Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Cainsville, Book 3
Genres: Adult, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Fiction, Supernatural, Romance
The ride had ultimately landed me here, sleeping in the apartment of one of Chicago’s most notorious defense attorneys. My lawyer. My boss. And, though I’d never dare say it in front of him, my friend (Ch. 1, p. 1-2).
I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to read the Cainsville series because I’m loving every second of it. I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat just waiting to see what happens next. This is the first time I’ve ever read Deceptions, though I’d assumed I’d read it years ago, and Armstrong pulled me into so many different directions that I was shocked throughout the whole read. That’s one of the reasons I love Armstrong’s writing – she’s able to write mystery in a way that always leaves me guessing, always hungering for more. Even with the clues sprinkled throughout the story, the way in which everything comes together just took my breath away.
This book focuses more heavily on the mystery of the Valentines Killers than Visions did, which, in my opinion, brought the focus of the story back to the forefront. While a related mystery has popped up as the series progressed, it was nice to see everything tie back into the original mystery that Olivia was trying to solve.
The complex relationships within this novel are another reason that I find myself unwilling to hop into another world, instead focusing on finishing this series that has my complete, undivided attention. Instead of things getting easier for the cast, relationships continue to be muddled and complex giving the whole book a sense of reality, It was almost as if the situations in this book were happening to real people. Armstrong is fantastic at showcasing this in her writing and Deceptions is a wonderful example.
I’ve got my favourite relationships, though they’re flawed, and I couldn’t ask for anything better. Armstrong has created a world that feels real, filled with silent communication between people showing just how close they are and how deep their trust goes. While I don’t want to actually live in this twisted world, I’ve enjoyed every second that I’ve gotten to visit it.
If you’re looking for a fun mystery with a supernatural twist, you should check this series out. It ties together Welsh mythology and American serial killers in a beautifully wicked way. The romance part of the book doesn’t take center stage which I enjoyed. Instead, Armstrong made it a beautiful secondary plot line to the main events of the story.
First things first, I’d love to talk about Ricky being Arawn, Gabriel being Gwynn, and Olivia being Matilda – basically the biggest love triangle of them all. While I can understand Gabriel’s reluctance to admit that he has anything to do with the situation – especially since he’s trying to deny his feelings for Olivia to himself – he truly went about it the wrong way. You don’t take it out on your friend just because you don’t want to admit that it explains the weird voice in your head that you’ve been hearing for a while now. Of course, Olivia also didn’t handle the situation well by refusing to tell Gabriel about his connection to Gwynn. While both she and Ricky knew that Gabriel wasn’t going to react well to the news, they should have given him the information in a more controlled setting – not just leaving the information out there where so many people know that Gabriel interacts with. Besides, there was a (huge) part of me that wished Olivia had told Gabriel before Ricky knew.
Sure, I understand that Ricky needed to be told things because he was almost killed by that dark elf. But the whole mystical part of her life was something she’d only really shared with Gabriel up until then. Olivia has constantly told Ricky only what he needed to know about the mystical in her life whereas she’d been open and honest about everything with Gabriel. That is, of course, until she found out that he was the reincarnation of Gwynn.
All of this being said, it really hurt that Gabriel went to extremes to try and distance himself from Olivia and the whole Gwynn and Matilda situation. Of course he was upset about everything but he’d promised – promised – Olivia that if she needed him he’d be there for her. And he ignored her calls. He went to sleep even knowing that she was trying desperately to reach him. Was Olivia the kind of girl that would continue to hound someone that didn’t want to speak to her for no good reason? Absolutely not! So he should have known that she was calling for a damned good reason.
Yes, he eventually went to go find her, but at that point it’s too little too late. Her trust in him was destroyed at this point, whether either of them realize it or not. Olivia needed Gabriel – had told him when she had a nightmare about him leaving her and he’d promised it would never happen that way. Yet even knowing that it was her deepest fear, he left her anyways. Heck, Gabriel’s deepest fear is having Olivia leave him yet he continues to push her away.
Looking more in depth at Olivia and Gabriel’s relationship, I just have to point out how much I love the fact that Armstrong touches on the issue of emotional cheating. So many people act as if emotional cheating isn’t actually a kind of cheating – but it is. In Deceptions, Olivia goes through this when she realizes she’s in love with Gabriel. While she would never physically do anything with him since she’s with Ricky, she still realizes that she can no longer spend nights getting drunk and just hanging out with Gabriel. She realizes that she’s getting the emotional connection from Gabriel that a person usually gets from being in a romantic relationship and that this connection isn’t fair to Ricky. There’s trust that goes on in a relationship, and if Olivia had chosen to continue to interact with Gabriel in this manner then she’d be breaking that trust with Ricky. In this way, Armstrong has touched on emotional cheating and clarified why it’s something wrong. Most authors don’t touch this subject and I, for one, applaud Armstrong for bringing this issue to the forefront of the story.
On a much less serious note, I’d like to briefly touch on the car crash that happened at the end of Visions. The reason I bring this up is because of Olivia’s blasé attitude about not paying Gabriel back for the car. Of course it’s ensured so she shouldn’t have to worry about paying for damaged – not that Gabriel would have let her pay for the damages if it hadn’t been ensured – but her reaction to the crash is the same kind of reaction my father had when he smashed his expensive car years ago. Olivia was driven off the road by Macy – resulting in the accident not being her fault – whereas my father slipped on black ice, unavoidable at that moment and making the crash not his fault. What made me think about my father’s accident was Olivia’s words when the deprogrammers were trying to kidnap her.
“I still feel bad. It was a nice car.” I paused. “I’m also sorry about almost getting you killed.”
