J.T. Ellison’s ‘Good Girls Lie’ [EXCERPT]

Girl

Secrets, lies, and murder abound in J.T. Ellison’s Good Girls Lie. (Photo courtesy Canva)

J.T. Ellison has long been one of our favorite writers. From her nail biting stand alone thrillers to her high octane collaborations with the one and only Catherine Coulter, she never fails to entertain. Now, in her upcoming novel, Good Girls Lie, she ups the ante and petrifies us with a coming-of-age thriller that blurs lines and makes us question everything. We hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt from the forthcoming novel.  —J&H


EXCERPT

August

Marchburg, Virginia

3

THE SCHOOL

 

“It’s hard to imagine a prettier place, isn’t it?”

The driver, who has been trying to engage me in conversation for fifty miles now, isn’t wrong. The farther west we drive into Virginia, the more beautiful the scenery becomes. Wineries, horse farms, stone walls, and charming cottages dot the landscape. The ridge of mountains ahead looks like an ancient dragon curled up and went to sleep and the trees grew over its skeleton. I can see each bump of its spine, the ribs curving gently in the air, moss growing over the sharp tips, and the roots of the trees sprouting from its heart inside. It is a far cry from the noise and dirt of the DC airport, and even further from the world I’ve left behind. Good riddance.

“Mmm-hmm. Pretty.”

The car turns south, moving along the Blue Ridge, down I-81, and the scenery is breathtaking. I glance at the map stowed in my purse, a detailed topographical imaging of the area surrounding Goode, which is situated near Wintergreen. Another hour to go, at least.

“Where’d you say you were from?”

I drag my attention back to the driver. He’s decent looking, dark hair and skin tanned from a summer outdoors, hazel eyes. He’d said his name when he opened the door for me, Rudy or Ruly, something like that—I didn’t pay attention, why should I? He’s just the driver, a stranger I’m sharing a fleeting moment with. I’ll never see him again after today. Don’t get into the car with strangers, we’re taught. Don’t talk to strangers online. Stranger danger. Now, it’s as much a part of life as breathing.

And who’s to say I’m not the stranger to be worried about?

“I didn’t. England.”

“Thought so, from your accent. Ever met the Queen?”

Hardly. We don’t exactly run in the same circles.

But I’m embarking on a new life. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of embellishment.

“We go to the same church in the countryside. Have you ever heard of Sandringham? There’s a beautiful little stone church there, with a graveyard that dates back to the 1300s. They— the Queen and her husband, I mean—spend much of their time in the country, especially now they’ve been handing over duties to the younger members of the royal family. We saw them only last week.”

“I know exactly where you’re talking about. That’s the place they filmed part of Game of Thrones, didn’t they?”

“The very one.”

The best lies are based in fact. The stone church at Sandringham exists. It’s called St. Mary Magdalene, and it’s a bit more than a stone cottage, but I have no idea what it’s really like. I’ve never been there. I’ve never met the Queen. I have exactly zero idea where Game of Thrones was filmed, but I assume it wasn’t on the royal estate.

The driver has no knowledge of what I’m talking about but doesn’t want to seem stupid, so he is more than happy to pretend. He grins at me in the rearview, and I smile in turn. We’re connected now, over this lie. We both know it. Accept it. These are the social niceties of a modern civilization.

I resume my outdoor viewing, pretending I didn’t enjoy the tiny frisson of excitement I got from the dopamine rush of telling a lie.

Why did I do it? I swore to myself I wasn’t going to lie anymore. All part of turning over a new leaf, as my mum would say.

And I have no business lying to this stranger, one who knows where I’ll be for the next few years.

But it is so easy. And what will it harm? He’s practically a child himself.

I’ve never understood my compulsive desire to lie. I’ve read so many articles I’ve become my own sociology experiment. Everyone lies. To themselves, to each other. It’s a way to belong, to be included. To look important.

In the past, it was much, much easier to get away with these transactional lies. Purveyors of falsehoods were con men, flimflam artists. Now, everyone is a grifter. With the advent of social media, allowing the masses to peer in through the open windows and doors to your home, to your mind, your body, your soul, the only way to lie properly is to curate your life for the masses to behold, carefully, carefully. Stage. Filter. Design. My very existence is so much better than yours. Hurrah!

I have no accessible online accounts. I don’t tweet or book or gram or snap or tok. I’ve never been interested in living out loud, and now, it’s working in my favor. It’s much, much too dangerous for me to have a past. I’m forward-looking, marching ahead. My life, my new life, waits for me on top of the mountain, in a town appropriately called Marchburg. The Goode School doesn’t allow the students to have mobile phones. There’s a solid chance I can get away without the accounts for the next few years. There’s luck, already going my way.

In the modern age, with the ubiquitous connections available, not allowing personal mobile phones on campus is believed to be an archaic approach to education. I’ve seen the reviews, the message boards; the students hate it, hate leaving behind their screens. Even some of the mothers and fathers think this is a ridiculous rule, too, often sneaking one into the luggage for a midnight texting session with their little darlings.

We top another rise and finally, I can see the city of Marchburg ahead. It looks like an Italian hill town, accessible only through winding switchbacks, a fortress behind a redbrick wall. Lies have kept me safe, kept me protected, my whole life. But here, in this new place, in this new world, I don’t need them anymore. I will be safe on the mountain. Protected.

“Starting over is always hard,” Mum told me, “but you can do it. Go far, far away from here, daughter mine. Reinvent yourself.”

This is exactly what I intend to do.

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JT Ellison's GOOD GIRLS LIE

Mira

ABOUT GOOD GIRLS LIE

Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison
(Photo by Krista Lee Photography)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series “A Brit in the FBI” with number one New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

Co-host of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband. She invites readers to visit her at her home on the Web at JTEllison.com for more insight into her wicked imagination, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

GOOD GIRLS LIE
By J.T. Ellison
464 pp. Mira. $27.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPre-order Good Girls Lie from one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Harlequin, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

Good Girls Lie is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to J.T. Ellison’s ‘Good Girls Lie’ [EXCERPT]

  1. Sara Strand says:

    Thank you for featuring this! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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