Dirty Sexy Secret is the first book in the new Green County series from Nazarea Andrews. I have really enjoyed her books in the past, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one with that sexy cover. While there were things that I liked here, this book was completely different from what I have read from her in the past. It wasn't as polished as her past books have been, and I found myself struggling to get through this book on more than one occasion.
After a tragic accident leaves a small town reeling, Hazel Campton and Brandon Archer are taken in by a woman who helps them form a new family. Hazel, Archer, and the foster brother Elijah become close, but while they feel like Elijah is their brother, they both find themselves drawn to each other in a way that is far from brother and sister. One night things change between them forever, but Hazel runs leaving the guys and their small town behind. But when she returns four years later everything has changed but how she feels about Archer. Now an investigative reporter Hazel finds herself digging into something that her town has kept secret for years and sets out to find the truth while Elijah and Archer (now cops) investigate another incident in town. But when everything appears to be connected, the three of them realize that they are in far more danger than they ever suspected.
I liked all the characters here, but I never felt as though I really knew most of them or was able to connect with them. I can tell you how they all related to one another and how close they were. But I really don't feel as though I could give you many specifics when it came to their personalities. I loved what a tight unit they were though, proving that you can be a family without being related by blood. You could tell that things had always been different between Hazel and Archer than they were with Elijah though, and their connection was very strong. I do think that as strong as their connection was though and as much as they knew about one another, that they had some communication issues. There seemed to be a lot that should have been discussed between them that they never talked about, both in the past and present. I also felt like while they had chemistry and were clearly attracted to one another, that there was so much going on here we didn't really get to see them fully explore things between them. The romance felt to be sort of an afterthought rather than the focus, with Hazel and Archer taking a backseat to everything else going on around them.
My biggest complaints though are things that kept me from loving this book, but are also things that could have been fixed before publication. Since I had an advanced copy, I am not sure what the final version of this story looks like. But this version was filled with errors. While you expect that spelling and minor issues will be fixed, there were so many name inconsistencies here that it was often times hard to keep everything straight. (main characters, not secondary characters) We were given several POVs, and they would often times switch not only at the start of a new chapter but in the middle of chapters. There were no labels or any indication of which POV we were getting and it was very confusing. There were many times I thought it was one character's POV only to get a few paragraphs in and discover that I was completely wrong and it was someone else's. There were several times that Hazel referred to Archer as her best friend, while several times she referred to Gabe as her best friend rather than using either of their names. It was hard at times to figure out who she was talking about. The thoughts and dialogue got to be very repetitive at times, with things constantly being rehashed. The other thing that really bothered me and had me wanting to DNF almost before I even got started was the fact that at the beginning of the story so many characters were present and referred to as though we should know who they were. It felt like we were being dropped into the middle of a story already in progress. It was hard to get into because I felt like I was missing so much information already.
While I do like how things turned out and the fact that this one had some twists and turns I didn't expect, I will admit that I almost gave up on it several times. I think ultimately it was worth the read, but it just had so many issues that it kept me from really loving it despite how much potential was there. Like I said before though, some or all of these things might have been fixed before the final published version. But for me, this one was confusing and a mess to get through. I am looking forward to Gabe's brother Aiden getting his story in Dirty Stolen Forever. We didn't get to see much of him here, but what I did see made me want more. While I really like Nazarea's books, I will admit that this one wasn't my favorite. It was still good though, and I think it is worth the read even with the criticisms I had.
**ARC Provided by Inkslinger PR**