Wendy and Eloreen review ‘Lovely Little Liars’ (Mason and Zane) by Julia McBryant. Published April 17, 2020, 190 pages.
After his mother died, sweet, sheltered Mason Pinckney spent a homeschooled childhood on the sea islands off the coast of Carolina without a TV or exposure to pop culture. After moving Savannah and making friends, a night of drinking ends up with what’s supposed to be a one-night stand. Mason doesn’t recognize Zane Smith, a recent Oscar nominee for Best Actor. He doesn’t care about fame. Zane’s floored he’s found the only person in America who doesn’t swoon over him on sight.
Zane’s closeted for career reasons. The paparazzi’s stalking. Hollywood’s gossiping. Both Zane and Mason — and especially Zane — are hiding their true selves behind the masks others expect of them. But the two are determined to make the relationship work.
A story about finding yourself despite circumstance, difference, and division, this gay billionaire, mm movie-star romance will keep you believing in the power of true love, the meaning of friendship, and the importance of loving someone for their authentic self — no matter what the consequences.
* A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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“Zane! What the hell are you doing?!”
A woman was shrieking in registers usually managed only by teen girls and particular pop stars. Mason clamped his hand over the ear that wasn’t pressed against the pillow and burrowed. Zane sat up.
“What the hell are you doing, barging in? I said I wanted to sleep late! I texted you I was going out! You saw me leave the bar!”
The woman sniffed. Mason still had his eyes closed and his hand over his ear, but the high-pitched voice leaked through. “You don’t keep your tricks overnight. And if you want to look at those houses, you need to get up.”
“I said cancel them, Jessica, Jesus Christ! What the hell didn’t you get? I want to get up and go to brunch and chill out.”
“Maybe.” Zane’s voice edged towards dangerous. “Now get out. You woke him up and ruined everything.”
“Yessir.” Her heels clicked; the door slammed. Mason moved his hand.
“I am so sorry, Mason. That was my assistant. She can be a bitch. And a stickler. I should be grateful for her, she keeps me on track, but Jesus, she can be a pain in my ass.”
Mason blinked and turned around to Zane. “Your assistant?”
“Yeah, my assistant.” His forehead wrinkled, and he tilted his head.
Mason knotted his brow. He tried to shake the cobwebs out of his head. “Why d‘you have an assistant?”
Zane shook his head. “You can’t expect me to take care of everything, can you? I have two, plus the PR girl and sometimes the bodyguard.”
Mason’s stomach rollercoastered. “What um, exactly, d’you do?”
Zane gaped. “You’re fucking kidding me.”
Mason sat up. “Zane.” He spoke carefully. “What d’you do?”
“Oh my god. You’re — you’ve got to be teasing.”
“No, I’m not.” His stomach flipped again.
“This is a joke.” Zane’s eyes widened. “You’re joking.”
“I’m not, I swear!”
“Oh my fucking god.” He stared at Mason, and his voice went quiet. “You don’t know. You really don’t know.”
Mason shook his head. Panic wrapped him in an icy clutch. “I don’t. I swear to god I don’t. Zane, what the fuck is going on?”
“I’m — I’m Zane Smith. Well, actually Zane Travers, but they didn’t think it sounded as good. I — I mean — Mason, I was nominated for Best Actor last year!”
“Best — like, what kind of Best Actor nomination?” He shook his head, still fuzzy from sleep.
“At the fucking Oscars!”
Mason stared. “Oh my fucking god. You’re — you’re like, a goddamn movie star?!”
“Oh. Oh, Christ. Oh my god. Okay. Um, what am I supposed to say here?”
“I thought you knew!” Zane ran his hand through his hair. “Like that girl who asked if she could take a selfie with me?”
“I thought maybe she was your friend! How the hell would I know? I don’t even own a TV!”
“Oh god. Oh, god. This is — that’s why you were so sweet. You had no idea. Fuck Jessica. Just fuck her.” He dropped his head in his hands. “Oh, fuck her. She ruined everything. It could’ve been so good this morning. And now you’re freaking out. And you’ll leave, and tell everyone you went home with Zane Smith, and even worse, you didn’t even fuck him because he wanted to cuddle instead—”
Mason’s heart dropped. “Are you kicking me out, then? I was sort of hoping …” He swallowed. Now he couldn’t admit what he’d been hoping, and something inside him cracked a little bit.
