Being MeBeing Me by Lisa Renee Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Initial reaction: Interesting in turns but also utterly frustrating in others. Thankfully the cliffhanger in this novel isn’t as cruel as the first, but there are just as many questions left unanswered as there were answers provided in this second novel to the “Inside Out” series. Nonetheless, I think I’m on board to read the third installment. I liked parts of this story, but others left me a bit by the wayside.

Full review:

I’ve never been more conflicted over my sentiments regarding an erotica series (with the exception of Tiffany Reisz’s “Original Sinners”) than with Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out Trilogy. “Being Me” was much more even-toned in writing and presentation than “If I Were You”. It actually provided *answers* where the first book had an odd balance between the mystery of what happened to Rebecca, whether Sara’s in trouble, and who has the lead in the power struggle between her, Mark, and Chris.

I’ll say straightaway that despite the issues I had, I liked this book. There were parts of it that didn’t sit well with me, but I liked it probably on the same level as the first but for different reasons. Sara’s an apt narrator and interesting leading character to follow. I saw her motivations and struggles very well throughout the entire novel. Her relationship with Chris was at times steamy, and also a struggle considering the issues that both of them had, both with the case of Rebecca and with Chris’s personal issues and inability to cope with pain. I did want to rage at Chris many times in the narrative for how he acts and how he regresses to familiar habits in times of trauma, but ultimately, I understood how he cared for Sara despite his flaws. Sara can be just as flawed as he is in spurts, but I understood where the two of them were mentally in places and the back and forth between their relationship.

Mark continued to be that domineering, powerful, yet mysterious presence that he was in the previous novel, and there’s still a lot of tension between him and Sara considering the whereabouts/fate of Rebecca. I won’t spoil his role in the overarching mystery, but despite a rather uneven presentation of events, I followed the narrative well enough as it worked towards the conclusion. My issue was that the mystery’s resolution felt so quick in how it wrapped up towards the end, which short changed the building of that mystery/tension up until that point. I think it could’ve been vetted much better than it was for the progression it worked toward. It was so much that I had to do a double take and say “Really? That’s what happened?” It was plausible, and it wasn’t that I expected it, but I did feel like it was uneven compared to the care taken to the relationships and character vetting in the rest of the novel.

Minor cliffhanger at the end, not as jarring or cruel as the first book’s turn, but it has me curious to see where these characters go in the final book, and I’ll admit I’m intrigued enough to finish this out.

Overall score: 3/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Gallery Books.

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