Love You So Sweetly by Tara Lain

Tara Lain - Love You So Sweetly Cover ydal03Title: Love You So Sweetly

Series: Love You So 04

Author: Tara Lain

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (161 pages)

ISBN: 978-1-64405-568-7

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (13 Sept 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Reading his future in a glass of sweet tea.

The youngest son of one of America’s richest families, Remy Merced is so busy trying to save his family company from collapse, he’s never taken time to figure out if he’s gay, much less if he’s happy. Then his meddling mama hires him an assistant who’s everything Remy thinks he doesn’t want. Cute Harper Treadwell, from rural Arkansas, is a brilliant business prodigy… and openly gay. His wit and charm could confirm Remy’s suspicions about his own sexuality almost instantly—if they weren’t both already partnered.

When Remy’s girlfriend and Harper’s boyfriend get a little too friendly, Remy finds that the path to happiness requires a long drive in an old Prius, a growing appreciation for small towns, and a whole lot of sweet tea. But before they can forge a future—they have to let go of the past.

Purchase Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Love You So Sweetly is the fourth book in Tara Lain’s Love You So series. There is no read to read the series in order as they are completely independent books, although the premise behind each book is that the romance includes one main character who comes from or has wealth/privilege in a high position in a company, and the one main character who doesn’t have any of those trappings, and is just a “normal” person.

I was excited about this book because I have been loving the Love You So books, and they are perhaps my favourite books that are written by Lain. I found the blurb perhaps a little misleading as I expected there to be a stronger thread of plot involving the MCs then current flames, but whatever. I don’t think it took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Love You So Sweetly is a sweet romance, there is no denying that. But for that reason I also loved the book. It follows Remy Merced, the youngest son who is trying to save the family’s massive national company from collapse in the future by revitalising the brand. He’s stressed and over worked and that is the reason why Remy’s meddling mother butts in and hires Remy a personal assistant, the son of a friend from her little hometown in Arkansas.

Harper Treadwell loves the world of business and excelled during his degree. However, he is from a small town and it is only through family connections that he is able to land a job. Not that Harper will complain. He wants to go out into the big wide world, which is partly why he had left town to move in with his boyfriend in California.

Remy has never really had a chance to question his sexuality, though he does date women and currently has a girlfriend. However, despite some early resistance, Remy sees that Harper is everything he could ever need. First he displays his knack of the business world, and later on as they get to know each other and their respective personal circumstances change, there’s a spark that is a lot more than employer and employee.

I love the simplicity of this book, it’s sweet and not overly complicated, which means that we get a lot of depth out of the characters and I really liked the depth of emotion that I felt as the romance progressed. It made it feel real, and fits perfectly with the overall feel of the previous books in this series. I’m definitely keen if there is more to come!

Spell Cat by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Spell Cat Audio Cover cnw74NTitle: Spell Cat

Series: The Aloysius Tales 01

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: K.C. Kelly

Genre: Paranormal, Witches

Length: 6 hrs, 48 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (17th June 2019)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: When Killian Barth, history professor, meets Blaine Genneau, quantum physicist, they ignite their own big bang. But Killian can’t pursue a physics professor – or a human. As the most pow-erful male witch in 10 generations, Killian must bolster his dying race by reproducing – despite the fact that he’s gay.

Even a fling with Blaine is out of the question, because Killian has been told sex with humans drains his power. But if that’s true, why can young human Jimmy Janx dissolve spoons with the power of his mind? If Killian can sort through the lies he’s been fed, he’ll still face his biggest obstacle – convincing rational scientist Blaine to believe in magic.

With his ancient and powerful cat familiar, Aloysius, on his shoulder, Killian brings the lightning against deceit and greed to save Blaine from danger and prove love is the greatest power of them all.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Spell Cat is the first book in Tara Lain’s paranormal romance series, The Aloysius Tales. This narration is actually from the recently published second edition from Dreamspinner Press. Before coming across the audio of this story, I’ve not read either edition of this story. However, I thought the plot sounded interesting and more often than not I’ve really enjoyed Lain’s work (probably with a preferences towards her recent stuff than the older stuff).

The narration of this book was performed by KC Kelly. Who did a good job, creating tones and voices not only for the two MCs, but a whole host of minor characters, which also included a couple “European” and “Russian” type accents. It was honestly a great performance and I think this is one of those books where I wouldn’t enjoy as much if I simply read it book myself.

I will admit, I did a bit of research, because from the blurb I found it confusing as to why the series was called the Aloysius Tales. Then I actually started the book and then I realised: Aloysius is the name of the damn cat.

The story starts with Professor Killian Barth, a history professor who specialises in the history of witchcraft. The subject he teaches is popular – from kids wanting easy grades to others who find it cool to study witches. He also happens to be a bona fide witch, the most powerful witch for 10 generations and is known as the witch master, a powerful figurehead in the community. The witches are dying, the witch elders telling everyone that this is because witches have been diluting their powers by “mixing” with humans. And being the most powerful male witch means that his power-hungry mother and another power-hungry elder, have orchestrated an arranged marriage between Killian and the most powerful female witch to ensure the purity of the witch line. The biggest issue being that Killian is gay.

This makes Killian a heart breaking figure because he has never allowed himself some measure of happiness. He has been told his whole life having sex with humans will deplete his powers and make him weaker, yet he is comfortable and prefers to be in the human world. Perhaps worst of all, when he meets physics professor Blain Genneau, there is an instant spark of attraction between the two men. Which only serves to make Killian more miserable.

The story, shortly after Killian is introduced to his new familiar, the black cat Aloysius, is Killian’s battle to be find out what exactly is behind the whole “humans deplete a witch’s power”. All to find a way out of his arranged marriage and maybe even find some kind of happiness, no matter how temporary. Killian is definitely the main character here, although Blaine I felt got about as much “air time” as the secondary characters such as Killian’s fiancé Lavender and Killian’s strange student Jimmy Janks. In some ways that didn’t feel very fair to their romance, but for the overall story it worked that this was predominately told from Killian’s POV, and Killian has a lot of thing going on.

I recommend this one to those that love paranormal fiction, in particular those that like witches and magic. This is a first in a series which follows the influence of familiar Aloysius on the witch community and the love lives of a select few. I’m keen to hear or read more.

Hidden Powers by Tara Lain

Tara Lain - Hidden Powers Cover trhy47Title: Hidden Powers

Series: Superordinary Society 01

Author: Tara Lain

Genre: New Adult, Other Paranormal, Fantasy 

Length: Novel (278pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 12, 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 3.75 Hearts

Blurb: Jazz Vanessen is weird—and not just because he’s a werewolf. For most of his life, he’s felt different from his alpha male brothers and friends. Since he’s adopted, he can’t even blame it on family.

Now eighteen, Jazz meets his idol, the social activist Lysandra Mason, and her breathtaking nephew, Dash Mercury. When Dash is around, even stranger things start to happen, including Jazz falling hopelessly in lust. Not only is Jazz having visions, making people disappear, and somehow turning invisible, but somebody’s following him and threatening to reveal his pack’s secrets to the world.

