When I got this one in the mail I shrieked and did a happy dance even though I was still miserably wearing my sick girl pajamas. I'd been dying to read it ever since reading Kiss Me Kill Me last year.
Kisses and Lies starts right where Kiss Me Kill Me left off: in the middle of 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield's investigation into the murder of the first boy she ever kissed, Dan McAndrew.
Yes, you read that right. You can imagine why I found the first book's ending so very frustrating. While there is a bit of a recap at the beginning of this book, I'd definitely suggest reading the series in order -- both for the mystery details and to see Scarlett's transformation from shy girl desperate for popularity and terrified of being embarrassed to mostly confident amateur sleuth who'll do whatever she must to find out what she needs to know.
There's so much to love about these books: Scarlett is British and her co-investigator, Taylor, is American, so there's always a bit of the culture clash going on, the combination of crime novel and Gossip Girl-ish Rich Kids Behaving Badly novel works so extremely well that I wish it would become a subgenre in its own right, and Scarlett's confusion about her various love interests* is spot on. Her friendship with Taylor, the class differences with her gardener love interest, her family issues, her athleticism, her voice... it's all good. This is one of those rare series that could appeal to readers who love the RKBB genre as well as to readers who want to punch the entire RKBB genre in the face. So yay for that, too.
I found myself suspecting almost every character of some sort of malfeasance at one point or another, and though I spotted the villain a little while before Scarlett did, I never found her investigatory style even remotely slow or dimwitted. Which might not sound like a huge compliment, but it is. Mystery-wise, the story seems to be wrapped up, but the stage is clearly set for more action. So bring it, Lauren Henderson. I'm looking forward to more, more, more!
*Unlike whatsherface in the Cast vampire books, Scarlett's multiple love interests don't make her sound like a tramp. They make her sound like a real person. I have to admit that after just a few scenes with the New Boy, I'm ready to throw over her original crush for him -- and I'm not usually fickle like that. But maybe I'll feel differently when Book Three rolls around. There'd better be a Book Three...