Review: Sweet Ugly Lies (Green County, #3) by Nazarea Andrews

Series:
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

BLURB:

Gabriel Delvin is three things: a problem, a liar and irresistible. Elijah Beasley’s known that for years. He knew before they slept together, and he knew when he walked away from Gabe, unwilling to put up with more lies. The problem is he keeps going back.

Elijah Beasley is three things: a cop, a fucking problem, and Gabe’s. Gabriel Delvin’s known that for as long as he can remember. It’s why they fell into bed together, and why Gabriel stayed in Green County, when all sense said to get out.

But as the underbelly of crime in Green County comes boiling to the surface, Gabe is forced to chose between the man he’s always loved and the family he can’t help but be loyal to.

Love has never been the problem, for these two.

It just might not be enough, this time…

three-stars REVIEW
I wanted to like this one more than I actually did. I just couldn’t connect with the main characters.

I believe I would have benefited by reading this series in order because I felt like I was missing something. Gabe Delvin worked at a bakery and Officer Eli Beasley kept coming into Gabe’s store to buy baked goods for about ten years. Gabe and Eli had what appeared to be purely physical relationship because Gabe’s lies presented a road block to an emotional attachment. It took a while to figure out the lies and Gabe’s reasons for lying to Eli. But it was weird to me that a cop would continue in a ten-year relationship with someone he couldn’t trust. Also, Eli not figuring out Gabe’s motives for continually lying by omission or whatever made me think Eli was a pretty crappy officer.

It took a while for the plot to unfold and reveal what was driving each man.
By the time, we got the tea on their motives, I just wasn’t invested anymore. The author set up an opposite attracts romance but the execution and writing was just okay.

The last third of the book did show more depth to Gabe and made their flaws much more palatable but this story would have been more enjoyable if they had been developed more as well as if I was aware of their motives much earlier. The good news is that the book ends in an HEA.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32762243-sweet-ugly-lies

PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES

DIRTY SEXY SECRET (book #1):

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/25xpf0X

 

DIRTY STOLEN FOREVER (book #2):

Amazon: http://amzn.to/28WAhSJ

About Nazarea Andrews

Nazarea Andrews (N to almost everyone) is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. Which means she writes everything from zombies and dystopia to contemporary love stories. When not writing, she can most often be found driving her kids to practice and burning dinner while she reads, or binging watching TV shows on Netflix. N loves chocolate, wine, and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, spoiled cat and overgrown dog. She is the author of World Without End series, Neverland Found, Edge of the Falls, and The University of Branton Series. Stop by her twitter (@NazareaAndrews) and tell her what fantastic book she should read next.

KAGE (KAGE Trilogy #1) by Maris Black

KAGE (KAGE Trilogy #1) by Maris BlackSeries: KAGE Trilogy #1
on 2015-05-25
Pages: 306
AmazonB&NNarrator: J. F. Harding
Round 1 of the KAGE Trilogy A Gay MMA Fighter Romance My name is Jamie Atwood, and I'm an addict. I never thought I'd say such a thing. Never had a problem being overly-attached to anything in my life. I came from a perfectly middle-class family, made good grades, and had a hot cheerleader girlfriend. But the truth is, nothing ever really moved me. So how did a guy like me become an addict? I met Michael Kage. Kage is an MMA fighter. A famous one. I like to think I helped him get that way. He's charming as hell, with looks to rival any movie star and talent to back it up. So why did he need to hire me as an intern Publicist? Simple. He has a darkness in him- like a black hole so deep it could swallow him, and me, and everyone we know- and that's not good for business. The first time I met him, I felt the pull. I think the addiction began at that very moment. And even if I'd known then what I know now, I would have fallen for him. How could I not? For me, Kage is everything.
three-stars

I am torn on how I feel. The story has potential, but felt forced in certain instances.

20 year old James Atwood “Jamie” was a journalism major who got an opportunity of a lifetime. He would be marketing and public relation intern representation upcoming MMA fighter Michael Cage “Cage”. This summer job couldn’t have come at a better time as Jamie and his longtime girlfriend broke up. Jamie needed a fresh start and his Las Vegas internship was the distraction he needed to focus on his career.