Together with Dash and Jazz’s equally amazing friends—Carla, BeBop, Khadija, and Fatima—they discover the danger is even more lethal than they thought, and Jazz’s weirdness may save all their lives. .

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-154-2

Product Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Shorty

Review: This is a spin off to the Harker’s Pack series. I read those books years ago and forget them.

A lot of information regarding the characters from those books take up a lot of room in the beginning. There was so much I felt bogged down at times. But then it levels off and we get to Jazz and Dash’s story which I liked but felt it was too fast paced at times and sometimes there were things that did not make sense.

Never the less this story, when it gets going, is intriguing and I enjoyed the plot and the new characters introduced. Jazz’s power was interesting and the way it played out was entertaining. The mystery was well written with a side of danger.

Overall it was a good read that I enjoyed.

Fire Balls by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Fire Balls Audio Cover 575hyTitle: Fire Balls

Series: Balls to the Wall 02

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Nick J Russo

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 3 hrs, 27 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (8th October 2018)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 3.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands 5-foot-6, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate – and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe – humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life – his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Fire Balls is the second book in Tara Lain’s series Balls to the Wall. I decided to go back into this series, despite not liking book 1 much (I will admit, I had a lot of issues). However, there are plenty of other books/series by Lain that I adore. Typically, I really like Lain’s writing and the characters.

And let’s be honest, although I enjoyed this story more than I did the first book, I can’t say that it was the best thing ever. I know why I didn’t connect with the story, it’s pretty simple really. I feel that the characters suffered with the length of the book. There was not enough room for development and so there were a lot of sudden changes in attitude and some questionable personality traits that weren’t explained. This is true of the first book in the series as well.

The story is about artist Rodney Mansfield and firefighter Hunter Fallon. This is very much an instalove type of situation, however, the roadblocks that prevent these guys getting together include bigoted views from Hunter’s friends who also happen to be firefighters (I got really annoyed that he didn’t stand up for himself because these guys didn’t seem like real friends, and his brother was an arse). The issue being that Rod is out and proud, he’s not a manly man although he isn’t femme either. He is just himself and has no apologies. Meanwhile, Hunter is “straight gay” and insecure especially when he encounters someone like Rod, who he sees as weak, and the man is in fact stronger than Hunter.

Yet in saying that, this story is all about tackling these horrible and bigoted misconceptions and this is what I liked most about the book. Unfortunately, I felt that it needed to be taken a step further.

The narration for the story did lift my overall enjoyment of the book. It was excellent. I think that Nick J Russo is an excellent narrator and done a hell of a lot to lift the original material. Russo is one of my favourite narrators and it was a joy to listen to him despite my feelings for the story itself.

Volley Balls by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Volley Balls Audio Cover 46v3gkTitle: Volley Balls

Series: Balls to the Wall 01

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 4 hrs, 1 min

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (10th April 2018)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖 2.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: A “pumped up” version of the Volley Balls story, twice as long as the original.

A double dose of alpha male might be better than one.

Despite just getting out of an abusive relationship with an asshole alpha, David Underwood’s wandering glance lands on two hot members of the Australian volleyball team on Laguna Beach and gets him harassed again. Still, when the delicious Gareth Marshall proves his interest by coming out to his team, David succumbs to his attraction. But Gareth’s volleyball partner, Edge, who’s equally hot, makes the lovers’ lives miserable.

For Gareth, a lifetime of hiding his orientation – and his attraction – from his best friend, Edge, as well as everyone else around him, adds up to hurt and frustration. David’s the first man to ever compete with Edge for Gareth’s passion. But Edge has secrets of his own, and David’s ex-lover will never be happy without David under his fist. With everything stacked against him, can a gay Laguna man find happiness with an alpha male – or two?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Volley Balls is the first book in Tara Lain’s Balls to the Wall series, set in idyllic Laguna Beach (much like her series Love in Laguna, and I think the Love You So series, too). The way I understand it, this is a revised and expanded edition of the story, although I’ve had no prior knowledge of it before listening to the audio. I was interested, however, because I have enjoyed a number of other books and series of Lain (like those already mentioned). I’ve found it very easy to connect to Lain’s characters and get so easily invested into their storylines. So I thought that this would be a no-brainer – a cool, short story to get into to pass some time. As always when I see something involving Australia or Australian characters, that was just the icing on the cake for me to get into the story.

But – there is a big but… I struggled with this story. I struggled with the characters – connecting to them, empathising with them, wanting them to have their HEA. I struggled with how the plot went too and how the characters story arcs panned out. I got annoyed when Australians were brushed with the homophobic brush, but I pushed that aside because while it’s not all Australians, naturally there are a lot of homophobic a*holes here as there is anywhere else. I struggled so much that I have left it almost 2 weeks to write the review because I just don’t know what to say.

Before I break this down further, let me get into the plot of this story.

An Australian volleyball team is in Laguna, two of the guys are Gareth and Edge. Gareth and Edge have been friends for years. But Gareth has stayed closeted for fear of what his teammates and his best friend would say if they found out he is gay. His actions appear justified when his team and Edge are homophobic a*holes, not holding back calling men names such as fairy.

But Gareth has caught the attention of David Underwood, and vice versa. David is a sweet, down to earth guy and has major concerns about what it would mean to get involved with a closeted volley ball player whose friends who are horrible, homophobic and even seem to border on psychotic (though I am sure that was just a way to get the story moving forward).

Then there is Edge. Gareth’s best friend and the man that could prevent David and Gareth from being together, completely in love. Edge is jealous and doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions when it comes to Gareth, who has been his best friend and so much more for so many years. To me, Edge is the most difficult character, because his actions are so full of venom and at times manipulative it is then hard for me as the reader to understand his about face which leads Gareth and David opening their minds to a different kind of relationship.

As you can now probably guess, my biggest issue in this book is Edge. While I liked David and Gareth together and felt the connection and potential between the characters, I felt that the addition of Edge into the relationship was tacked onto the end. Although, to be honest, I don’t feel that there was a lot of character development to fully understand the motivations of each of the guys, especially Edge. I normally love MM menage romances but I found it difficult to believe Edge’s connection and chemistry when he was so full of hate and venom. I’m not sure, part of me kind of thinks that if the book was longer and that if there was significantly more character development this book would be better, and Edge could be more relatable.

My feelings for this book are so intense that I’m not just getting to the narration and tacking that onto the end of the book. To be honest, it was the narration by Nick J Russo that kept me going. I’ve heard Russo’s work in the past and so I didn’t have any concerns there. He does a great job with the characters, even does a fairly good Aussie accent for Gareth and Edge. For me, while his performance couldn’t fully redeem the book in my eyes (because there are some books that I just can’t read but totally love the same book when I listen to the audio), his performance was great.

