Blog Tour ~ When I Lied by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

When Kate created her sexy online persona, “Lexi,” she never expected the lies to spin so far out of control. But now one of the biggest rock stars in the world, the brilliant but damaged Oliver Walt, is in love with her, and revealing the truth means not only breaking her own heart but sending the musician into a tailspin from which he might never recover.
Lexi is just the sort of
girl a dark and brooding rockstar like Oliver Walt would fall for. Beautiful.
Wild. Fun. The only problem?
Bookish Kate Green knew she needed to brush up on her social skills before her first year of college, so she created an online persona to chat and flirt. And who better to practice on than talented and tormented rock frontman Oliver Walt? After all, the lead singer of her favorite band would hardly notice one more adoring fan. Except…he does. And with a single private message, Kate’s world changes forever.
Then Oliver wants to meet in person. Kate knows she has to come clean, but things are never that easy, so instead she enlists the aid of her beautiful and calculating study partner…which turns out just the way you might expect.  Now, with Gretchen refusing to stop being Lexi, the lies grow bigger by the hour—and so do the stakes. Kate’s heart
and Oliver’s life.
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I had the distinct pleasure of reading When I Lied as it was being written. Being witness to the process of fleshing out the facets of Oliver and Kate and their relationship was a thing to behold. Seeing the havoc that can be reeked by a seemingly innocuous lie was equally fascinating and devastating. Feeling the pain and hope that Michelle poured into every word of this novel was humbling.

When I Lied is an accidental Catfish in reverse. The plain girl, looking to step outside of her comfort zone of books and school, decides to take on a party girl persona with which to interact with the digital world. The famous boy is just interacting with his fans, trying to find a connection to fill the emptiness of his life. When the two connected they never thought they’d actually meet. When they met they never knew how the carefully constructed lies and walls they’d constructed would converge and ruin everything.

Oliver Walt was such an amazing character. He was more flawed than perfect, more sad than happy, and more intense than anyone could imagine. He was a walking chasm of pain and loneliness. He kept a carefully orchestrated public persona in place to protect his delicate psyche from more damage; while letting bits of the pain into the lyrics his adoring fans relished. It was obvious he was waiting for someone to see the distress he disguised so masterfully. There were several times, throughout the book, my heart physically ached for his. I needed him to see he was more than the person he thought he was, and deserved so much more than the superficial connections he was indulging in.

Kate Green was very interesting. So smart, yet still so naïve. Kate was a far more transparent character than Oliver, likely a result of being the narrator. She was definitely a girl just learning how she fit into the world. Trying to find a foothold and keep it, while looking for the next safe spot to move. She often showed her intelligence in the way she built her cover stories and did her investigating. More often she showed how scared and innocent she was, trusting in the wrong person and hoping they’d stand by their commitments. I loved innocent little Kate and just wanted her to figure out a way to get everything she wanted.

The villain of the story was the epitome of a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. On the outside, she was the perfect, pretty, smart college girl everyone hopes to be or know. Right beneath that shiny veneer was something so dark and evil it poisoned everything. She never went to a place that was unbelievable, though. She was the bully we all fear. The evil that we’ve all crossed in some way. No matter who you are you’ll know who this person is in your life.

When I Lied was a roller coaster for me. The highs were so high I felt my heart might take flight, right out of my chest; the lows made me feel as if there were a literal hole in my chest. The dichotomy of Kate and Oliver are what really sold this for me. Kate was the light and only saw the light. Even when things were bleak and she’d seemingly lost hope it was only momentarily. She found a pinprick of hope and reached for it. Oliver, on the other hand, was constantly wallowing in the dark. As he was basking in the brightness of Kate’s optimism he still found a shadow to explore. The push and pull of the two made me need them to find a way to exist in both shadow and light. I firmly believe that you can’t have one without the other and When I Lied was a wonderful depiction of my belief. Too much light and you get burned, too much darkness and you wither away.

5 feathers

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“Oliver, I don’t know if it’s my place to say anything…” I stammered a little as I tried to find the right words.
“It’s okay, Kate. You can say anything to me. What is it? What’s bothering you?” He tilted his head like he always did. It melted me each time he did it.
“Oliver, just know that you have blessed my heart and my soul with who you are and the words you bring to life. Be careful not to cut your time short inspiring the world with your genius, too.” I didn’t know what else to say and worried I’d said too much. Tears pricked behind my eyes, still being held back from earlier in the evening.
“Kate! Why are you crying?” Oliver’s other hand lifted to my other cheek and he held my face close to his.
“Oliver, there’s something I have to tell you.” Tears streamed from the corners of my eyes. The time had come. It needed to be done. It would break him but hopefully he could heal knowing I’d voluntarily set him free from the lie I’d created.
The limo’s horn blared and we both jumped. I sucked in a deep breath and wiped my face. Oliver’s hands gripped my bare arms.
“Come ON! Say good night already!” Gretchen’s voice had become like nails on a chalkboard and I’d have gotten great pleasure in ripping her throat wide open so I’d never have to hear it again.
“Lexi, you’re being rude. Please give us a moment.” Oliver actually rolled his eyes then turned back to me. I knew I didn’t have enough time to unleash the backstory of my lie before Gretchen would catapult herself from the limo and drag Oliver back inside.
Abort mission.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry, Oliver. I get weepy when I drink too much. It’s nothing. Go ahead. I don’t want you to have to deal with Lexi being pissed off for the rest of your evening.”
“You sure you’re okay?” He placed his hands on my bare neck and goose bumps rose across every square inch of me.
“Promise, I’m fine. Champagne makes me really intense.” I winked and turned and slid my ID through the security lock. The door clicked and I pulled it open. I wanted him to walk inside with me and not leave until morning.
“Sweet dreams, sweet Kate.”

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Michelle Kemper Brownlow likes her music loud and prefers live
concerts but will happily settle for the eclectic playlists on her iPhone. This
Penn State grad and former high school art teacher is easily distracted by
colorful art supplies and Eddie Vedder’s voice. When she’s not in her studio
writing, she can be found putting off housework for a good romance novel that
has her heart pounding and tears flowing. She is married to her college
sweetheart and is mom to three fantastic humans, a black lab, a tabby cat and a
Chinchilla named Wodney. 
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