this is the second book in the a likely story series, but having not read the first one i can assure you that it stands alone. however, there are events that happen in this book that are influenced by things that happen in the first book, and some things in dirty little secrets might be a spoiler for the first book if you haven't read it at all. so if that bothers you, read them in order.
xander dade has been in love with charlie mcgovern since he was a skinny tech-savant kid out on the streets. they were a team. she took care of him, protected him, comforted him. but when she was forced to leave their benefactor's care he felt incredibly guilty and stayed away because he was so sure he'd done her wrong.
charlie was always a master thief. so when she steals a chemical formula from an evil pharmaceutical mastermind that the government is watching things go south pretty quickly. when xander shows up on her doorstep out of the blue, ten years after she last saw him, she's thrilled, but also she wants to keep him out of her problems.
she's also kind of overwhelmed because the awkward teenager she remembers is a hunk of a man. and she's a fat blonde to most people. xander thinks she is gorgeous. and his opinion is really all that matters. these two are in their heads a lot of the time, xander stepping in it because he has no idea that charlie doesn't immediately know where his mind is at. he's loved her always, he'll love her always. that's clear to him from the start. how he makes it clear to her is another matter.
for a time i was worried that there was going to be a lot of outside meddling and advising, something i really detest in romance novel series is when there are know-it-all characters. but it helps that while this person is right, to a point, she isn't fully right. and xander is able to figure stuff out on his own. i like relationships without a sideline coaching section, and xander and charlie have all the love, they just need to figure out the trust in it bit.
**dirty little secrets will publish on june 27, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical underground) in exchange for my honest review.