My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sure, there’s the old adage about not judging a book by its cover and all that, but what about judging a book by its title? In the case of “Exceeding Expectations” by Lisa April Smith, readers certainly have just cause to judge it by the title because, after having had the privilege of reading it, I can personally attest that this book went well beyond exceeding my expectations.
Lisa April Smith, who also penned “Dangerous Lies”, has woven an intriguingly rich tapestry of delightful well-developed characters into a perfectly balanced plot bursting with riveting mystery, crimes of the petty and the horrible sort, suspenseful twists, and romantic tension complete with love scenes that sizzle and pop. If you’re looking for a suspenseful romantic mystery novel that you’ll find virtually impossible to put down, even for much-needed sleep, “Exceeding Expectations” contains all the ingredients you seek and more.
Set in the varied and stunning backdrops of early 1960s Palm Beach and Manhattan high society, as well as mid-1930s to early 1940s Paris, “Exceeding Expectations” provided me with so much more than mere entertainment. I found myself transported with ease into different eras by Ms. Smith’s eloquent descriptions and witty turns of phrase. I don’t believe that I’m the only bookworm that tends to learn new things, even from fiction; therefore, I must give much-deserved recognition to Ms. Smith for her keenly descriptive insights into the culture, government, and history of Paris, France during the years just prior and flowing into the atrocities of World War II. I learned things I had not previously been aware of regarding shifts in societal attitudes in the years between WWI and WWII as well as gaining insights into the machinations of Adolf Hitler’s plans for the Nazi German hegemony of continental Europe as experienced from the perspective of the citizens of France at that time.
The characters of “Exceeding Expectations” are replete with such extraordinarily depicted personalities that, not only does the reader feel as though they know them personally, but also one ends up feeling more than a bit attached. There’s the scandalous yet likeable rapscallion, Jack Morgan, whose primary interest has always been that of ensuring the welfare and status of his two pampered daughters, Amelia and Charlie, whatever the cost—even if that means taking his own life. Then we have the tall, beautiful, overindulged yet utterly endearing Charlie, Jack’s younger daughter whom he has raised to believe in herself regardless of the leg deformity she was born with. Much to the dismay of her second stepmother, Petal, Charlie is determined to find definitive answers as to why her beloved father suddenly committed suicide, especially if those answers will, in any way, facilitate the recovery of her older sister, Amelia, from the psychological breakdown she suffered when she finally succumbed to the grief of their father’s unexpected death. Offering to assist Charlie in her quest for answers is the vivacious, handsome, flirtatious, swaggering, and charming young attorney, Raul, an assistant from the law office handling Jack’s estate whose origins happen to be from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks according to the society in which Charlie and Amelia were brought up.
This mystery delves deeper than one could begin to imagine, including crimes spanning decades and oceans. The stylishly written and intoxicating romantic tension escalates to levels that will have the reader fanning themselves while, at the same time, craving more. Complete with shocking plot twists that will quite literally make the reader gasp aloud, “Exceeding Expectations” is a definite must-read for anyone who enjoys thorough entanglement and immersion in a well-written romantic suspense novel.
Did I mention that Lisa April Smith is currently in the midst of creating the sequel to this jaw-dropping novel? Oh yes, indeed, folks. “Exceeding Expectations” ends with a shocking epilogue which is actually the prologue to “Paradise Misplaced” and all I can say without giving away any spoilers is that I absolutely cannot wait to see what comes next from the mind of the incredible, creative, intelligent, and inspiring Lisa April Smith.
In the interest of full disclosure, the author gave me a pre-launch copy of this book in exchange for my honest and thorough review of her creation.
As always, your comments are both welcomed and encouraged. Blessed Be.