Working with Cage made me sing the Jeffersons’ Theme song: “Now we up in the big leagues, it’s my turn at bat…” because Jamie was definitely out his depth. It was clear to me that Cage always intended to seduce Jamie. He would be nice, then abrupt, then sweet with physical caresses and then withhold conversation, which all worked to keep Cage discombobulated. Cage toyed with Jamie a lot until Jamie was wide open. Then Cage went in for the kill.
Then Jamie had to address his sexuality and how his family, friends and Cage’s fans would feel about. That’s when things got dicey.

My issues: It never ceases to amaze me how newbies (Jamie) are such pros at sex. (*side eye). Cage was definitely not tender in bed. Also, mentally Cage was very ‘cagey’, pun intended. He didn’t communicate well but expected Jamie to be completely transparent. It felt a tad predatory.
Jamie was very adamant about his heterosexuality but later admitted to being intrigued by gay advertisement. Also the ease which Cage turned him out made give Jamie’s claim of the being straight seem like Jamie just didn’t know what he wanted.
The build up of the dad & Cage’s pissing contest, the ex-girlfriends’ secret, the diabolical uncle, Cage’s supposed rages weren’t really realized so the audience was left hanging. This story did end on a cliff hanger and I have an idea of will happen. I plan to continue to series because it has potential. I want to see it meet those expectations.

Take (Temptation #2) by Ella Frank

Take (Temptation #2) by Ella FrankSeries: Temptation #2
on July 8th 2014
Pages: 265
Amazon
Logan Mitchell is a man who’s always been more than happy to take what he wants. It’s a philosophy that’s proven lucrative in both his business and personal life, and never was it more apparent than the night he laid eyes on Tate Morrison. After pulling out all the stops and convincing the sexy bartender to give him a try—he’s hooked.
Now, Logan finds himself in a predicament that demands more from him than a smart-ass answer and his innate ability to walk away when things get too deep.
He has a choice to make, and it’ll force him to do something he’s never done before—take a chance.

Tate Morrison knows all about taking a chance. He took the biggest one of his life the night he showed up at Logan’s apartment to explore his unexpected reaction to the man.
Ever since then, he’s thought about little else.
At first he was convinced his attraction was based solely on his body’s curiosity. But the more time he spends with the silver-tongued lawyer, the more Tate realizes that their physical chemistry is only the beginning.
He’s starting to catch a glimpse of what life with Logan would be like, and it’s one full of excitement and satisfaction—a far cry from what he had in the past with his soon to be ex-wife.

Each man will face their fears as they begin to understand the true meaning of give and take. Their feelings for one another will be tested, as will their very beliefs. But now that they’ve found love where they least expected it, will they be brave enough to reach out and take it
four-stars

Cross & Crown (Sidewinder #2) by Abigail Roux

Cross & Crown (Sidewinder #2) by Abigail RouxSeries: Sidewinde #2
on June 3rd 2014
Pages: 225 pages
Amazon
When Nick O'Flaherty arrives at the scene of a double homicide to find he has a witness to the crime, he thinks it’s his lucky day. But when he realizes his witness is suffering from amnesia and can’t even remember his own name, Nick wishes he’d gone with his gut and put in for vacation time.

Then Nick’s boyfriend and former Recon teammate, Kelly Abbott, joins him in Boston, and Nick finds his hands a little too full as the case and his personal life collide. The witness he’s dubbed “JD” is being tailed by Julian Cross, a retired CIA hitman. To complicate matters further, JD forms an attachment to Nick that Nick struggles not to respond to as they search for the key to JD’s identity.

Trying to determine whether JD is friend or foe as they investigate the crime puts them on the trail of a much older mystery. When multiple attempts are made on their lives, Nick is forced to turn to old enemies and new allies to solve a centuries-old crime before he and Kelly get added to the history books

I don’t know what to say. I am glad I waited to read this one. But I don’t give a rats ass about grown ass men chasing treasures. I don’t see the real point dangling Julian and Cameron in this book. They didn’t add any real value here. Although, I love Nick’s partner Hagan. He was enjoyable.

