which further inspired the epilogue at the beginning of the book and featured above.

I want to clarify that although this is not a wrapped-up, happily-ever-after ending it does insinuate a promising future for Livie and Ashton. This is a perfectly wonderful way to end book two in the Ten Tiny Breaths Series and to mentally prepare for the wait for book three, Four Seconds to Lose. That will be Cain's story, and it has an expected publication date of November 4, 2013.

Autograph from the Richmond Author Event 12/14/2013!