Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering | Summary & Review

‘Tell Me Lies’ is a deep exploration of love, addiction, and the tumultuous journey of self-discovery set against the backdrop of college life and early adulthood. By any means, it’s not your average romance novel.

Tell me lies

This fiction book review dives deep into its characters, story, and plot to help you decide if this book is your cup of tea. 

Tell Me Lies: Summary

The plot revolves around two characters, Lucy and Stephen. The novel portrays the complexities of young love, the perils of manipulation, and the challenging journey of self-discovery. 

The alternating perspectives provide a multifaceted view of a relationship marked by passion, deceit, and eventual growth. 

Setting & Main Characters: 

The narrative is primarily set in New York and California, revolving around two primary characters: Lucy Albright and Stephen DeMarco. The story unfolds through their alternating perspectives.

  • Lucy Albright: A bright and hopeful young woman, Lucy hails from a privileged background in California. As she steps into her college life in New York, Lucy hopes to leave behind the scars of her mother’s sudden departure in her teens.
  • Stephen DeMarco: Charming and magnetic, but deeply troubled, Stephen is a master manipulator who battles his demons – stemming from family issues and personal insecurities.

College Years:

New to the college, Lucy, yearning for new experiences and connections, encounters Stephen. Their attraction is instantaneous, but Stephen – already in a relationship – keeps their initial interactions platonic.

As time passes, the two grow closer, and their dynamic intensifies. Stephen’s girlfriend, however, remains a looming presence.

Lucy’s friends notice Stephen’s manipulative tendencies early on, but Lucy, ensnared by their intense connection, finds it difficult to see. Their relationship becomes a whirlwind of passion, deception, and heartbreak, with Stephen continuously oscillating between affection and indifference. 

This push-pull dynamic establishes an addictive cycle for Lucy, making her crave Stephen’s validation.

The college years blend profound moments of intimacy interspersed with periods of distance and coldness, primarily driven by Stephen’s behavior. Stephen’s internal monologues reveal his awareness of his manipulative actions and his justifications for them, driven by his personal insecurities and fears.

Post-College Years:

After college, Lucy and Stephen’s paths diverge, but their lives remain tumultuously intertwined. Lucy relocates to New York City, hoping to start afresh. She begins to understand the toxic nature of her relationship with Stephen and starts therapy to address her issues.

Stephen returns to California, carrying the weight of his actions and struggling with his self-worth. The distance does little to sever their connection, with both frequently reminiscing about their time together, and they inevitably cross paths again.

Lucy’s journey in New York is one of self-reflection and growth. Her struggles as a young adult, and the shadows of her relationship with Stephen, compel her to confront her insecurities and the void left by her mother’s abandonment. 

The challenges and opportunities of the city became a backdrop for Lucy’s emotional and professional evolution.

Stephen’s trajectory in California is darker, marked by substance abuse and patterns of manipulation in his relationships. His internal battles become more pronounced, and the consequences of his actions catch up with him.

Climax & Resolution:

The story climaxes when Lucy and Stephen’s paths converge once again. This reunion becomes a crucible, forcing both to confront the realities of their relationship. 

What happens next? I guess I won’t be spoiling it for you.

About Carola Lovering

Carola Lovering is an American author best known for her debut novel, “Tell Me Lies.” Before establishing herself as a novelist, Lovering held positions in both editorial and digital media roles.

Notable Aspects of Carola Lovering’s Career and Writing:

Tell Me Lies: Lovering’s first book, “Tell Me Lies,” was widely discussed for exploring young love, addiction, deception, and personal growth. The novel showcases the complexities of toxic relationships and the journey to self-awareness.

Writing Style and Themes: Lovering is known for her raw and emotionally resonant writing style. She often delves deep into the psyche of her characters, laying bare the intricacies of their thoughts, emotions, and motivations. Themes of love, deception, self-discovery, and the complexities of human relationships often find their way into her narratives.

Background and Inspiration: Lovering’s experiences, observations, and insights from her formative years and early adulthood have likely influenced her writing. While it’s unclear how much of “Tell Me Lies” is drawn from personal experiences, many authors often infuse their narratives with emotions and situations they have witnessed or felt.

Writing Style & Literary Devices Used in “Tell Me Lies”:

Alternating Perspectives:

Significance: By using alternating perspectives between Lucy and Stephen, Lovering provides a dual window into the events and emotions surrounding their relationship. 

This approach not only allows for a multi-dimensional understanding of situations but also adds layers to the narrative, making the reader question and reconsider the intentions and actions of the protagonists.

Character Insight: This style offers a raw, unfiltered view into the characters’ minds. While Lucy’s perspective offers a more emotional and vulnerable outlook, Stephen’s perspective provides a darker, more introspective look into manipulation and self-awareness.

Recurring Symbols and Metaphors:

Addiction: Throughout the novel, Lovering plays with the theme of addiction – not just in terms of substances – but also as a metaphor for Lucy’s obsessive relationship with Stephen. Their relationship becomes symbolic of the compulsive patterns people fall into, seeking validation and love.

Absence: Lucy’s mother’s absence is not just a plot point but also serves as a metaphor for the voids and emotional lacunas individuals carry within themselves, which then influence their choices and relationships.

