Dirty Red by Tarryn Fisher: Book Review

Tarryn Fisher gives justice to her characters. In this second installment of Love Me With Lies, she proves that villains are never flat celluloid characters as she takes on Leah's perspective in this book, Dirty Red. Adversaries were shaped to be the way they are, they are not born into it.

Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Series: Love Me With Lies #2
Size: 265
Date Published: December 21, 2012
Publisher: Self-published
ISBN13: 2940016148595
Edition: eBook

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Dear Opportunist,

You thought you could take him from me, but you lost. Now, that he's mine I'll do anything to keep him. Do you doubt me? I have everything that was supposed to be yours. In case you were wondering; he doesn't ever think about you anymore. I won't let him go....ever.

Dirty Red
Leah Smith finally has everything she has ever wanted. Except she doesn't. Her marriage feels more like a loan than a lifelong commitment, and the image she has worked so hard to build is fraying before her eyes. With a new role and a past full of secrets, Leah must decide how far she is willing to go to keep what she has stolen. [source:goodreads]

To understand what this book is all about, read The Opportunist first. This book wouldn't stand alone unless you're only looking for Cersei Lannister's alternative for entertainment. And think of this review whose reviewer has a mindset almost aligned with the book's protagonist.


Dirty Red starts where The Opportunist left off—after Leah gave birth to a child but before Olivia married Noah. Of course, nothing went well with Caleb no matter how much the ending of the first book pushed it. Lots of things will be revealed here but aren't enough for the entire series. The ending would bring Leah to the brim and we'll just see what's in store for us in the next book.

Tarryn still adopts her style of alternating between the Past and the Present Chapters. She's really good at it, she is still coherent while jumping. And I'm more amazed with her when she jumps to the past to emphasize something either on the previous Present Chapter or the next.

It wasn't hard for me sifting through Leah Smith's head or point of view. It's like reading Cersei Lannister's shallow fears, frustrations and ineffective plots against everybody else in her world... who isn't her. Nothing is shocking (well, just for me). And you get to understand Leah more. Have I told you how much I love A Song of Ice and Fire series, showing different perspectives of all its villains and antiheroes in every chapter? Yeah, I do have fun getting inside the head of everybody. At least, that’s how I felt reading that series. It’s because of that series that I engrossed myself in this one, Love Me with Lies since it promised lies and dirty plots.

Obviously, it isn't my first time reading in the POV of a vile character or a villain. It's not just about A Song of Ice and Fire series. As a kid (like before I hit 12), I'd read so many horror books written in the perspective of antiheroes bent on capturing and killing their victims. So I don't have much qualms about Tarryn Fisher's approach in this sequel for Opportunist. The only difference is that the other books I read are from different genres like paranormal, fantasy, and horror which are so unlike this book which is realistic. The things that are happening in this book are so "normal" that having a character whose very person deviates from what is normal or humane is really disturbing.

I just couldn't believe that there could be someone as insufferable as Leah. Why couldn't she simply let somebody go? I know I'm insufferable to my parents right now, but I came from them. I have their blood. But Leah's making people out of her blood suffer for her. That's just unacceptable for me. I think that people with such stone of a heart have a mental illness. And I don't know how that illness can be cured. Okay, I'm having mixed feelings right now. (I'm from a family with mental problems. Fortunately, I don't have one. Maybe I'm just undiagnosed. *Shivers*)

I could understand where she is coming from just based on the info revealed here by the author. But! There's a thing called soul, right? Can't she listen to the call of what is called conscience? Oh, right. She's a viper. She only imbibes negative energy to her soul if she has one. Oh yeah, my mistake. Might be that she doesn't believe in a soul. Fortunately, I'm from a Christian country so we were *forced* to be shaped good.

Call me sick but I could really relate to her. If you had gone through so much, hating is very easy. Hurting others to get even with your pains would be like nothing. Or... you are hurt so much that you wouldn't care if others are hurting too. You'd think that their hurt won't rival yours. Or hating will just make you so numb towards others. You simply wouldn't care about anything but yourself. It's like a strong force pulling you in that once you get absorbed, you will never get out. Hating is like a heroine that could get you high. Whatever it induces becomes an addiction—like verbally abusing someone and worse, getting so angry until your vision blacks out that you could hit someone repeatedly without feeling anything even when they hit you back. It's very dangerous when you get hold of something almost like a weapon if not one. For that at least, I could say that Leah is still sane for not even trying to kill anyone.

And yeah, sometimes revenge is a very sweet thing.
A little honest loathing might be refreshing, like a tart wine after too much sweet.
—Tyrion Lannister, A Dance with Dragons

But she wallows too much on her insecurities that it becomes an obsession to her. I couldn't call her a psycho because she hasn't done anything beyond control (on a murderous level). It's just her feelings and what she could bring out from them. Well, I do remember all of the measures she did to put a shackle on Caleb (Olivia's apartment and then that cretin of a fiancé). For that, I think she has borderline personality disorder.

“I had a C-section,” she announces.

Of course I know this. Katine has regaled me with her disgusting birth story over a dozen times. I look away, bored, but her next words make my head snap around.

“Your vagina is going to be all stretched out and useless now.”

Damn it. I have my reasons why I would have C-section if I get to deliver a baby someday. If I marry. (Why am I so pessimistic with ifs?) But I never thought of that one. I was born complete breached. My sister was delivered with umbilical cords around her neck. I don't want to suffer the same with my mother if I were to become one. And definitely, I wouldn't risk my baby breaking his neck or having him grow into an autistic one if there's a moment of lack of oxygen with that umbilical cord looping. I just love Tarryn Fisher for having come up with such a despicable dialogue. Now, she gave me new ideas.

My friend told me that I'd appreciate Noah more on the second book. And that's the only reason I read this. It took a lot of waiting. And he only appeared once. What made me happy with that single incident though is that Leah appreciated his damn-hot-looks. But it's not his looks that have me swayed but his character, the way he's so naughty with others, even towards Leah. And more on how he perceives Leah. He never judges badly. He appreciates people with all their flaws.

And witnessing Olivia's married life just consumed more hatred for Leah. Yes, Olivia is only going to appear near the end, very briefly. This is all about Leah’s feelings after all. She's definitely obsessed with Olivia. Though I hate her so bad, I like her fire. Her determination not to lose to anyone or anything even for the most ludicrous and absurd reason is just impossible that I like it. She is so hard; you can't dent her with a mallet, not even Thor's hammer. Everything about her is so palpable—she doesn't filter her words nor downplay her actions—I don't know whether to be amused with her or be mad if I were to meet her in real life. I wonder how she got friends.

And now I'm questioning my own. I sort of find my selfishness in her, just to be honest. Except that I let people go, even friends whom I think are suffocated with me.

One time in an anthropology class, my gay professor asked everyone to raise their right hand if they admit they're a bitch. His hand was raised. We thought it was just for an example. And then he remarked on how much of a hypocrite we are. He admitted that he's a bitch. A bitch is someone who gets what he/she wants. And s/he fights for it. And we're bitches in our own ways.

Leah is such a bitch. And I'm a bitch too. But the way she is is way beyond me. She fights too hard she doesn't care if she plows someone along the road. If you're looking for her humane side, you can find it in shallow waters. The rest of the lake ain't humane anymore. It’s ice cold.

If there's one new character I like in this book, that's the new nanny or “manny”, Sam. He's something else entirely when you get to know him. He's a cousin of Cammie. Go figure this book out, I don't want to spoil. I swear, I'm imagining Zach Galifianakis as the manny!

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