I had been on a gay billionaire troupe kick for a couple of days when Wendy and I chatted about gay billionaires and she mentioned this one. I said, “Sure, why not.” It’s a bit like being in the right place at the right time. Thus the return of Eloreen to reviewing on RGR after a really long hiatus (sorry about that).
I have to say that I went into this with no expectations since I had not read anything from Julia previously. Wendy had recommend her from reading other books and liked her style. After reading Lovely Little Liars, I have to agree. It’s a great semi-angsty, raw depiction of grittily realistic broken men just trying to live, dream, and love the only way they know how. Zane is a fairly famous actor just trying to find something real. While not necessarily looking for anything resembling love, just something to feel grounding, he fell into the start of love when he met Mason at a bar and he treated him like a regular person from the start. Mason is a sweetheart, and hopelessly naive, but you just want to pinch his cheeks like Southerners do (having lived in the South for most of my adult life, I can say this is a thing) because he’s so cute and you want to take care of him too. Despite this, he happens to be at the right place and time to meet Zane in said bar and they go to Zane’s place that very evening for what they both thought was a hookup but ended up being so much more. From here, it snowballs into an almost true-to-life depiction painted by the author of their interactions from the very beginning not going exactly as planned. You see from both Zane’s and Mason’s perspectives on how they they think, work through their respective issues, deal with the real-world issues of being miles apart, and grow enough to figure out what they want individually, and as a couple. Mason has a good head on his shoulders despite living a fairly sheltered life until he goes to college. You don’t realize that his issues are bigger than you thought until almost the end. Zane is not your typical asshole actor despite the environment grew up with having been in the business a long time himself. It’s obvious that he’s very broken with his interactions of those who’ve been around him up to meeting Mason and his friends, and he discovers he wants real friends like Mason. What blooms between them is the love that has been put through the wringer, and by the end, passes the first tests they have as a couple that you see them lasting a lifetime together. I definitely want to see more of them in future books to see how they are doing. The only drawback was there were a few places in the beginning that I got a little lost on who was “speaking”, both with the dialog and some of the points of view changes, but they were fairly minor comparatively speaking. This is another story that I had a hard time putting down. I think I read through it in one sitting: two at most.
Per Julia’s website, this story is book 1 of a new series Falling for Fame. However, it is part of the “Southern” universe. This is a stand alone, and you do not need to read the others to enjoy this one. I certainly didn’t. 🙂 If you are like me though, and just want to know everything about everyone mentioned, you definitely want to go back and read the secondary characters’s own stories.
Overall, I give Lovely Little Liars 9 out of 10 pots of gold. I definitely recommend reading, and I will certainly go back and read the rest of the “Southern” universe.
9/10 Pots of Gold or 90% recommended
Julia McBryant writes the most beautifully broken characters. I keep expecting something light and fluffy from her but these boys, like the rest of her works are deceptively deep. They might talk the big talk and there’s plenty of angsty drama that you’d expect from the young and rich characters. There’s very explicit and erotic moments that might lead you to believe they are nothing but superficial playboys. But these two are B.R.O.K.E! Like one of them is so broke that I didn’t even see how broken until the end of the book.
I love how Mason and his friends all have that Southern culture rooted deeply within them. Mason is quiet and shy and sweet and I fell in love with him almost immediately. And Zane, just wow! Talk about a product of your environment. Flashy and all Californian, he struggles with almost everything he comes across. From hiding his sexuality to following his advisers blindly whether it’s his parents or his PA. It was sometimes painful for me to follow him along as he muddled through a first real relationship, first real friends and just growing up and finding out who you are or who he might want to be. But mostly it was a very enjoyable experience meeting this young couple.
The story is stand alone but follows her “Southern” universe. You’d definitely follow the secondary characters better having read her other works but it’s not necessary to enjoy this book.
9/10 Pots of Gold or 90% recommended
Julia McBryant lives in the prettiest city in the whole world with her roving nebula of German Shepherds. Southern born, Southern bred, and when she dies, she’ll be Southern dead, Julia loves gold glitter, brand-new pens her children haven’t stolen, and notebooks full of character details.
She also enjoys unicorns, caffeine, and unicorns on caffeine.
When she isn’t writing she’s writing.