Darien author crafts twisty suspense in sophomore novel ‘Too Good To Be True’

There’s something about toxic relationships that inspires Darien author Carola Lovering to create captivating and multilayered characters.

“I am weirdly fascinated by toxic relationships probably because so many women, so many friends of mine and myself included have experienced one at some point,” Lovering said. “I’m very intrigued by manipulation and I find it really fun to write about. For me, the subject of manipulation also lends itself to creativity and writing unreliable narrators.”

Lovering’s first novel “Tell Me Lies” told the suspenseful on again off again tale of a relationship between two people who are completely wrong for each other but neither one is really willing to let go. In her latest novel, “Too Good To Be True,” which will be published on March 2 by St. Martin’s Press, Lovering cranks up the suspense and even throws in a toxic love triangle in the psychological thriller as the novel shifts between the perspectives of Skye, Burke and Heather. The book also takes place in various settings around New York and Connecticut, including New Haven and Westport.

“There’s Skye, whose a 29-year-old book editor living in New York, she suffers from crippling OCD which as a result has made her love life pretty unsuccessful and she is head over heels, when she meets Burke. He’s an older man (and) they have a whirlwind romance, get engaged after six months, she’s deliriously happy,” the author said. Without giving away any spoilers about the story, Lovering added that “in Burke’s perspective you learn that he’s already married and lying to Skye and using her and the third perspective is his wife Heather. Through her perspective the reader learns a little bit about the backstory of Heather and Burke and that’s set 30 years in the past and about how they got together as teenagers and that narrative leads up to the present. Through those three different narratives of Skye, Burke and Heather it all twists together into a twisty, suspenseful, unexpected love story.”

When writing her book Lovering said that she wanted to write something different from her first novel “Tell Me Lies,” and decided to lean into the suspenseful elements she had flirted with in her debut and play them up in “Too Good To Be True.” She also credited the plot twist from “Gone Girl” and how it “stuck” with her as the inspiration behind her latest book.

“I knew I wanted there to be a really shocking twist in ‘Too Good to Be True’ - not the same twist at all - but just something with that same shock factor and I was really inspired by that when I started plotting.”

Lovering said she spent roughly two years working on “Too Good To Be True” and that she was planning her own wedding while drafting the novel, which inspired her character Skye who is also planning her own happy nuptials in the book. The author said she has self diagnosed herself with OCD, “I have to touch the clock at 11:11 or 4:44 and it drives my husband crazy but I just have to do it,” she said. Her own struggles inspired her to write Skye as someone who faces crippling OCD because she wondered “what it would be like to live life with OCD that’s really amplified.”

When asked what she hopes readers will take away from her new book, Lovering said that she wants people to remember that “love isn’t always black and white, there are often shades of gray and that the truth looks different depending on whose perspective you’re seeing it through.”

In addition to releasing her new novel, “Tell Me Lies” is currently being optioned for a Hulu adaptation. Lovering said she’s “excited about the possibility of it becoming a show,” but that she can’t say much more as she’s waiting to hear if the project will be moving ahead or not. Lovering added that she’s currently “chipping away” at her third book while balancing out her days as an author and a new mom. She had her baby in August and said that while the COVID-19 pandemic had made it tricky to figure out childcare, she finds it easier to juggle virtual book events and motherhood instead of going out on the road to promote her book.

On March 2 Lovering will celebrate the release of “Too Good To Be True” with a virtual author talk at Barrett Bookstore in Darien with “Pretty Little Liars” author Sara Shepard at 7 p.m.

For more information about the author talk, visit barrettbookstore.com. For more information about Lovering and her books, visit carolalovering.com.