“She says, as an afterthought.”
“It was a really nice car.”
(Ch. 1, p. 2)
Olivia keeps her blasé attitude about the whole car situation when Gabriel and she visit the Jag dealership. Gabriel lets her take the reins, picking whatever she wants and taking joy out of Olivia giving the sales clerk the run around. Olivia knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to demand it. She knew that if the guy wanted to make the sale he’d give in to her demands and she proved once again that she really is her father’s daughter. Olivia Taylor-Jones is someone who’s going to prove herself (and her commitment to her goals) time and time again.
Going back to the attempted kidnapping scene, though on a very different tangent, Gabriel feels the need to remind Olivia who Chandler is. Mostly he was joking but he was also making a snide remark about how many people were trying to kill her. While at the time I got a chuckle out of this and didn’t think much more of it, the sentiment packs an even bigger punch when Olivia realizes that Tristan is one of the people trying to kill her. She actually believed him when he said he was willing to help, making it too easy for him to lead her into yet another trap where she – and her loved ones – must fight for their lives.
It seems as if anyone that Olivia loves is going to be at risk if murder. Tristan glamoured James into acting like a crazy stalker and then downright killed him when things weren’t going his way enough. He used James as a tool to frame Gabriel for murder and to try and get him out of the picture for good. Framing it to look like the Larsens’ supposed victims was just icing on the cake.
Well, “supposed”. I’m glad that Todd was proven to be innocent and I can’t say that I’m surprised that Pamela actually killed those people. I also can’t say that I’m surprised that the Huntsmen were behind the ceremony and the subsequent curing of Olivia’s spina bifida. I was angered by Pamela trying to blame Todd for everything, though I suspect that Tristan was behind this plan of action along with preventing Olivia from seeing her father to gather the truth for herself. It was heartbreaking to read Todd’s reaction to Pamela throwing him under the bus to Olivia as a way to get closer to her. Sure, she was just trying to protect her daughter and give her the best chance of life, but she went about it the absolute worst way. Olivia’s visions saw to it that she knew the truth about the situation, though.
Okay, because I can’t help it (at all), I just have to mention the mini chapters we get from Gabriel’s perspective. I loved them all and wished that we got more. His is such a twisted psyche that it was interesting to experience the world the way that he did. As well, the moments when he’s with Olivia – whether awake or asleep – make me squirm because he’s trying so hard to not have any feelings for her at all. He’s trying to be her lawyer, her friend, and it’s difficult for him when he’s battling with feelings he doesn’t want to admit to having. These moments – especially when Olivia is asleep and he goes into guard dog mode – make me squirm in the most delicious way. I hope that more scenes like these pop up in the rest of the series and that they lead to the end goal – which is, of course, Olivia and Gabriel together.
The thought of being away from the other – for both Gabriel and Olivia – causes them excruciating pain. Gabriel felt physical pain just thinking about extracting himself from her life as much as he could, proving just how deep his feelings for her went. Hell, even when he was ignoring her calls he couldn’t stop thinking about Olivia and wishing things were better between them. And then Olivia had her nightmare when she thought about Gabriel leaving her. Even though she rationally knew better than to say anything, she had to make him promise – three times – that he wasn’t actually going to leave her. Of course, he did just that when he freaked out but he still meant the words when he said them.
Going back to Olivia’s visions, I loved the way that they showed her the past – both hers and the other fae in the area. She got to experience the horrors of Letitia being drowned by the kelpies and Nathaniel’s men killing the fae on his land. Yet she also got to experience the love that Matilda felt for Gwynn, and to understand the relationship that the three (Gwynn, Arawn, and Matilda) had with each other in a way Matilda never did. It helped Olivia understand what was happening in her life even though her visions seemed to be driving her insane at times and led her into situations she’d much rather have avoided.
It also helped her understand the situation in Cainsville. I do love the attitude that Olivia has taken with the elders and the rest of the townsfolk. Being blunter than ever before with Grace was a fun scene to watch. Especially since Grace admitted that the elders were trying to cock block Ricky and slide Gabriel into Olivia’s field of vision. I also love that Olivia continues to give Patrick grief over the way he treats Gabriel and all but refuses to let him back into her good graces. Even when he’s helping her solve her mysteries, Olivia is short with him now. It’s probably a good thing that Gabriel doesn’t know that Patrick is his father as there’s no telling how he’d react to the news and how Olivia would overreact to his reaction.
While I understand that this story requires Olivia to be with Ricky – to truly be with Ricky in all ways – I can’t wait until Gabriel stops being such a buttface and tells Olivia how he feels about her. Because she’s not going to make the first move, to make it seems as if she’s forcing her feelings onto him. Especially not when he’s already proven that he’s more than just a flight risk. Part of me was hoping that Gabriel was going to tell Olivia how he felt about her before she left on her “vacation” with Ricky, but I knew he wasn’t going to follow through with it. No, it’s too early in the story for things to go that way. I won’t stop hoping that Gabriel proves to Olivia that he’s the one she should be with, but I also know not to expect it to happen for some time.
If you’ve made it this far: thank you for sticking through this long post full of rants and tangents. I’m going to assume that since you slogged through over two thousand words to get to this part that you’ve already read Deceptions so I’d love to know what you thought about the read. What was your favourite or least favourite part of the story? Were there sections of the story that hit you differently than they hit me?
Have you read any of Armstrong’s other works? If so, how do you think this series compares to the others that she’s written? At this point I’ve read almost all of Armstrong’s published works so I’d love to hear your unfiltered thoughts and opinions on them.
Other reviews from this series: