Read my reviews of the previous books in the Two Truths and a Lie series:

Disclaimer: I received an electronic ARC of this novel from the author.

Though I enjoy both plot- and character-driven fiction, one of my favorite elements of storytelling, no matter the genre, is that every character is the hero of their own story. I also love a good redemption arc, which is a lot easier to pull off realistically in contemporary romance than speculative fiction for a villain in a previous series installment—especially a character as close to the previous heroes as a heartbreak and an older brother.

So, Rhys’ story is not going to work for everyone. Hawthorne doesn’t waste a lot of time on the background of why Rhys finally decides to break away from his father; instead, readers should take it as a given that the events of previous books have ultimately been the tipping point in his life. That certainly doesn’t erase all sins, and it’s obvious from this book’s opening that Rhys still has a lot of work to do (and it’s not all the fault of a certain copper sink). Luckily, Remington has been a good influence on Sebastian, and Sebastian is not willing to give up on his older brother. This continued connection leads Rhys on a collision course with Beckett, who is pretty much his polar opposite. This book is not an “opposites attract” story, however. I thoroughly enjoyed the push and pull of both men forcing each other to meet in the middle of their dating and relationship comfort zones.

My major quibble about this book is that we never actually see Rhys’ point of view when it comes to when he notices Beckett and decides to pursue him. That pursual is obvious from Beckett’s perspective, as the initial events that bring them together all happen during his point of view chapters. The chemistry is there once they get closer, but I wish I’d had more of that context to ease the romantic arc away from the “insta-love” it otherwise smacks of.

I loved that the external plot coincides with the final extradition of Rhys from the St. George legacy. I also appreciated that elements of it included giving Rhys and Callahan the same goals. This story doesn’t end with the two of them forgiving all and becoming besties—instead, their “reconciliation” is much more realistic. Along those same lines, Beckett’s own redemption arc doesn’t get tied in a pretty bow either. Hawthorne excels in crafting real characters in real scenarios and packing their stories with real emotion. Her books are not always easy reads, but they are always worth it.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.