Title: The Lies That Define Us
Author: Micalea Smeltzer
Series: Us Series #2 (Standalone)
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Ariella Geller is on the run from some very bad people and Liam Wade doesn’t know what he’s running from.
Freedom has been an elusive dream for Ari, but when her chance for escape comes, she takes it. She finds herself in California and forced to accept help from strangers in order to stay off the streets and avoid being found by those she ran from.
Liam Wade is sick of living in the shadow of his famous father. All he wants is to make a name for himself as a professional surfer, but it’s impossible when the media focuses on every other aspect of his life. All he wants is respect, a chance to prove himself, but when it never comes he finds himself running and hiding from the ones who love him the most.
When their paths collide Ari and Liam are forced to confront their demons, and in the process they just might find a reason to stop running.
Micalea Smeltzer delivers a heartfelt and emotional journey of self-discovery, friendship, and love with The Lies That Define Us. Liam and Ari are an unlikely pair with an immediate chemistry that easily captivated me. From the start, I was addicted to their push and pull, Liam and Ari’s shared stubbornness lending itself to plenty of tension that inevitably built to steamy levels. Evident from their initial disregard for each other, the unexpected chemistry brewing seemed to unsettle them in a way that made me absolutely giddy to see how things would unfold. Ari and Liam were frustrating, entertaining, and undeniably genuine – taking my emotions on a rollercoaster ride as I experienced their journey alongside them. I adored seeing more of Remy and Mathias, one of my favorite couples from Micalea’s Willow Creek series. In a way, it made this story feel like coming home. Well-written, thoughtful, and full of surprises, Micalea Smeltzer continues to wow me with her lovable characters, their heartbreaking pasts, and the breathtaking journeys they endure in the name of love.
“Liam was clearly a complicated guy. A guy I should stay a million miles away from. But I’d always been attracted to danger, and some habits die-hard. And others? Well, they kill you.”
After meeting Liam in The Road That Leads To Us, I knew he was a character I had to unravel. Closed off to everything and everyone, Liam clearly held onto something painful that made him jaded. Micalea Smeltzer uses Ari to peel back the layers of this brooding character, unearthing a man with a kind soul and an incredibly generous heart. Ari’s personal journey affected me deeply. There is a darkness in her past that shows itself through small gestures, strange habits, and her timid overall demeanor. Micalea Smeltzer cultivated a character transformation in Ari that is absolutely stunning. Ollie, Talia, and Liam encourage an independence that lets Ari discover the extent of her strength while providing the kind of unconditional support that allows her to jump without the fear of falling. When Ari and Liam’s worlds collide, they recognize a pain in one another that inspires an uneasy friendship. I absolutely adored watching that friendship expose something substantial and life altering, leaving both characters irrevocably changed.
“Because the truth is just that – the truth. It’s fact. Indisputable. With lies we can delude ourselves into believing something that doesn’t really exist. If you tell yourself something enough, it begins to feel like the truth, but that’s just another lie.”
Liam and Ari’s story is different from others Micalea Smeltzer has written. It’s haunting in a way that gives this novel an emotional weight I never expected. The mystery of Ari’s past added a touch of suspense and plenty of intrigue, keeping me riveted and determined to uncover the truth. The secondary characters played a huge part in this book and I easily fell in love with each and every one of them. Ollie and Talia made my heart soar with their unwavering kindness. I hope we’ll get to hear their story at some point because I utterly adored them. Liam’s close-knit group of friends was absolutely hilarious; they kept me laughing with their carefree attitudes and teasing banter. The easy camaraderie they shared and their unconditional support of one another spoke volumes for the kind of person Liam was and through these relationships Micalea Smeltzer was able to bring this character into sharp focus. The Lies That Define Us is truly a one of a kind journey that will break your heart and make it soar. You’ll fall to pieces and fall in love only to wind up wanting more.
I laid my head against the cool glass of the bus window and watched the rain slick against it. The water beaded against the glass and then slid down in little rivulets that I traced with my finger.
I wouldn’t miss the rain.
I wouldn’t miss anything about Oregon.
That place wasn’t my home. Never had been, and never would be.
With a jolt, the bus roared to life, startling me, but I relaxed a moment later when we pulled out of the station.
Freedom was so close to being mine.
I watched the people on the street as the bus pulled away. I was searching for buzzed brown hair and eerie black eyes, but he wasn’t amongst them.
He didn’t know I’d left yet.
And hopefully, by the time he did, I’d be long gone.
I adjusted my hoodie so my face was hidden from the other people on the bus and wiggled around, settling myself in for the long ride to California.
Unlike the other people on the bus, I didn’t have a cellphone to keep me company. Cellphones were traceable so I’d ditched mine. I couldn’t risk him finding me, because if he had I was certain he’d kill me. He would’ve eventually killed me if I stayed, too. My only option had been to take the risk of running away. I would have rather died on my terms than his, but if everything went according to plan, I’d be free and he’d never find me.
He called me Scarlett, but Scarlett didn’t exist.
Scarlett was a lie.
My name was Ariella, and I was reclaiming my stolen life.
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Don’t miss the rest of the Us series:
The Road that Leads to Us (Us #1)
The Game that Breaks Us (Us #3)
A Love Like Ours (Us Series Novella)
Micalea Smeltzer is a bestselling Young and New Adult author from Winchester, Virginia. She’s always working on her next book, and when she has spare time she loves to read and spend time with her family.