Despite my issues with the book, I am certain there are many people that would love this – I mean, I’ve read other reviews that show just that. I recommend this to people that want a very sexy book, with tonnes of steamy sex scenes, menage/poly romances and a relationship that is best described as instalove.

Hearts and Flour by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Hearts and Flour 3d Audio Cover 2j4nuTitle: Hearts and Flour

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Ry Forest

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 3 hrs, 13 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (19th June 2018)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Can a raw food enthusiast find love with a guy who bakes cupcakes?

When Micah Truveen’s devoted health-food customers start showing up with white flour, Micah wants to chew nails! To make his misery worse, he finds his yoga teacher boyfriend in bed with another guy the day before Valentine’s Day. Micah decides to drown his misery at a friend’s an-ti-Valentine’s Day orgiastic hookup party – and meets the beautiful Queen, a gorgeous cross-dresser who’s got Southern sugah in his mouth and the right equipment under the dress.

But when the hookup turns serious, Micah has to compromise to protect Queen’s secrets from his beloved grandmother. With everything against them, can two hearts rise above the flour?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Hearts and Flour is a standalone, short story by Tara Lain (under 4 hours so perfect for commuting). I really like Tara Lain and although it is not a part of any series, it has the same Laguna setting as with her series’ Love in Laguna and Balls to the Wall.

The introduces us to Micah. He’s a raw vegan whose passion is running his raw vegan juice bar in Laguna, taking pleasure in helping his customer be healthy and stick to a vegetable-based diet. But life changes when his yoga-instructor boyfriend cheats on him and a cup cake store opens near his, drawing his very healthy customers to indulge in sinful cakes. Things start to turn around when he goes to a friend’s anti-Valentine party, where he meets drag-queen, Queen (? Not sure, Queen doesn’t like labels but feels a certain freedom wearing women’s clothing but identifies as a man). Things go well, really well. Then they meet again, first as Queen but then again as Quentin and either way, Micah is captured.

Quentin moved to California from the South with his elderly grandmother, who is quite spritely despite her age. He thinks they moved because the California climate is easier on the woman who practically raised him. The two have settled into their new home. Quentin and his grandmother have opened their own cupcake store. His grandmother goes to yoga. And despite being closeted, at least to his grandmother, Quentin meets other gay men and feels the instant attraction to Micah.

For obvious reasons, despite the fantastic chemistry, there is a definite stumbling block to this relationship!

The book was narrated by Ry Forest. I had to look it up to realise that I have heard Forest and immensely enjoyed the narration performed for Lain’s Love You So series. Still, that didn’t give me any expectations. However, I really enjoyed the narration of Hearts and Flour. Both characters were given very distinct voices, as a bonus I loved Quentin/Queen’s southern accent. I also loved his portrayal of Quentin’s 80-odd year-old grandmother who is very much a Southern Lady. Excellently done.

If this was a longer story we would be wanting to find out more about Micah and how his deep-seated issues led him to be a raw vegan, but for the length of the book we got the perfect amount of information, even if Micah was a bit of an overbearing drama queen at one stage.

I recommend this one to anyone who wants a quick, simple romance that will warm you. There is no angst, an annoying and manipulative ex and two enjoy sweet MCs who need some love in their lives.

Fool of Main Beach by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Fool of Main Street Audio Cover 2374tfvTitle: Fool of Main Beach

Series: Love in Laguna 05

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: KC Kelly

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 9 hrs, 17 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (4th November 2017)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Merle Justice wants to reach for the stars, but it’s tough to get respect when playing a teeny-bopper vampire on TV. Then he meets a famous director anxious to give him all he thinks he wants—and maybe a bit more. Everything’s looking up until a life-threatening encounter with some homophobes on Main Beach puts Merle face-to-face with a Sasquatch-sized hero in a pink puffer coat.

Tom Henry defies description. As unsophisticated and simple as an angel, he walks through life content with who he is and asking for very little except to care for his sister, Lily, and the dogs he loves. Then he meets Merle, the embodiment of dreams he barely knows he has. Merle knows the people who hold his future in their hands might love Tom—but they’ll never under-stand Merle and Tom together. Tom knows it too. With lives this far apart, who’s really the fool of Main Beach?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Fool of Main Beach is the fifth and final book in Tara Lain’s Love in Laguna series. If you haven’t read or heard the rest of the series, you really should, just so that you can do justice to all the characters, because I’ve become so emotionally invested in this, it’s crazy. However, this book in particular is good for those that love sweet romances with a splash of Hollywood.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, with incredibly relatable characters and deep romances, I’ve loved both Lain’s writing and Kelly’s narration. Both were excellent, although I’m going to say that I got a little annoyed hearing Audi pronounced as “Or-dee” as opposite to “Ow-dee”. Though I figure it could be an accent thing, like the ridiculous way Americans pronounce Craig (don’t get me started).

Onto the actual story, Lain has left the sweetest story to last in this series, and other than the pace of the story starting at a good speed and then slowing down at a couple points, there isn’t really much I can criticise. Quite simply, this is a sweet romance and full of heart.

Readers met Merle Justice in book 2, when Ru and Gray got together. Merle was the famous TV actor who starred in the stage production of Hamlet with Hollywood heartthrob Gray Anson. Unlike Gray, Merle has been out of the closet for years and while that has affected his career he’s been pretty comfortable as the lead in a popular teen vampire series (basically, he’s like the Angel or Edward Cullen of the show that he’s in). However, his stint in Hamlet introduced him to a group of down to friends, the very same group we’ve been following for this series. Now Merle is having a home built in Laguna when he can get away from LA, he’ll be close to his friends and in an idyllic seaside location.

One night on the beach some bigots try to attack Merle, but he is saved by a gentle giant called Tom Henry. Later, when he goes through his home with his friend and contractor, Billy from book 1, Merle finds Tom working on Billy’s crew. And now fate has intervened and is throwing the two men together. They start a really beautiful friendship, although at first it takes time for Merle to see that Tom is much more than his outside appearance. In this sense, Merle undergoes a lot of change and development throughout this story.

Tom is a gentle giant. He kind of naïve and has very low self-esteem, but he loves animals and will do just about anything for his friends. His naivety can be easily mistaken for some form of mental illness by the reader, I’ll admit that I wondered this, but in the end he is a pure soul whose doesn’t seem to be touched by the darkness of life. He just wants love and happiness for everyone. Even for his parents who have sent him away for being gay and will do anything, even sending the last of his money, for his beloved little sister.

Together their lives seem incompatible, Tom knows what he wants and knows how much of that he can get because in reality he is not famous as Merle and does not see himself as amazing as the man he could give his heart to. Despite the fact that they are amazing friends, it really does seem to be an impossible dream, to both of them but especially to Tom. But Merle is less accepting of the logical outcome, yet he must contend with his own preconceived notions before figuring out what’s more important.

Home Improvement by Tara Lain Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Tara Lain - Home Improvement - A Love Story Banner

Hi guys! We have Tara Lain popping in today with the tour for her upcoming release Home Improvement, we have a great guest post from Tara, a fantastic excerpt and a brilliant $10 Amazon GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~

Tara Lain - Home Improvement - A Love Story Cover 3464thw3

Home Improvement

(A Love Story)

Tara Lain

Romance on Aisle Sixteen—opposites attract amid the hammers and screws of the home improvement store.

Gabe Mason became a father at seventeen, and his daughter, Ellie, is the most important thing in his life. But being the parent the courts demand means Gabe has given up most of his dreams—education, making furniture, a gay social life—to be a model dad with a steady, reliable job in a home improvement store. Life’s predictable until Jerry, a shy, eccentric guy in a hat and sunglasses, begs Gabe to oversee the renovation of his run-down mansion.

Gabe loves the house and the work, and Jerry’s pretty lovable too, but when Gabe discovers Jerry’s secret identity, he fears their passion could overturn both their lives forever.

Release date: 9th July 2019
❣️ Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunes | Kobo | B&N ❣️**.•.•.

Continue reading “Home Improvement by Tara Lain Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!”

Lord of A Thousand Steps by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Lord of a Thousand Steps Audio Cover 832bg3Title: Lord of a Thousand Steps

Series: Love in Laguna 04

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: KC Kelly

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 7 hrs, 42 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (12th December 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: To architecture student Ian Carney, family means everything. Taken in by his brother, Jim, when his father threw him out at 18 for being gay, Ian yearns to create his own family with his boy-friend, Rico. But Rico’s in Mexico caring for a sick father, Ian hasn’t had sex in a month and a half, and his gorgeous boss, Braden Lord, CEO of the architectural firm Ian interns for, is look-ing better and better.

Braden’s life is chaos. Just out of the closet and going through an ugly divorce from his wife of 15 years who’s trying to take custody of his two children, he desperately resolves not to suc-cumb to a completely inappropriate attraction to Ian – even though his kids adore both the man and his crazy cat.

When Rico proves to be a snake in the grass and Ian exercises his powers of seduction, what starts as a friends with benefits fling turns into real life real fast. Can Ian give up his romantic dreams for an old guy who didn’t come out until he carried a mountain of baggage?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Lord of A Thousand Steps is the fourth book in Tara Lain’s Love in Laguna series. This has been a wonderful series to listen to on audio, Lain’s writing translates well to audio narration and the characters are just so relatable. I was looking forward to this book because we’ve already met both characters separately in the previous books. The series revolves around one of the men in the featured couple battling his way out of the closet, while the other is out and proud but needs to support and understand the transition is new man needs so much.

KC Kelly has done a fantastic job performing the narration for this series. He nails the light-hearted moments just as well as he nails the tense moment, with just the right tone and distinct voices for the main characters.

Ian Carney entered this series in book 2, when he showed up on his much older brother Jim’s doorstep with a stray cat he found outside Jim’s place. Ian was about to go to college and be the architect he had always dreamed of being when their father disowned him for being gay. Three years down the track, Ian is living with his brother and his brother’s fiancé and the cat. He has become that architect he has always wanted to be. And the same boyfriend, Rico, he had when he arrived in Laguna is still with him. But when Rico goes to Mexico Ian is understanding and sympathetic of Rico’s situation, with his father potentially dying. Ian is the loyal boyfriend to a fault, even when he feels an attraction to one of his bosses at the firm where he works while attending school.

For Braden Lord, his life is a mess. His professional life is fine, he’s CEO of a major architectural firm. His personal life is a mess. He’s divorcing his wife, trying to keep his kids and she is after everything she can get her grubby hands on, including the company if she can. Braden is ready to not live a lie in the back of the closet. His attraction to the firms intern, Ian, doesn’t help but Braden is far too ethical to allow anything to happen. But fate brings them together, along with Ian’s cat and Braden’s kids, who both love Ian as well. If not for the conspiring ex-wife, their lives seem to just click together as the romance slowly builds once Ian can allow himself to give his heart to another after Rico.

I have to admit that this is probably my least favourite book in the series. I simply found Ian’s situation was vastly more complicated than called for. While there was no cheating or anything, the timeline made the plot feel rather compressed and I didn’t feel the development of the characters quite like I did in the other books until about halfway through this one. The story also employs one plot device that I feel is bit bland – the old evil ex, for both men, the lying rat ex-boyfriend and the bitch ex-wife who doesn’t want her kids so much as she wants revenge. Still, how Lain has written this in works fine and actually adds a little more drama into the overall plot.

Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable book and those that have been following the series will likely appreciate Ian getting his own story, I know I did.

Prince of the Playhouse by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Prince Of The Playhouse Audio Cover 3548hjTitle: Prince of the Playhouse

Series: Love in Laguna 03

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: KC Kelly

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 8 hrs, 41 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (6th June 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Driven by his desire to become a successful fashion designer and concerned with hiding his questionable past, Ru Maitland has let obsession with action movie star Gray Anson on the big screen replace his social life. Then obsession and reality collide when Ru is asked to design fashion costumes for a special performance of Hamlet at the Playhouse in Laguna starring none other than Gray Anson. Gray turns out to be a compelling mix of shy and brash and, despite a high profile engagement to a female socialite, the signals Gray sends Ru have his libido doing the salsa.

Gray Anson has what most people only dream of – great wealth, huge fame, a job he loves. For that, he’s given up any semblance of privacy and the right to say no to the thousands of people who depend on him and the millions who love him. He sees everything he’s ever wanted just outside the bubble of his life, but how can he make the compromises needed to embrace it? When Ru’s shady past crashes into Gray’s paparazzi-haunted present, both men have to learn that sometimes the only acceptable compromise is the truth.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: The Prince and the Playhouse is the third book in Tara Lain’s Love in Laguna series. This is a series that you need to follow in order to enjoy properly. The characters are intertwined throughout and now that I’ve gone through two books, I looked forward to checking in with the couples from books 1 and 2. When starting this series I had the niggling feeling that I’ve tried reading a book from the series before, not realising it was a series, and didn’t enjoy the book. And surprise, surprise, that book was The Prince and the Playhouse. I have to say, now that I’ve gone through the audios of this series in the proper order, I really enjoyed and has been looking forward to this story.

KC Kelly has once again done a great performance for the book. I really have no complaints. To be perfectly honest, I was simply happy that he didn’t use the voice he had done for Ru in book 1 here, because I really hadn’t liked that. Also because of that voice, I didn’t really feel particularly close to Ru. But Ru is a character full of surprises and his story was excellent.

Ru Maitland is an up and coming fashion designer, he works alongside popular designer Shaz (Chase from book 1), who is also Ru’s best friend. Ru hasn’t done well in the romance department; he has been more concerned with his career and making it in the fashion industry. He also has a massive secret which he has never told anyone of his friends, and that past is just about ready to catch up with him just as his love life and career begin to take off. Ru has been hired to work for a well known movie director, who has turned his hand to directing a stage production of Hamlet, with Ru providing his own unique brand for the costumes. This production is even more special because it features the world’s hottest action star as Hamlet, as well as one of the hottest actors on TV. Both men are attracted to Ru, but for Ru it is action star Gray Anson who is the main attraction. Ru has crushed over the movie star for a long time and now he meets the man in real life.

