Third installment in the Skins series by Garret Leigh and Simone tells us her thoughts in a beautiful and sincere review. Well done friend and well done author!

Believe (Skins #3)Believe by Garrett Leigh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***4 - 4.5 Stars***
"You can't expect the world to accept you if you don't accept yourself."
Bildergebnis für believe quote

Because in the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take...

Do you know that feeling? When you realize you are only riding shotgun in your own life. That what you thought made you happy is just an illusion. That you want more. That something's got to give.

Rhys Foster, air paramedic by day and party boy by night, a guy who would never say no to a quickie with some random stranger in his favorite gay sex club Lovato's, suddenly finds himself feeling discontent. Restless. Lonely. Everyone around him is in a loving relationship and all of a sudden he yearns for the same. Someone special. But growing up with a violent and abusive father who trampled all over his self-esteem and his own non-existing shyness when it comes to sexual experience - to put it mildly - makes him feel unworthy and no one in his right mind would want a relationship with him, right? With someone who is broken in some way.

Jevon Campbell, is the yin to Rhys's yang by all accounts and absolutely convinced that everyone deserves happiness in life.
Laughter did change the world, if only for a moment.

Play therapist with heart and soul, out to make sick and sad kids smile, he recently came to the realization that he identifies himself more as gay than bisexual. But his Jamaican heritage doesn't make it easy for him to come out of the closet and his job that takes him for months out of the country into refugee camps all over the world, makes it even worse to act on it. And let's be honest, which sexually active man would want someone so inexperienced like him, right? Someone who has not enough to offer to make it work, who is boring and inadequate.

But what if there is suddenly the one person, someone you meet in a bar, someone whose smile somehow promises the world, someone who could be just this one special guy you've been looking for? Rhys and Jevon feel an insta-attraction towards each other and even if they are different as they come on the surface, with both guys not feeling comfortable in their own skin, they soon discover that they have more in common than they thought. Yep, if fate didn't have a finger in the pie, I don't know who else. But fate can also be a twisted little minx sometimes and there never seems to be enough time before they get torn apart again.

Rhys traced lacy patterns on the back of Jevon's hand. He wanted to ask more, but at the same time, the thought of Jevon leaving the country in just eight weeks time made him feel sick. This was why he didn't do relationships. Because life always got in the way and fucked everything up, and he had no idea what to do with the ever-growing, bone-deep affection he felt every time Jevon crossed his mind. Every time they touched.
I can't do this.
But I need him.

As much as Jevon tries to convince Rhys that he deserves to be happy, it's up to Rhys and Rhys alone to open up, believe in himself and chase his dreams. When fate intervenes once again, it could be too late for both of them, though...

Anyone who has read my reviews for the previous books in this series already knows about my fangirling about Rhys, Harry's brother, and my whining to finally get my grabby hands on his story. And my whining was totally justified. I did end up highlighting half of the book as I already suspected at the beginning of the book. Garrett Leigh definitely has a way with words that is just beautiful and she conveys and evokes emotions like no other. And by doing that, she is one of just a few in a very small exquisite circle who makes be believe in insta-love. Rhys and Jevon were totally adorbs together, there were sweet moments that just melted my heart, their chemistry virtually oozed from the pages and made me totally believe that they were both meant to be together.

Another aspect why I loved this story was the realness woven into it. The realness of terror attacks - the one in London that took place almost a year to the day, the war in Syria, refugee camps and immigration detention centers which found their way into our own reality by now. I loved how Garret Leigh dealt with the fallout of it all without sugarcoating anything. It gave me goosebumps reading about the children of war who probably suffer the most of all, but I was happy to learn that people like Jevon do exist who try to make life for them a bit easier, although it is just a drop in the ocean.

Of course we meet the other characters from the previous books again, like Harry and his lover Joe from Whisper and Angelo and Dylan from Dream, but we also got another glimpse into the life of the Urban Soul guys and into Marc's from Soul to Keep. I just love it that the author writes her stories in one big universe, so we are able to revisit some of the guys from time to time to see how they are doing.

So why not 5 stars? You remember that I only highlighted half of the book? The other half were the sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, they were hot - not always explicit, but hot nonetheless -, but for me there was a bit... too much. *gasp* I never thought I would say this one day about a book by this author. Granted, on the one hand it made sense, with regard to Rhys's very active sexual past and Jevon's need of exploring his own sexuality given his lack of experience, but for me it centered a bit too much on it, therefore the first half was a tad slow for me.

Another small niggle was that I missed a bit of more heartbreak due to Rhys's painful abusive childhood. I completely understand that this is not something you want to advertise with just everyone or peddle around and I get that he was a bit cagey and withdrawn about it, but I wish he would have opened up more about it towards Jevon. The way it was dealt with here, felt a bit brushed off, waved aside, dismissed. This is just a personal preference for the sake of satisfying my inner angst-junkie, but I wanted a bit more here.

Whisper remains my 'favorite story' in this series, but Jevon and Rhys stole my heart and they definitely earned the title of 'favorite couple'. Highly recommended!

***ARC generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!***
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