Review: Heart of Deception by M.L. Malcolm

21 Apr

Heart of Deception: A NovelMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This review was a very tricky one for me to write.  I had trouble capturing my feelings about this book in general.  More of an issue was that while I liked Heart of Deception, I’d expected to love it.  I really enjoyed Heart of Lies, and I thought the next book was going to be even better.  I also really enjoyed meeting M.L. Malcolm at BEA last year, and hate the thought of saying anything less than glowing about this book.

I need to be clear here. Overall, Heart of Deception was a good read for me. I just was hoping for more. I liked all of the aspects that I wanted more from. If I didn’t like them, then I could have just written them off.

So for every issue I have, keep that in mind.

What was this book about?  Here’s the publisher’s summary:

A man of many contradictions, Leo Hoffman is a Hungarian national with a French passport, a wealthy businessman with no visible means of support, and a devoted father who hasn’t seen his daughter in years. He is also a spy.

Recruited by the Allies to help lay the groundwork for their invasion of North Africa, Leo intends to engage in as little espionage as possible—just enough to earn his American citizenship so he can get to New York and reunite with his daughter, Maddy. But while Leo dodges death in France and Morocco, Maddy is learning shocking truths about her father’s mysterious past—haunting knowledge that will compel her down her own dangerous path of deception and discovery.

Part of the problem was that I couldn’t figure out what kind of book it was, so I could set my expectations accordingly. I love books that bend genres, but they have to blow away my expectations for all areas they touch.  That’s probably not a fair expectation, but there it is.

I really didn’t get enough of a feel for the time and place of Maddy’s world to see this as straight historical fiction.  Leo’s world was full of those details, but primarily as they related to the spy story.

The spy story is great for a subplot, but isn’t enough to sustain the book. Given the description of the book, I expected Heart of Deception to be more about Leo, but his sections weren’t what dominated the book, at least for me.

I continue to find Leo an fascinating character, able to negotiate any deal except the one that will reunite him with his daughter.

The other characters were interesting, but there weren’t enough of them with the depth for an all out family drama.

Maddy was almost enough to carry the book for me. While I didn’t always like her or her actions, she did make an intriguing character to follow.

I’m conflicted over whether I felt she was justified in her behavior toward her father (given what she knew, not what I as the reader knew). I don’t know if I ever quite bought into her grand love affair, particularly her lover’s side of it. I do think that there was depth to the book here that I didn’t quite latch on to; a comparison between Maddy and her mother, and the difference in the way they handled a sudden, all consuming passion.

The other characters weren’t as well fleshed out, and the only one I liked at all was Maddy’s old Katherine.

The various stories that made up the plot were good, but scattered. They didn’t necessarily connect up in a way that compelled me to see this as a cohesive book.

In the end, I think much of this book is a bridge between the first book in the series and the next one, which I believe is the last. I’m certainly looking forward to reading it, and hope that it redeems the issues I had here.

Would I recommend reading Heart of Deception?  Read Heart of Lies first.  If you enjoy it, go on to this one, but adjust your expectations better than I did.

TLC Book ToursI read Heart of Deception as part of a TLC Book Tour. Thank you to TLC and Harper Collins for the opportunity to participate, and for providing me with a copy of the book to read and review.

For other viewpoints on Heart of Deception, see the other tour stops:


Posted by on April 21, 2011 in books, reviews, tour


Tags: , , , , ,

4 responses to “Review: Heart of Deception by M.L. Malcolm

  1. Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    April 21, 2011 at 9:46 am

    This is a tricky book, and you’re right that it’s hard to figure out what kind of book it is. I thought I was going to read a WWII spy novel, but it wasn’t really that, and that disappointed me. But the story was interesting enough. My biggest issues were with the telling not showing, especially toward the end. But I still enjoyed the book, and I think I liked the story even better than Heart of Lies, which I enjoyed, too.

    I’ll link to your review on War Through the Generations.

  2. Heather J. @ TLC

    April 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I’m sorry this one wasn’t quite as good as you expected, but I also enjoyed meeting Ms. Malcolm at BEA last year and want to give this book a chance simply based on how much I liked it’s author. 🙂

    Thanks for being on the tour Laura! Will you be at BEA again this year?


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