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Romance Review – Tell Me No Lies


Tell Me No Lies by Elizabeth Lowell

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)


This is a great romantic suspense read with a heartwarming ending, lots of sizzle between the protagonists and some fascinating information shared about Chinese art, the very Chinese concept of ‘face’, and how international politics game is played by the big boys.  It is a mid-90s release and a book I re-read fairly regularly.


The story revolves around a possible theft of literally priceless antiquities from China.  The FBI wants to find them [or better yet, NOT find them] while protecting their information sources from the Chinese who are also investigating.   To this end they bring in Lindsay Danner, an American expert on Chinese bronzes whose reputation is utterly impeccable.


The story is set at the time when Capitalism had just started to edge its way into the Chinese culture, shepherded by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.  Several of the ‘committee’ sent to investigate the supposed thefts would love to find evidence of the theft with US fingerprints on it and use it as a slap against Xiaoping and his policies… All would like to find out as much about the US information gathering system and sources as they can – and the ‘theft’ gives them that chance.


Enter Chen Yi, titular head of the Chinese committee and a man with many agendas.  One of which is to protect Lindsay – her parents were Chinese missionaries and her mother once saved Chen Yi and Chen Yi’s son.  To this end he uses Jacob MacArthur Catlin, current expert in Pacific Rim relations and ex-CIA agent, by requiring him to repay a debt he owes to the Chen family.   His only job is to aid Lindsay in finding the bronzes and protect her along the way.  To accomplish this they plan to set up a ‘sting’, lure the sellers to where they can be caught.  To do this they must appear to be lovers…


The search is a convoluted and fascinating trip through the high-end art world.  As the book progresses Lindsay is exposed to the seamier side her reputation had protected her from – but as Catlin’s lover and art expert she is assumed to be more ‘flexible’ than previously thought.  Revelations are made that show her own truths in a new and sometimes painful light.


Lindsay is a strong and independent woman but one who is relatively innocent of the uglier truths about international politics, black market art dealing, and the pain associated with living a lie.  Catlin knows all those arenas well and he understands betrayal at his deepest core.  But he has never met a woman like Lindsay…


The interaction between Catlin and Lindsay is compelling – he promises never to lie to her and he doesn’t, even when the truth is unpalatable.  Even so he is gentle and tender with her, helping her to persevere.  But Lindsay is not a woman who can easily lie to the world and she starts losing track – about what is truth and what is lies…  And is Catlin lying to her, giving her what she needs to maintain – or is the attraction real?


It’s a keeper for me.





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