Nick O’Flahterty is working as a detective and waiting for his boyfriend Kelly Abbott to visit. A double homicide throws a monkey wrench in their plans because Nick has to babysit the witness who now claims amnesia. Julian Cross shows up and so it’s clear something fishy is going on. As the story unravels, Kelly becomes involved in helping Nick, John Doe the amnesiac and Julian Cross try to find the men who kidnapped Cameron (Julian’s partner) as they hold Cam for ransom.

I guess my problem was this book was mostly mystery with very little romance and that’s not what I wanted nor expected. I don’t know if this series will continue to be auto-buy for me.

The River Leith by Leta Blake

The River Leith  by Leta Blakeon May 15th 2014
Pages: 173
Amazon • (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Memory is everything.

After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.

For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach's choices may come back to haunt him.

Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.
five-stars

Wow. I loved this one. It had controversial things that made it so dramatic, emotional and so engagin. Great book!

Leith Weinz is a boxer who sustained brain trauma after an illegal hit to the back of his head during a boxing match. He woke up from a coma with partial amnesia, he can’t remember the last 3 years.
Zachariah Stevens is part of The 3 yrs Leith can’t remember. What do you do when the person who means the world to you doesn’t have a clue who you are?

This book was angsty because it hinged on the unknown. Leith doesn’t know Zach. Leith doesn’t know if and when he’ll get his memory back. Leith doesn’t know if he’ll ever box again. Zach doesn’t know if he’ll get the love of his life back. Zach doesn’t now how he can live without his partner. The doctors don’t know if Leith’s memory will return.

The uncertainty was making everyone anxious, irritable, scared and emotional. I felt like I was on eggshells too, waiting for the lightbulb to come on. What an emotional journey. I felt for Zach, Marian, Ava and Arthur. How much do you tell Leith or do you wait for it come back? What would I do if my loved one saw me as a stranger? It’s amazing at how the body retains certain memory even when the cognitive mind doesn’t. I appreciate this author tackling a difficult subject with sensitivity yet conveying the sense of helplessness the characters felt. I could see everyone’s POV and I just had to walk with them with hope and patience.

I wish I could hug everyone in this book.

Special Thanks to Romance Beckons via Netgalley for review copy.

About Leta Blake

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan

favorite Training Season, Leta Blake's educational and professional background is in psychology

and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting

romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S.,

Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

Slide (Roads #1) by Garrett Leigh

Slide (Roads #1) by Garrett LeighSeries: Roads #1
on Oct 13, 2013)
Pages: 274 pages
Amazon • (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…

Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.

Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.

Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.
four-stars

The whole time I read this book, I was waiting for the author rip the rug from under my feet. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when or how I would get that emotional jolt.
Chicago paramedic Pete needed a roommate and his friend Ellie had the perfect guy in mind. See Ellie knew a guy from when she was in rehab and Ash was a person who wouldn’t get in Pete’s way.

Ash was a tattoo artist, but he had a very troubled past. The long hours that kept Pete away from the apartment was great for Ash because he really didn’t want to talk or hang out. He just barely existed and that was all he could handle right now.
After Pete invited Ash to sleep in his room one night after Ash had a nightmare, Ash couldn’t sleep unless he was close to Pete or in Pete’s bed. Though they became lovers, Ash had great difficulty trusting and communicating, but Pete slowly drew Ash into his world. As soon as it seemed that everything was going okay for Pete and Ash, an attack on Pete opened some old wounds for Ash and then Ash began spiraling out of control again.
Pete has to decide if Ash can be saved or if it is better to let Ash go so Pete won’t get dragged down with him.

What made this had was that it was clear Ash had serious baggage, but we just didn’t know what exactly they were, so it was hard to pinpoint his triggers. But I was rooting for Ash and for Pete. I was also rooting for Ellie because I wanted her to be strong enough to fight her own battle with her parents. This story was dark but it definitely had a ray of sunshine and that is enough to keep me cheering for Ash and Pete to make it through the storm.

About Garrett Leigh

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzdesign.com

Second Chances (Second Chances #1) by by T.A. Webb

Second Chances (Second Chances #1) by  by T.A. WebbSeries: Second Chances #1
on October 17th 2012
Pages: 200 pages
AmazonNarrator: John Solo
Mark Jennings is at a crossroads. His finance job in the Atlanta nonprofit scene stresses him out, his mother is dying, and his relationship with Brian Jacobs has crashed and burned. He needs a distraction, some way to relax, and a massage seems like just the thing. He never expected his massage therapist, Antonio Roberto, to become his best friend.

