Book Review: "False Pretenses" by Kathy Herman

Summary from Zoe Broussard stands in the shade of the live oak on Main Street and surveys her beloved Louisiana hometown. Wrought-iron galleries overhang the sidewalk lined with brightly colored shops, and the smell of coffee wafts from the brasserie she and her husband Pierce own, to which folks drive all the way from Lafayette for lunch or dinner. It seems like heaven.

But it’s about to become hell. A series of threatening, anonymous notes is making her life a misery—because Zoe has a secret so terrible it could leave the business in shambles and tear her marriage apart. Terrified by a stranger who seems to know her, Zoe must confront her past before it confronts her. Can she find the courage to do the right thing?

After a recent trip to Louisiana, I've been a bit obsessed with all things from that state. Therefore I was quite excited that this book was set there and included all sorts of culture from the area. I was quite geeked that I had actually visited one of the cities mentioned in the book as well. This is my first foray into Herman's books and I was looking forward to a good suspense read.

The story alternates between two women, Vanessa whose family has just inherited a plantation house and Zoe, who runs a Cajun restaurant with her husband. Both women have bright hopes for the future but things are soon thwarted as an unseen visitor keeps trespassing at the house and Zoe receives notes threatening to tell a secret about her past. Plus a lynching has also occurred stirring up tension and feelings of unease amid the otherwise quiet town. Throughout the book we see why it's a good idea to not go into a marriage lying to your spouse.

While the story for the most part was interesting, I felt that Zoe's secret was revealed far too soon and wasn't as big as I thought it would be. From the summary, it makes it sound like she had a huge secret but when it's finally revealed, my first thought was "oh is that all?" I also found the book a little too Christian-y for my tastes. While more power to them, the constant talk about verses and conversion was rather repetitive and coming on too strong at times. It seemed to overwhelm the suspense part of the story. There were also two minor pet peeves that bugged me a little. One was how Adele kept saying "hon" all the time. I realize that people from the south do this but it's just a term of endearment that annoys me. The other was how during a certain scene, people seemed to be very trusting immediately. I just felt that the situation was a potential dangerous one with unknown outcomes and the characters just gave in very quickly.

If you haven't read any of Herman's books before, I feel that this is a good introduction. The suspense is quite good and I didn't know what was going to happen. I really enjoyed the Louisiana setting and learning more about the culture. There were some bits I had problems with but most of those are due to my personal preference. I'm not sure if I want to return to this series but I do think I will check out other books by the author.

False Pretenses by Kathy Herman is published by David C. Cook (2011)

This review copy was provided by a publicist


  1. Thanks for the review. My book club is scheduled to read this in October. While I have read and enjoyed most of Herman's books, the "preachiness" can be too much at times.


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