The possibilities aren’t exactly endless for an out and proud fashion designer and a closeted action star who is under strict order to keep that closet door firmly shut. Gray Anson isn’t exactly happy with how his life is going, mostly because every aspect of his life, including the people (women) he is seen with, is controlled by his bigoted manager. Gray knows he can’t offer a whole lot on the relationship side of things but he can’t help his attraction to Ru and the wonderful thing that his life becomes when they are alone together, because they truly can’t appear as anything more than friends in public.

The guys have a strong connection which I really enjoyed hearing. Although I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Ru even though he was ready and willing to keep everything in the closet for Gray. Gray as a character wasn’t entirely likable to me at first, but as the story progressed his character changed in positive ways because of Ru.

This was a fun story, a little bit Hollywood, a little bit gangsta, and a whole lot of love.

Knave of Broken Hearts by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Knave of Broken Hearts Audio Cover 3485bmpTitle: Knave of Broken Hearts

Series: Love in Laguna 02

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: KC Kelly

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 7 hrs, 46 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (24th November 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Jim Carney has a full time job – running from himself. Since he walked out on his wealthy family at 16 because he’d wrecked his best friend’s life over some yaoi graphic novels, Jim has lived a macho, blue-collar existence of too much booze and too little responsibility. Then Billy Ballew, the man Jim most admires, gives Jim a chance to come through as his construction supervisor. For once, Jim is determined to make someone proud. Then Jim goes in for a physical for his new job, and his yaoi dream comes to life in the form of cardiologist Ken Tanaka. Jim discovers he has two heart problems – a wonky mitral valve and a serious attraction to his doctor. But Ken is a major player, and Jim might be just a notch on the doc’s stethoscope. To Ken, Jim is unforgettable – but the living embodiment of his traditional family’s worst nightmares. How come the minute Jim decides to be responsible, he finds himself taking care of his kid brother, getting a proposal from a wealthy woman, making a deal with the devil, and winding up in the hospital – when all he really wants is the knave of broken hearts?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Knave of Broken Hearts is the second book in Tara Lain’s Love in Laguna series. I would suggest reading this series in order, because it would make it easier to understand the large cast of secondary characters that we are getting to know. I love Tara Lain’s writing, I find it so easy to connect to, but in saying that I do think that I once tried reading a book in this series (without realising it was a series) and didn’t really enjoy it and so just became a forgettable experience.

KC Kelly, who is performs the narration for the audio of this series has done an excellent job for the second book. There is nothing really that took away from my enjoyment of the book, it was just so easy to connect with the characters when I started listening to this book.

The characters of the book are Jim Carney and Doctor Ken Tanaka. Jim was actually in book 1, a close ally and now friend to Billy Ballew. In fact, Jim now works for Billy after Billy took the big step to start up his own contracting business. Jim starts the book in a really down position. Being in the closet means that although he has been supportive of Billy, he feels like a liar and begins to revaluate his life as his new job begins to take off. To top it off, he has a tonne of baggage when it comes to his family as well, who he hasn’t seen in years. It just so happens that the doctor’s appointment that he has to attend for the new job leads him to the office of cardiologist Doctor Ken Tanaka.

Ken comes from a very traditional Japanese family. His parents love him and are endlessly proud of his professional accomplishments. In fact, his mother loves him so much and is so traditional, that now she has accepted that her son is gay, he is going to find him a good Japanese boy to marry. Because… well, tradition. But Ken is conflicted when it comes to his attraction to Jim, after all Jim is a patient as well as being a man who is struggling even more than Ken. But the two men, once thrown into each other’s orbit, cannot do anything but get back together.

However, it isn’t all roses. Ken is confused by his feelings for a man who would not pass muster with his parents, no matter how accepting they are. Ken has concerns for Jim’s health. Jim is struggling to become the better man he wanted to become. Jim also has to deal with his estranged family when his little brother arrives on his doorstep, desperate for help from his big brother (the two had never been close, due to their age difference). The guys have a lot of growing to do before the spark between them becomes a blazing fire.

Once again, I’ve loved the in-depth development we see of the MCs, but also love the support and getting to know the secondary characters in this book. I see that one character being in closet is the theme in this series. I don’t think its necessarily a bad thing because all the characters are very different have their reasons for staying in the closet, oh, and there are a lot of blue-collar construction workers. It is only when they fall in love that they realise that they can live in freedom. It’s a really sweet, heart-warming series, with really down to earth characters so far.

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Knight of Ocean Avenue Audio Cover 382yjkTitle: Knight of Ocean Avenue

Series: Love in Laguna 01

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: KC Kelly

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 9 hrs, 33 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (15th July 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: How can you be 25 and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help sup-port his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgment blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz – alias Chase Phillips – a ris-ing-star celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted – stalwart, honest, brave – but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in com-mon find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Knight of Ocean Avenue is the first book in Tara Lain’s series, Love in Laguna. I’m very familiar with the author, although I have to admit I think I may have read one of the books in the series in epub format but I don’t remember at all. Regardless, I was looking forward to starting this series on audio, purely because of the blurb and my previous experience with the author.

Billy Ballew is a huge man, he’s a construction worker, he is everything that is blue collar. However, at the age of twenty five, Billy has only just allowed himself to want someone sexually. Before now sex and attraction has been a non-event for the most part. He was labelled as stupid most of his life and so he simply dropped out of school and began to work hard to make money. He has put all his energy to help his sisters through college. he has become excellent in his work, so much so he’s been urged to get his contractor’s license but is terrified of tests (linking back to his school experience). Billy really does know he isn’t straight, although he has never accepted it and mostly because he fears how his mother would react to his sexuality. For the most part, Billy is happy with his lot in life. Then he meets Shaz.

Shaz, real name Chase Phillips, is an up and coming designer who has become sought after by the rich and famous. He has no questions of who he is what he needs to do. Chase is cool and confident. As soon as he meets Billy there is a brilliant spark, these guys have a great connection and it was lovely to be able to see this spark of attraction develop between the two. At first Chase thinks that Billy is straight, and then after that both Chase and Billy must go on a journey of discovery regarding each other before they can contemplate a HEA.

Chase is interested in Billy as a man, but also in Billy as a person and it was so easy to fall in love with Billy through Chase’s eyes. In saying that, the same is true for Billy and seeing Chase through his eyes.

The narration of this book was performed by KC Kelly. On the whole, I really enjoyed the narration and the thought that Kelly did a wonderful job conveying the emotion from the words. However, the one criticism I have for this was the voice for one of the secondary characters, Ru, whose story is told later in the series. There was something about the tone that I did not like and I hope that it hasn’t been carried over to Ru’s story, because I’m just not sure if I could hear that voice for a major character.