Despite their differences—Antonio is a divorced single father—the two men forge a firm friendship that weathers Mark’s reconciliation with Brian and Antonio’s questionable taste in women. Over the years, Antonio remains constant in his support, though others in Mark’s life come and go through a revolving door.

When a young boy runs away from the group home where he works, Mark finds another door opening. Through it all he holds on to the things his loved ones taught him—about family, about friends and lovers, about life and death. Most importantly, he realizes that sometimes the greatest gift of all is a second chance.
four-stars

In this book, Mark Jennings seemed to be barely making it emotionally. His mom is dying in the hospital of liver disease, his boyfriend Brian Jacobs left him for another man and his nonprofit job was about to go belly up.
His only stress relief was getting a bi-monthly massage by a guy named Antonio Roberto.

During these massage therapy sessions, Mark and Antonio got to know each other. Antonio was going through a divorce with his wife and was scared to loss his son in a custody battle. Mark was dealing with the loss of his mom and the return of his boyfriend Brian.

Both were overwhelmed. Its no wonder both started feeling a little attracted to each other. But Antonio was straight and Mark would never cheat as he knows how that betrayal felt. But life has its own plans and Mark, Brian and Antonio’s lives begin to mesh and we see that despite Mark’s uncomfortable place, both guys genuinely care for him. Who will be Mark’s HEA?

This book had a roller coaster of emotion. This Mark really needed a hug. It had sad parts and happy parts. I also really liked the family angle as well as the non-profit Hope home addition to this story. It still touches me that family can discard their own children because of who they love.

The writing was paced well, but the narrator wasn’t quite right for this story. His faux southern accent grated my nerves at times, but then he’d forget he was supposed to have a southern accent and we were cool again. Over all, it was a good story. Little to no angst.

Something Like Winter (Seasons #2) by Jay Bell

Something Like Winter (Seasons #2)  by Jay BellSeries: Seasons #2
on November 2nd 2012
Pages: 386 Pages
AmazonNarrator: Kevin R. Free
There are two sides to every story. When you’re Tim Wyman, sometimes there are three.

Tim hoped moving to Texas would mean a new beginning, a chance to spread his wings, but he soon finds himself falling into the same tired patterns. Until he meets recklessly brave Benjamin Bentley. Suddenly a whole new world opens up to Tim—love, sex, warmth… home. Certain that society won’t understand what he and Ben have together, Tim struggles to protect their relationship, even if it means twisting the truth. As his lies slowly push Ben away, Tim learns that the greatest enemy can come from within. Buried beneath a decade of deceptions, Tim must claw his way to the surface in the hopes of learning to fly.

Something Like Winter, the companion novel to Something Like Summer , tells the story from Tim Wyman’s perspective, revealing new private moments and personal journeys.
four-stars

Please read my review of Book 1: Something Like Summer for a background. This book was Tim’s POV on his relationship with Eric. It gave insight to how Tim met Eric and the years after Tim broke up with Ben. Tim was still self centered but one thing was clear, he loves Ben. He made some poor choices but he grew especially Jace showed him how a real man does it.

Tim and his family’s opinion of gays really affected how Tim felt about himself. He grew in a Catholic family, and they were also sports jocks. Loving another man would not fly in that kind of circle and so Tim tried his best to be what others wanted him to be. The consequence was that he hurt the guy he loved Ben and he hurt himself. He wouldn’t completely let go, but he wouldn’t give up either. Tim was just a mess for a long time. I felt him though. I understood his need to avoid being shunned by family and friends. Ben was lucky because his family accepted his choices but it isn’t that easy for others. Tim’s battle was much harder.

Jay Bells writing is really smooth to me. It was emotional and the characters had depth. I can’t wait to read about Jace before Ben in book 3.

The Island by Lisa Henry

The Island by Lisa Henryon January 9, 2012
Pages: 331 pages
Amazon
Shaw is in Fiji to sell a stolen painting to the crime boss, Vornis. It will be the deal of a lifetime, if Shaw can pull it off. But then Vornis has to parade his latest toy around in front of him--a captured DEA agent whose time is running out. It's none of Shaw's business, and it doesn't matter that under any other circumstances Lee would be exactly Shaw's type: he's young, he's hot, and he might even have a personality if they hadn't beaten it out of him. Too bad there's no way Lee is getting off the island. Too bad there's nothing Shaw can do for him. And too bad there are some lines that even Shaw won't cross.

