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Saturday, August 25, 2012

No More Lies

Talking about abuse and physical violence is such a complex and painful subject for many women that one should approach it very carefully. In my medical romance, NO MORE LIES, I kept the physical violence in the back story and mentioned it sparingly.

 My heroine doesn’t want to remember the past, doesn’t want to talk about it and carefully hide it from her daughter and from the man she loves. As a successful psychiatrist, she treats abused patients and projects the appearance of a strong woman and dedicated doctor. Yet, because of her inner fears, she refuses to face her distressing experience and deal with her problem. Olivia is so terrified about the past catching up to destroy her daughter’s peace of mind, that one little lie leads to another, and another,… until the past catches up with her.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott.
By the way, I should mention that far from being a dark novel, NO MORE LIES is a sweet and spicy story that will make you smile, laugh and cry-- the story of two psychiatrists with conflicting theories on how to treat their patients and tame their own emotions.

 Now, a reader got very upset at my heroine and labeled her a Disappointing Heroine, giving me a 1*, and complaining about the heroine’s bad decisions. Rather than directly answering her, I will report her comments here and answer them:

“The story begins promisingly with Olivia's past love, Luc, showing up unexpectedly at her work - little did she know that he had a new name and that she'd recommended he be hired for a job based on his publications!... Olivia's got plenty of good secrets, and some good reasons for those secrets, but she also makes a lot of seriously stupid decisions. The thing is, I'd be able to connect with her anyway and be more understanding of those stupid decisions if it wasn't for her job as a highly respected psychiatrist. She should know better than to lie to her daughter and let her believe that her father was a dead war hero. And plan on telling her daughter the truth about the abusive man who demanded Olivia get an abortion when Melissa turns TWENTY FIVE. Seriously? I could almost understand someone doing that... if they weren't shrink.”

Dear Reader, why are you claiming to know what a shrink would do or say? Do you think a shrink would advocate a truth that could deeply affect her daughter’s mental health?

By the way, my book is based on the true story of a friend, paralyzed by fear for most of her life. To protect her child, this abused woman distorted the truth and buried it as deep as possible. With great effort, she managed to build a successful career as a psychiatrist and sacrificed love and marriage to create a happy family atmosphere for her child. Life was good for her and her child, in spite—or maybe because—of the few lies that embellish the painful past and ugly truth. Now that's her opinion, and the path she'd chosen.

Back to my very enthusiastic “fan”!

“Plus then there's the fact that every time she gets a single mother in her office she consistently tries to put her own warped philosophy on them - that they need to be strong and independent and that they shouldn't allow a man to help them, even if the man wants to. Like wow... how did this woman get her professional reputation again?”

 I am pretty sure that any psychiatrist, or any successful career woman, would encourage women to be strong and independent. I had many female chemists reporting to me in my lab. They can attest to how, as their Director, I urge them to rely on themselves. That certainly didn’t preclude—for them and me—being happily married and honoring thy husband!

Again from my reviewer: “Unfortunately the heroine's constant bad decisions and hypocrisy really took away my enjoyment of this book in light of what her character should have been like. I think there were a lot of other directions her character could have gone in, within these circumstances that would have made the book stellar.”

Dear fan, the heroine faced a lot of internal conflict. The hero tried to help and succeeded in making her reach the right decision at the right time. Isn’t that what a story is about? Conflict and growing arc? Would you rather have a perfect heroine, without any flaw? Then why would I write her story?

And here is why I call her a fan: “I've enjoyed a lot of Mona Risk's other books and I'll be sticking to them.”

 Thank you, dear reader. I’m glad I’ve elicited such a heated discussion for my book.

What would you choose? A lie that brings a smile, or a truth that draws tears?