This is a great start to a series. I’m looking forward to getting to the audio of the rest of the series. The main theme being that one of the MCs must come out of the closet so that he can embrace happiness and love. I recommend this to those that like a down to earth romance in an almost tropical locale.

Love You So Special by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Love You So Special Audio Cover 394yl4mTitle: Love You So Special

Series: Love You So 03

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Ry Forest

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 5 hrs, 18 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (24th January 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Can a man’s secret yearnings be revealed in a tank full of fish?

Artie Haynes knows he’s nothing special, with just-your-regular-brown hair, a solid plumber’s job, not much education, and a family that can barely get off the couch. But Artie has quirks – like his love of tropical fish, a landlord who’s a professor of existentialism, a passion for the amazing piano music he hears at a concert hall while he’s fixing the bathrooms – and the fact that he’s never come out as gay and probably never will. But when he’s hired to build a guesthouse for the pianist whose music enchanted him, Artie is swept up into an unimaginable world.

François Desmarais may be famous, rich, and revered as one of the world’s great classical com-posers and pianists, but he’s soothed and challenged by the inquisitive, stalwart, protective man in his back yard. When François’ terrible fear of crowds turns into a dangerous plot, Artie can stay in the closet or prove just how special he is.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Love You So Special is the third book in Tara Lain’s Love You So series. Each book is about a different couple and while the previous characters pop up briefly or mentioned in passing these are standalone stories, completely independent from each other. The one thing that is common between the books in this series is that one main character has either a health condition (epilepsy in book 2) or mental health issues (self esteem issues in book 1 and anxiety in book 3). I haven’t read (or heard) a lot of Tara Lain books but I have loved this series, I’ve loved how the stories have flowed, the sweetness and the love needed to help the MCs heal.

Ry Forest has done an exceptional job narrating this series too. I’ve never heard him perform before I listened to these audios. His softly spoken voice is perfect for capturing the tone and emotion of the MCs as they grow and learn about love, ultimately accepting love in their lives.

In this final instalment we meet Artie Haynes, who is a plumber. He comes from a blue-collar family, using to not having enough money and used to being told that he is nothing special. However, it is clear from the start that Artie is very special and he is as smart as a whip, his biggest problem is that his talents were never nurtured at school. Working at a theatre which is undergoing major repairs, he is drawn by the music of the performers, especially a piano player who disappeared as fast as they appeared.

Artie’s job takes him to the home of the Desmarais family, a mother with her grown son. Francois has crippling anxiety, which is probably made worse by the fact that he is one of the most sought after classical concert pianists. His mother is his manager, organising tours and appearances. Unfortunately, Francois does like the continual performances and his mother is bull-headed when it comes to her son’s career. A chance meeting with the plumber who is fixing up the guest house on his mother’s property where Francois intends to live leads both men on a journey of discovery – about themselves and each other. Things take a dangerous turn when it seems that Francois is in danger from a stalkerish fan.

This is a fast paced romance that manages to stay sweet between all the danger. There is a touch of angst as Francois faces his anxieties and gets the courage to be himself and discover love for the first time.

Love You So Hard by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Love You So Hard Audio Cover 316f3vbTitle: Love You So Hard

Series: Love You So 01

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Ry Forest

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 2 hrs, 55 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (17th July 2018)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Craig Elson’s life has hit rock bottom. Even though he’s one of the best strategic planners around, a more confident guy takes credit for his work, and despite being a good-looking man, he suffers insults from the slimiest creep at the bar. Taking care of his beloved mom, who has

Alzheimer’s, uses all his funds, leaving him in a plain, depressing car…and a plain, depressing life.
Until he sees gorgeous grad student Jesse Randall and his T-shirt that reads “I Would Bottom You So Hard”. The message seeps into Craig’s soul, and he asks Jesse to teach him to top.

Jesse’s had his eye on the quiet hottie who comes into the coffee shop, and he’s more than eager to perfect his tutoring. He sets out to get Craig a new job, a new apartment, and a new life so far outside plain and depressing that it’s unrecognizable. The problem is, Craig loves his les-sons – and his teacher – too much to want to graduate. How can Craig reach the top without los-ing his sassy bottom?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Love You So Hard is the first book in Tara Lain’s Love You So, series. It is a really nice, relatively short audiobook that is totally sweet. I’ve enjoyed Tara Lain’s writing in the past, including the second book in this series. So it goes without saying, it’s OK to listen to this out of order, you don’t get any spoilers of what happened in book 2 about book 1 other than seeing the two guys together.

Craig Elson works hard. He prides himself on his work as a strategic planner and is expecting a big promotion at work. His mother is in a care home due to the Alzheimer’s taking her memories away from Craig. The highlight of his day is going to the coffee shop and seeing the hot guy who wears the shirt that says “I’d Bottom You So Hard”. But when his boss takes credit for his, gets the promotion that Craig was looking to get, Craig just hits a wall and decides to take a vacation to figure out his next step.

This is where Jesse steps in. Jesse, he’s writing his PhD thesis and teaching at the college and happens to be the guy who wears the shirt that intrigues Craig so much. It just so happens that he is as curious about Craig as Craig is about he. They get to talking and strike a deal – Jesse is going to become Craig’s tutor to help him get his life together and find a better job.

What I love about this the most is the simplicity of the story. What we get as the reader/listener is a beautiful romance as two men unwittingly get involved and transform each other’s lives.

The one thing I am going to whinge about, and it’s honestly nothing bad about the book or the narration, just the simple fact that I cannot stand how Americans pronounce Craig (i.e. “kreg” instead of “krayg”).

Love You So Madly by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Title: Love You So Madly

Series: Love You So 02

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Ry Forrest

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 4 hrs 36 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (14th September 2018)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖 3 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Ben Shane has it all…and he’d like to give some of it back. While he loves his job heading a foundation that funds worthy causes around the world, his engagement to one of America’s wealthiest men leaves him feeling more like a trophy wife than a valued partner. The first warn-ing that his relationship might not be designed to last is his irresistible lust for Dusty Kincaid, the golden-haired, bright-eyed handyman for his company.

Though Dusty is odd for a 23-year-old – no liquor, no sugar, and he can’t even drive – the more Ben gets to know Dusty, the more he admires him. But is Ben going to give up a guy who drives a Ferrari for one who takes the bus?

He must be mad. Dusty knows he and Ben can never work. After all, Ben’s perfect…and Dusty isn’t. But Ben might surprise everyone with proof that he’s only mad in love.

Purchase Link:  Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Love You So Madly is the second book in Tara Lain’s Love You So series. Tara Lain is an author that I now look forward to reading (or listening). Ry Forrest is a new narrator for me and I have to say that I quite enjoyed the performance. I don’t think that there was anything standout about the performance, I just simply enjoyed the tone and emotion present in Forrest’s voice and it certainly helped me enjoy the story.