Keeping his hands off Lee proves harder than he thinks, but Shaw's not stupid enough to fall for the tortured captive of a dangerous crime boss, is he? If he did, it wouldn't be just his job he would be risking--it would be his life.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices, violence, flashback to sexual violence.

Publisher's warning: Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing.
four-stars

This book is not for those who have triggers related to sexual abuse and torture. I found it a little painful to read. It involved non-consensual sex and torture. I wouldn’t have read it had I know but I actually enjoyed it.

Adam Shaw was a fencer for many things, stolen paintings, weapons, drugs etc. He was the middle man who discretely helped people with the right funds find whatever they were wanted. Of course Shaw’s help would require a finder’s fee, but he was one of the best.

Shaw came to Fiji to sell a stolen painting to Vornis, a rich criminal, who was currently staying on the island. But it was immediately clear Vornis was after something else. Vornis wanted Shaw and figured he would tempt Shaw by showing Vornis’ sexual prowess.
Vornis was a sexual sadist, who had sex slaves, and his recent boy toy was an undercover DEA agent named Lee Anderson. For reasons unknown to him, Shaw was attracted to Lee, but he was aware that Vornis was using the boy toy to gauge what kind of man Shaw is. One thing is for sure, Vornis wants them both and he usually disposes of his toys 6 feet under. Can Shaw save himself before Vornis gets to him, what about Lee?

It’s so disturbing to think of predators like Vornis using an island paradise as his own hell on earth headquarters. He was sick and evil. I felt bad for the position Shaw was in, but I was happy that he felt Lee was worth it. I loved their chemistry and how tender Shaw was with Lee. The writing was gripping and I just had a hard time putting this story down. I wanted to know more about Irina and her past. I also want to know who betrayed the crew Lee came with. I like this one better than When all the Worlds sleeps, but this subject matter was disturbing.

Aaron (Survivor Stories #1) by J. P. Barnaby

Aaron (Survivor Stories #1) by J. P. BarnabySeries: Survivor Stories #1
on October 8th, 2012
Pages: 238 pages
AmazonNarrator: Tyler Stevens
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.

With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?

Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control
four-stars

This was an emotional book, with many little steps in recovery.

Aaron Downing was brutally attacked while he walked home with his beset friend Juliette. His bestie was killed and while the monsters tried to kill him, he survived. But they weren’t caught, so Aaron lived in perpetual fear for his life. His nightmares and trauma affected his parents and 2 brothers who looked up to him their whole lives. Aaron had a long scar scar on his face, some on his body and a lot on the inside.

Aaron struggled to make it through each day until his college professor assigned him a deaf partner for a project. Spencer Thomas was treated as freak because he was deaf, so working with Aaron gave him someone who was similar to himself. Spencer’s mother had been mugged and Spencer was delivered 3 months too early. He survived but its a cruel world as he learns to live without his mom and his alcoholic, yet brillant father.

As Spencer and Aaron work on their project together, they formed a friendship. In the meantime, Spencer’s father, who is a doctor specializing in trauma, begins to treat Aaron for his anxiety. It was step by step, but slowly Aaron gets to the point where Spencer can touch him. This revelation leads to the acknowledgement that what Aaron and Spencer feel for each other is more than friendship.

What a sad, yet hopeful story. Aaron really worked and Spencer was so persistent in being there for him. They saved each other. I am glad love helped these two lovebirds heal some of their past hurts. Aaron to Spencer “I never thought I would find someone to look past the scars. I want to try if you do”. How can you not feel that? I read that like 5 times.

But the real heroes here were family, they hung on strong and gave these two a safe place to grow their wings and fly.

About J.P. Barnaby

JP Barnaby, an award-winning gay romance novelist, is the author of over two dozen books, including Aaron and the Little Boy Lost Series. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance, but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not hanging out with hot guys in leather, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix. A physics geek, she likes the science side of Sci-Fi, and wants to grow up to be Reed Richards.