Emotional Tone:

Raw Intensity: Lovering doesn’t shy away from exposing the raw emotional landscape of her characters. The tone throughout “Tell Me Lies” is charged with intense emotion, making the reader feel every high and low Lucy and Stephen experience. 

This rawness makes the book resonate deeply with readers who have experienced the tumult of young love and the challenges of self-growth.

Dark Undertones: While the novel has its moments of passion and tenderness, there’s a consistent undercurrent of darkness, primarily stemming from Stephen’s chapters. This mood accentuates the toxic elements of their relationship.


Steady Unraveling: Lovering masterfully sets the pace to mirror the evolution of Lucy and Stephen’s relationship. The early stages, filled with the thrill of new love and discovery, are quick and heady. 

As their relationship becomes more complicated and their personal demons come to the forefront, the pacing slows down, allowing for deeper introspection.

Climactic Moments: Lovering is adept at building tension. The pacing picks up during key confrontational or revelatory moments, making for a compelling narrative. 

Descriptive Narration:

Lovering often employs vivid descriptive passages, especially when portraying the settings, whether it’s the vibrant energy of New York or the laid-back vibes of California. It establishes a clear sense of place that often parallels the emotional state of the characters.


The dialogues in the novel are realistic and contemporary, reflecting the age and mindset of the characters. They play a crucial role in character development, often revealing hidden motivations or unspoken feelings.

In summary, Carola Lovering’s literary techniques and distinct writing style in “Tell Me Lies” provide a nuanced exploration of a tumultuous relationship. The alternating perspectives and emotional tone, combined with the chosen symbols and pacing, offer readers an immersive experience of the world of love, deception, and personal growth.
Reception & Impact of “Tell Me Lies” by Carola Lovering:

Reception & Impact of “Tell Me Lies” by Carola Lovering:

Readers’ Reception:

“Tell Me Lies” found resonance among many readers who identified with the raw emotional struggles, the tumultuous roller-coaster of young love, and the challenges of early adulthood. The story’s universality made it a relatable read for many, especially those who’ve experienced or observed similar toxic relationships in their lives or in the lives of those around them.

Some readers appreciated Lovering’s bravery in not sugar-coating the realities of a toxic relationship, portraying both the allure and the damage with equal intensity.

Critical Reception:

Critics had varied responses to Lovering’s debut novel. While many lauded her for her authentic portrayal of young love, manipulative relationships, and the path to self-discovery, others felt the narrative might veer too close to melodrama at times.

The book’s literary technique, particularly the alternating perspectives, was praised for adding depth and dimension to the story. It allows critics and readers to get a holistic view of the relationship dynamics from both sides.

Some critiques centered around wanting a deeper exploration of the characters’ backgrounds, perhaps wishing for more understanding of their motivations and actions.

Relevance in Modern Conversations:

Relationships: In an era where the dynamics of relationships are undergoing significant scrutiny and redefinition, “Tell Me Lies” emerges as a potent reminder of the emotional consequences of toxicity and manipulation. It underscores the importance of self-awareness and understanding in relationships, emphasizing that physical and emotional well-being should never be compromised.

Mental Health: Lovering’s portrayal of characters battling inner demons, insecurities, and past traumas touches upon the broader conversation about mental health. Stephen’s internal struggles and Lucy’s journey through therapy reflect the increasing emphasis on mental well-being and the importance of seeking help when needed.

Personal Growth: Lucy’s journey, in particular, is emblematic of the path many undertake in their quest for personal growth. The narrative highlights the significance of introspection, resilience, and the necessity of moving beyond past traumas to find one’s true self.


Beyond its entertainment value, the novel has sparked discussions among readers about the nature of relationships, the warning signs of manipulation, and the importance of self-worth.

The book’s themes have been conversation starters in reading groups, online forums, and book clubs, often leading to deeper personal reflections and revelations.

“Tell Me Lies” also underlines the potential dangers of getting lost in love to the point of losing oneself, emphasizing the importance of individual identity and mental fortitude

In essence, Carola Lovering’s “Tell Me Lies” garnered a range of reactions from readers and critics alike. Still, its undeniable impact lies in its timely and poignant exploration of themes that are crucial in contemporary societal dialogues. The book’s examination of relationships, mental health, and personal growth makes it a relevant and powerful read in today’s context.

Reflecting on the Resonance and Relevance of “Tell Me Lies”

Carola Lovering’s “Tell Me Lies” is more than just a novel; it functions as a mirror – reflecting the complexities of young love, the pitfalls of toxic relationships, and the arduous journey towards self-awareness and mental well-being. 

Its relatable themes, and Lovering’s compelling narrative style, have ensured that the book not only entertains but also instigates deeper introspection. The varied receptions it garnered from readers and critics testify to its potency and relevance in contemporary discussions.

As literature often does, “Tell Me Lies” transcends its pages, prompting readers to examine their own relationships, their mental health journeys, and the continuous path of personal growth. 

It stands as a testament to the power of storytelling to both captivate and educate, reminding us of the delicate balance between love, self-worth, and well-being.

If you yearn to read more thought-provoking novels, check out other reviews on our website.

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