As I just said this is the second book in the series, however, it does work as a standalone. I’ve not read (or don’t remember) the first book in the Love You So series, but I had no problem whatsoever with understanding the plot and I don’t even know if I bothered to figure out if we got to meet the couple from the first book.

The story starts with Ben Shane. He seems to have it all. The job of his dreams, heading the charitable foundation arm of big corporation, his job made him happy and he also had a man for himself, who also happens to be the big boss’s son. His new engagement is bringing him a lot of valuable business contacts, though his in laws and fiancé left a lot to be desired since they didn’t nurture the good and kind side of Ben. In short, we start the story knowing that Ben isn’t entirely happy, the man just must figure out what he needs to do to get his life back on track. And it just so happens that this book is just that journey.

Then there is Dusty. He is a sweet guy. He’s twenty-three and still lives with his overprotective mother because of his ongoing health issues associated with his epilepsy. Dusty has a completely different outlook on life and he seems so innocent. However, Dusty is very intelligent, he’s just shy and his health had meant that he had been left a little behind. Dusty is instantly attracted to Ben and Ben knows its wrong to be attracted to Dusty. The two of them seem to need different things in life but they get along well and they are well suited to each other.

The only thing that I struggled with throughout this is story is that I felt that Ben was stringing both douchey fiancé (and he was a selfish man, there is no denying) and kind, sweet Dusty along while he tried to get his shit together. Although, in the end, that is really the story I suppose.

Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Title: The Return of the Chauffeur’s Son

Title: Movie Magic Romances 01

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 6 hrs, 28 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (28th September 2017)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Luca McGrath may be returning to Napa Valley, California, as a promising chef with dreams of starting his own restaurant and winery, but his heart still lives with the bad-boy son of a billion-aire James Armstrong. Luca spent his childhood playing games with the golden boy of California society, so blinded by James he barely noticed the dark, quiet lure of his conservative older brother, Dylan Armstrong.

But now Luca’s home, and his own powers of attraction are enough to make James question his dedicated heterosexuality and his promised marriage to a wealthy and powerful businesswoman. The obvious attraction between Luca and James spurs Dylan into action – but he’s fighting a huge secret. While Luca dreamed of James, Dylan dreamed of Luca. When Luca gets caught in the struggle between the brothers and gets accused of culinary espionage, he’s ready to chuck the fairy tale – unable to even imagine Dylan’s power to make his dreams come true.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: The Return of the Chauffeur’s Son is a standalone book by Tara Lain. Tara Lain is a great author and is so close to becoming a new automatic read for me. It’s sweet and charming and had me engrossed from start to finish. It’s one of those books that I think just about anyone could listen or read this book and enjoy their escape from reality.

The title of the book says it all really. Luca McGrath was raised in Napa Valley by his father after the death of his mother. Luca grew up on the Armstrong winery estate where his father was the family chauffeur and the Armstrong family were kind enough to all Luca to live with his father on the family estate instead of losing their trusted employee. As a result, Luca grew up alongside Armstrong boys, more so James who is Luca’s best friend and Luca’s first crush. He leaves the estate for some years as he makes his way in a culinary whiz, which leads him back to Napa Valley where he can work for some of the most prestigious chefs.

And while he has been pining away for James, he then realises that he quite missed something when it comes to James’ older brother, Dylan. Luca’s homecoming is joyous but things are complicated when it comes to the Armstrong brothers. Dylan is helping Luca with just about everything but doesn’t know how to communicate his feelings. He is the strong and stoic type. While James is a playboy, who is now engaged and seems keen to now suddenly explore his sexuality. Dylan is frustrated because he is attracted to Luca, but his parents are dismissing James’ behaviour as James continued hero worship of his out and proud, gay older brother.

There’s something of a love triangle going on and the story is predictable, however, it is still completely enjoyable. So much fun and so damn romantic!

Overall, this is a fun, sweet and sexy novel that shows us that sometimes a HEA is right in front of us and with the person least expected. I’m quite familiar with Greg Tremblay’s narration and it hit the mark in terms of tone of and giving voice to the two MCs.

Never by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Title: Never

Series: Pennymaker Tales 04

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Kale Williams

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 6 hrs, 41 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (27th March 2018)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Blurb: Wendell “Wen” Darling lives in a world of shoulds and musts. Left to care for his brother and sister by his dull drudge of a father and wacko irresponsible mother, he suppresses his creativity, slaving in an ad agency 70 hours a week, letting his no-talent supervisor take the credit.

Then his bosses blow the campaign for their biggest client and Wen gets a chance to shine – but only if he can find the artist who painted a wild, glorious wall of graffiti in the subway. Hiding behind a pillar at 2:00 a.m., Wen comes face-to-face with the scarlet-haired, elven-faced embodiment of his divergent opposite – Peter Panachek, the flighty, live-for-today painter, singer, and leader of the rock group the Lost Boys.

Everything Wen takes seriously, Peter laughs off, but opposites attract, even if their kisses always lead to battles. Peter’s devil-may-care persona hides a world of secrets, self-protection, and hidden fears, until the day a drug dealer, Vadon Hooker, threatens everything Wen holds dear. Guided by the mysterious Mr. Pennymaker, Peter has to choose between facing responsibility or burrowing even deeper into Neverland.

Product Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: I started listening to the audiobook of Never with mixed feelings. I really do like Tara Lain’s writing and have adored all three previous books in the Pennymaker Tales series. However, I recently had problems and just couldn’t connect to and finish two of Lain’s books in Dreamspun Beyond, so I had worried that perhaps either the author’s writing had changed or there had been a subtle change in what I like to read personally. I mean, the latter can happen at any time and has nothing to do with the author of any book.

As for the series itself I really love the concept. It is a contemporary story set against the background of well-known fairytales (ie Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan). There is also something of an urban fantasy element in the language used by Lain for one minor character who is the essence of the entire series, helping the couples to find each other, Carstairs Pennymaker.

As I said, I love all three previous points and I have to say that I was not disappointed with the fourth book, I adored Never. Lain has created a very quirky but relatable and fun world in this story that really did border into urban fantasy. The audio narration by Kale Williams was also fantastic, his naturally soft voice suited both MCs.

Never is the story of Wendell “Wen” Darling and the mysterious Peter Panachek – see the Peter Pan references rush in now. There’s a Hook[er], a Schmee, Tinkerbelle, The Lost Boys and even Neverland. However, being a Blackadder fan, jokes made about Wen’s surname also make me think of Blackadder Goes Forth with Captain Darling, named exactly for the purpose of these jokes. Being that this was based on Peter Pan there are some clear parallels in the plot line of both stories.

Additionally, those that grew up loving the movie Hook will probably find it easier to relate to the modern setting of the movie and reconciling it with the book.