This is how another reviewer commented on the story:

MY OPINION by Toni Sweeney: A good book and a very romantic love story. In describing Jeremy Rutherford, Ms. Risk give a chilling portrayal of a man who, right or wrong, has to have his way. Other reviewers have said the portrayal of Olivia’s reactions aren’t realistic. Let me tell you: They are. Having been in this same situation, I reacted the same way Olivia did, though in my case, I ran 1500 miles away from the source of the threat.
Characterizations are spot-in and Luc is a man we might all wish we could meet in real life. Though in the beginning, Olivia comes across as cruel in her treatment of him, once the cause is learned and the reason for her fear, her giving up everything, even the man she loves to protect her child doesn’t seem so cold after all.
Do you think Olivia should have told her child the truth at a young age? When is the right age to tell your child: “Your father was a jerk and wanted me to get rid of you?”

Do you think the abusive father has the right to be informed of his daughter’s existence?

NO MORE LIES     http://tinyurl.com/79r88wp available for 99 cents
   A lie that brings a smile... or the truth that draws tears?
Dr. Olivia Crane lives a quiet life. No one questions why she doesn't socialize or where she spends every weekend.

When the visiting physician from France strolls into her office, with open arms and a confident smile, her perfect control is about to crumble.
Good God, he can't be Dr. Luc George, the man she loved ten years ago? Should she return his scorching kisses, or should she lock her door before he digs into her many secrets?

Secret daughter, secret friend, secret enemy. Had Luc really known his sweet Olivia back then? He wants her back, but he wants the truth, too. Now, Olivia has to face her past before she can grab her second chance.



  1. The question whether to tell a daughter--maybe beginning at a young age--about how abusive her father was and a jerk, besides, is very difficult. I've thought many times that an adult does not need to share her inner feelings and hang-ups with a child. When that child turns into an adult, then do you tell the truth now? I wonder. I'm still not sure a person should reveal her deepest fears with her offspring.
    If a father treated the mother badly, I believe that's somewhere their business. What should she tell a child? I'm not sure about that, either--since I don't know about this first-hand---but I do know woman who suffered like this.
    I read the book and I think Olivia most likely did her best. The only quarrel I would have with Olivia is telling an outright lie.
    Very good post, Mona--thoughtful and insightful.

  2. I think your "fan" was trying to write her own story. She had an idea where the story was going and when you went a different direction she didn't like it. A strong reaction is still a reaction to your writing. Brava!!

  3. Celia, I also met the woman with the opposite problem. She stayed in an abusive relationship. After 25 years they are still together, the kids hate their dad and are terrified of him. And she seems like a slave to the jerk, but she has no parents or siblings, or anyone to help her get out. In my book Olivia doesn't tell a lie. She just lets her daughter believe what she wants. "Daddy died a war hero in the Kuwaity war, like Suzie's Dad." Olivia doesn't deny.

  4. Mona, No matter how well educated, each of us makes mistakes. That's what being human means. And the closer we are to the problem, the less objective we are, which is why physicians are advised NOT to treat their own immediate family. I've known many women who have hidden fear from their children, my aunt included. Was she wrong? I think so, but then it was her decision to make, not mine. She was a wonderful woman whom I respected and loved. She would have done anything legal to protect her children. I believe your heroine Olivia was very believable and heroic. Like msot of us, she did what she believed best for her child.

  5. Hi Jill, I like your theory. Still she seriously shook me. Good thing that Toni Sweeney's review came to cheer me up. Especially when she said, "I have been in Olivia's shoes and I acted the same way."

  6. I agree with you, Carolyn. My friend who inspired the story never told her daughter the truth, yet the daughter is a woman now. The mom wrote it in a secret diary to be given to her daughter after her death. There she explains why she did what she did. As you say, each one does what she believed is the best for her child.

  7. I'm glad I remembered to check the blog when I got home. Good post, Mona. Thanks.

  8. Mona, your posts make me think! Your books grab me! I loved this story the first time. Thanks, again.

  9. At times the past can rule our lives more than we want it to.

    Morgan Mandel