Janelle Brown | April 2020 | pgs: 496
I’m so far behind in writing and/or publishing reviews, I feel compelled to share what was happening in my world at the time I read the book! I started this one late June a few weeks before my birthday. I remember being a bit bummed I wouldn’t be travelling for my birthday but I was planning to enjoy a quiet day with close family in my parents pool. Thanks to y’all’s (Now LAME DUCK) President posturing and politicizing the pandemic, race and everything in between, I was not in the mood for books about the challenges of the black experience. I was watching people live that – I wanted to escape. Lucky me, some really good, suspenseful thrillers were released early 2020 and I dove in – Little Secrets, Saint X, Southern Book Club had been completed. Click the links to see reviews to those babies!
Pretty Things revolves around a band of grifters working on their next con. We meet Nina, the daughter of a professional grifter, with a seemingly complicated and dependent relationship with her mother, Lily. Momma Lily is preparing for her second round of Cancer treatment with no money and a slim chance it will be successful. Nina wants to provide the financial support to her mom but, her last con didn’t pan out the way it should have and she, and boyfriend Lachlan, are in need of a quick take. Due to the pressure, Nina chooses a mark closer to home than she usually would have: Vanessa. Vanessa is a young, rich, Instagram influencer that Nina has been following since childhood when she dated her brother, Benny. 🙄 Benny has since been diagnosed as schizophrenic but, before, he and Nina had enjoyed a hot relationship that ended publicly and poorly. Lachlan is skeptical, not wanting to run a scheme too close to ‘home’ or their truth, but Nina pushes it forward.
Pros: The story is a really good one and filled with twist and turns around complicated characters. Ultimately its a story of a triple cross con, with maybe a side plot of a romantic triangle. Lily raised her daughter to covet pretty things and understand their value…sometimes over people. Its also nice to see people get what they deserve and this story delivers that in spades.
Cons: The big ending was pretty unbelievable and dragged on several more pages than it should have. Unfortunately, i cant go into details because that would spoil the reveal but…your going to read the book right? Come back and tell me what you think about the boat scene. 🤦🏾♀️
I enjoyed learning the backstory and motivations to Nina’s actions. I also enjoyed reading a fictionalized version of a behind the scenes look at an IG influencer. I wish the author had spent equal time developing Lachlans story. He becomes pivotal and we never learn much about him. I think the romance thing would have played out better had we gotten to know him. A great idea would be a follow up prequel so we can learn his backstory.
Overall, great book. Interesting story. This was a fast paced, quick read – I finished it over a weekend. If you like suspenseful thrillers, this ones for you! #GoodBook 30 of 42!
The StoryGraph summary: (😜)
Two wildly different women–one a grifter, the other an heiress–are brought together by the scam of a lifetime in a page-turner from the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Me Disappear.
Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.
Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer–traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: A mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.
Nina, Vanessa, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.
This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play.