Wen is a struggling advertising worker. He works crazy hours just to keep a shabby roof over the heads of himself, his eleven-year-old brother and sixteen-year-old sister. Wen is in a lot of trouble at work when his job is left on the line after a lazy manager verges on losing the ad agency one of their biggest clients after giving a stale idea for the campaign. Wen’s boss gives him a chance to make it up and it leads Wen on a crazy ride, leading him to Peter Panachek. Wen and Peter are very difficult, yet at the same time with a mysterious past its clear that Peter really isn’t all that dissimilar to Wen. Peter has a bit of a hero complex and despite being afraid that he will be found by his family after running away two years ago, he will help Wen so that he doesn’t lose his job and become unable to feed his siblings.

Both Wen come with a tonne of baggage. Peter doesn’t like the stodgy world that Wen lives in and thinks that he acts like an old man. While, on the other hand, Wen thinks that Peter is too irresponsible and vague, reminding Wen and his siblings of their absent mother.

And, of course, there is the enigmatic Carstairs Pennymaker. A seemingly rich entrepreneur who is ready to help save the day and make sure the couples find a way to see that they truly belong together. This character injects a sense of whimsy that irresistible, albeit you may need to suspend your disbelief just for moment to believe in him.

Cataclysmic Shift by Tara Lain (2nd Edition)

Title: Cataclysmic Shift, (2nd Edition)

Series: The Aloysius Tales 03

Author: Tara Lain

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy

Length: Novel (200 Pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 13, 2017)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts

Blurb: Aloysius, the magical black cat and powerful witch’s familiar, isn’t afraid to go into battle to protect his master, but the outcome of the fight turns his feline world upside down. A direct hit of magic steals not only his memories and power, but even the body he’s lived in for several centuries. When he wakes up naked on the floor of a veterinarian’s office, it isn’t as the cat Aloysius, but as the sixteenth-century French gentleman Alain Bellarose. And when Alain sees sexy and enigmatic veterinarian Luke Elliott, he decides he’ll make the best of his time as a human.

Luke is a man with secrets who generally prefers the company of animals—though the flamboyant boy who washes his face with the side of his hand and tries to lick his own privates might prove an exception.

Meanwhile, Witch Master Killian Barth and his secret weapon, Sammy, struggle without Aloysius’s power to draw on. Two evil females are circling, and seeing the coven’s weakness, they’re about to move in for the kill. When Alain’s memories return, he’s faced with the ultimate dilemma: protect his community or stay with the man he loves.

ISBN: 978-1-63533-543-9

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Lisa

Review: Aloysius is a beautiful and very powerful familiar to an amazing witch. He would do everything to protect those he loves. Then a evil witch’s hit knocked him out. Killian and Blaine rush him to a nearby vet only to loose him. Well I wouldn’t say he was lost, he was hiding in the closet. Not only was he hiding but he was also human and had no clue to who he was. However there were instances where he felt like he would. The good news is the vet was one hell of a sexy man.

Luke had grown up with a mother who thought she was a witch but of course no young man would believe. He was about to get his eyes opened wide for he has found himself falling in love with a man who had also been a cat.

With the man looking for Luke and the two witches going for the coven, it would seem that they were in need to have the cat back. This story has one hell of a twist to it. Aloysius as a cat and Alain as a human, he has no memory of his past. However his past is quite unique as it is. And Luke doesn’t want to remember his own past. Alain has fallen in love with Luke but by staying human it could cost Killian and his coven their lives. Hard to figure out which way to go.

Excitement, danger, sexy times, magic and great friends are just a hint of what comes in this story. It is an amazing journey and I can’t wait to read the next book. It gave me everything I could want in a story and so much more.

I would definitely recommend this book.

The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean by Tara Lain Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Tara Lain - The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean Banner

Hi guys! We have Tara Lain popping in today with the tour for her upcoming release The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean, we have a great guest post from Tara, a fantastic excerpt and a brilliant $10 Amazon GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~

The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean

(Middlemark Mystery 01)

Tara Lain

Dr. Llewellyn Lewis leads a double life, as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and the more flamboyant Ramon Rondell, infamous writer of sensational historical theories. It’s Ramon who first sets eyes on a gorgeous young man dancing in a club, but Llewellyn who meets teaching assistant Blaise Arthur formally at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford-who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim, even though many have tried and failed. And she’s willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds.

It also means a chance for Llewellyn to get to know Blaise much better.

Not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case-or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work… and one of them is willing to kill to do it.

When Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise…

Release date: 31st July 2018
Pre-order: Dreamspinner Press | B&N | iTunes | Booksamillion | Kobo
paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Continue reading “The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean by Tara Lain Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!”

Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain

Title: Return of the Chauffeur’s Son

Author: Tara Lain

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (204pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (2nd June 2017)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 4 Hearts

Blurb: Luca McGrath may be returning to Napa Valley, California as a promising chef with dreams of starting his own restaurant and winery, but his heart still lives with bad-boy billionaire’s son, James Armstrong. Luca spent his childhood playing games with the golden boy of California society, so blinded by James he barely noticed the dark, quiet lure of his conservative older brother, Dylan Armstrong.

But now, Luca’s home and his own powers of attraction are enough to make James question his dedicated heterosexuality and his promised marriage to a wealthy and powerful businesswoman. The obvious attraction between Luca and James spurs Dylan into action—but he’s fighting a huge secret. While Luca dreamed of James, Dylan dreamed of Luca. When Luca gets caught in the struggle between the brothers and gets accused of culinary espionage he’s ready to chuck the fairy tale—unable to even imagine Dylan’s power to make his dreams come true.

ASIN: 978-1-63533-478-4

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Reviewer: Veronica

Review:  Luca McGrath is the chauffeur’s son and he’s been away from his home in Napa Valley for about 8 years. He left to study culinary arts in Paris and then he made a name for himself in New York as a renowned Chef. He’s returned home now to a job offer at a prestigious restaurant. Until he finds his own place, he’ll be staying with his father at the Armstrong Estate. From the time they were boys, Luca considered James a very good friend, but from the moment Luca discovered his sexuality, he’s had secret crush on James, so when he returned to his hometown, and heard that James was engaged to be married, he was devastated. James, however, when he saw Luca and found out that he’s gay, has proclaimed himself as bi-sexual, and wants a relationship with Luca, although he’s about to be married to beautiful lady, that will join both powerful families together.

Dylan, who runs the family business, and James’ older brother, realized what James is doing; he tries his best to separate Luca and James from making the biggest mistake of their lives, and to keep both families from being hurt from the fallout, if James gets his way. Although there’s a big age gap between Luca and Dylan, I was excited to read their story, from the friends to lovers’ storyline. At first I didn’t think that they would ever get together, especially with all the misunderstanding moments, and the interference from James. Dylan doesn’t expect to fall for Luca, and Luca doesn’t expect to be the center of attention between the two brothers, especially when he realizes that he’s also developing feelings for Dylan. At the restaurant where Luca works, he’s accused of culinary espionage and fired, Dylan steps in and does everything that he can to clear Luca’s name, and to claim the man, that he’s come to love.

Another great story from this author, and would recommend to anyone.