Cecily has been telling little white lies for years, both to her husband Carlton, and her mother Venia. With her husband on another continent, and her mother across the country in Corbin’s Bend, what could the harm be?
Everything seems fine until Carlton gets transferred to Denver, and they decide to spend the holidays with her mom in Corbin’s Bend. Carlton doesn’t tolerate lying- and he refuses to stretch the truth to accommodate the lies she has already told, one of which is letting her mother believe that her and Carlton also practice domestic discipline. Cecily can’t bear to strain their already tenuous relationship by admitting the truth, so Carlton offers a solution. When in Corbin’s Bend, do as they do.
She doesn’t count on being there longer than a week, and she certainly doesn’t plan on falling for the town, the people in it, OR her husband’s new dominant ways. Will Cecily’s web of lies lead her to everything she has ever wanted?
I had actually intended to read this book sooner than its slot on my schedule because I was worried that I would be out of the holiday mood by this time. Fortunately for me, even though A Holiday Ruse is set during the holiday season, the focus is wholly on Cecily and Carlton with the time of year being a reasonable and convenient explanation for why they’re able to spend as much time in Corbin’s Bend as they do. It also doesn’t hurt that we’re in the middle of a cold snap, so I’m feeling a bit more holiday-ish.
As someone who has told a white lie on more than one occasion, I understood part of Cecily’s mindset when it came to the little things. Sometimes it is easier to fib a bit to spare someone’s feelings than it is to tell the truth and hurt their feelings – just ask any man who’s been asked if an article of clothing makes his woman’s butt look big. But it’s not the little things that land Cecily in hot water as she and her husband travel to Corbin’s Bend to spend Thanksgiving with her mother, Venia. Not at all. As the couple nears their destination, Carlton learns that Cecily has lied to him and her mother repeatedly for the past four years and NOT about little things. In what starts as a Hail Mary pass, Carlton agrees to go along with Cecily’s lie about them being in a domestic discipline relationship as long as she agrees to accept his punishment for her lying. Amusingly, Cecily agrees because she figures she’ll take the spanking and not get into any more trouble because she just won’t lie. Oh yeah, that definitely had me laughing because it was quickly becoming apparent that four years of engaging in a behavior made it REALLY unlikely that she’d be able to go cold turkey. But as time passes and Cecily finds out just how ingrained her lying is, the couple finds that the pretend arrangement might be better suited as a long-term addition to their marriage.
Because it wasn’t my derriere in the hot seat, I found Cecily’s lying and the subsequent consequences to be amusing fodder for the book. While I was sympathetic to her not wanting to tell her mother about her past lies and potentially damage their relationship, again, it was so easy to see the writing on the wall because no one in Corbin’s Bend considers it an acceptable practice – at least not the HoHs. I was quite relieved that when Carlton had questions regarding domestic discipline and Corbin’s Bend, he was more concerned about getting accurate information than covering for his wife’s misdeeds. This is what made his commitment to DD so believable. He and Cecily having mixed feelings about it as he doled out the punishments also added to the realism of the book. Getting to catch up with some of the couples from earlier seasons was quite the treat, but it was Carlton’s Christmas present to Cecily that made the ending perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed A Holiday Ruse, even if I did take too much delight in Cecily’s pain, and found it to be a great addition to the Corbin’s Bend series.