After retiring from the Secret Service, Randy Vaughn now owns a piano bar. He’s successful and respected by both his patrons and his employees. His passions are few but strong as he collects fine art and makes weekly trips to an exclusive leather bar to release some tension. Randy lives alone and for the most part he’s okay with that until an English art historian comes calling.
Jack Fraser came from England to see Randy, or more specifically a painting that Randy owns. Except Jack won’t tell Randy exactly why he wants to view the painting and Randy has no reason to do anybody favors. But there is a connection between the men and Randy senses something else simmering beneath Jack, a desire to let go, and Randy is just the man that can make that happen.
But attraction will only take them so far as Randy’s life becomes complicated. He takes in a homeless teen and then the piano bar is broken into. While Randy and Jack become closer, Randy can’t help wonder if the painting is really Jack’s end game. All Randy does know is that the evidence is mounting that someone is lying. If Randy wants to make a relationship with Jack work, he most certainly has to be able to trust him.
Robert Winter is a newer author with this being this third published book and this is yet another impressive addition to his catalog of work. Lying Eyes is both character and plot driven and Winter handles both areas well to achieve a well balanced story in both of these regards. The point of view comes from Randy and he is a well developed character. The author really gives a sense of who he is and where he has come from. He’s an interesting guy having had a career with the Secret Service and there is a story behind that as well. But he is also well versed in the world of art. He buys the paintings that speak to him and also paints some of his own, but it’s his large muscular build that seems to throw everyone off regarding his knowledge of art. A few years ago he had bought a painting that captured his eye and now he has art curator Jack Fraser at his door with a keen interest in this one painting.
Jack and Randy are opposites at first glance, but their taste in art, as well as their taste in what they like behind closed doors, complements each other. Randy likes to be in control, but he thrives on giving his partners exactly what they need and he knows that Jack is hungry to be told exactly what to do. That’s not to say anything is easy for these guys. The plot has several moving parts that for the most part all fit well together. The painting that Randy owns is the catalyst for much of the story. Jack won’t tell Randy why he wants to see the painting at first, but it was clearly obvious to me from the start what Jack was thinking so that didn’t hold as much tension for me as maybe it was supposed to.
Another strong area of the story is a homeless teen that Randy takes in. This added another layer to the story where not all was at it seemed to be. The relationship between Randy and Jack gets the least amount of page time. Randy is interested in Jack, but has serious reservations about getting involved. There is a D/s vibe that comes through with them, but it doesn’t run that deep for the amount of time we get to see them together. I felt that the attraction between the two of them was teased throughout the entire book and except for one night, it’s not until the end that they try and put a real relationship together. There are lots of other areas to hold your interest, but I would have liked a bit more on the relationship end as well.
There are some characters that crossover from Winter’s other books and it works well if you have read the books to catch a glimpse of former MCs, but doesn’t stand in the way of fully enjoying the book if you aren’t familiar with them. While the plot wasn’t overly mysterious for me, there was just enough tension to hold my attention all of the way through. The book as a whole is well written and I certainly look forward to future works from this author.