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.

Sinders and Ash by Tara Lain ~ Audiobook

Tara Lain - Sinders and Ash Cover AudioTitle: Sinders and Ash

Series:  Pennymaker Tales 1

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Kale Williams

Genre: Contemporary, Urban Fantasy

Length: 4 hrs, 52 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (29th February 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Housekeeper Mark Sintorella (Sinders) works diligently at a resort hotel while designing clothes anonymously, hoping to get into fashion school. Then his carefully planned life is upended with the arrival of Ashton Armitage, son of the fifth richest man in America – and the most beautiful guy Mark has ever seen. Ash must find a wife or he’ll lose his grandfather’s inheritance, and he settles on Bitsy Fanderel. But secretly Ash is gay, and the guy who cleans the fireplaces sets his heart ablaze.

Further stirring the pot is the little elf of a man, Carstairs Pennymaker, who has Mark wearing his own designs and masquerading as a girl to impress the fashion investors in the hotel. When the clock strikes 12, two beautiful princesses line up for the wedding – but one isn’t a woman. Will the slipper fit? Only Mr. Pennymaker knows for sure.

Product Link: Audible US |  Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Sinders and Ash is, as you can tell from the title, a modern reimagining of the Cinderella. I was totally and completely charmed by this story. I loved it all, from the actual storyline, to the characters and the excellent narration by Kale Williams, who brought every emotion to life fantastically.

Mark Sintorella (Sinders) is a poor housekeeper who does his best to keep his head down and not make any waves at the resort he works at. He’s had a hard life mainly because he was rejected by his family for being gay. Now at the resort his bosses are not kind to him, a sleazy cook constantly hits on him and other workers who whisper words about him behind his back. Everything changes for him when he meets mysterious guest, Carstairs Pennymaker, which also happens to be the day that he meets the son of one of the richest men in the country, Ashton Armitage.

I suppose there are a number of aspects of this story which force you to suspend your disbelief for the entirety of the book. I think the biggest one for me to wrap my head around was Mark’s continuing to appaear as a female when dressing in the clothes he makes – which are, like in any fairytale, are runway worthy, I think. I think it just got to the point where at the end I was thinking “why?”

All in all, I loved this fairytale of poor boy meets rich boy and they fall in love. Carstairs Pennymaker, the whimsical elven guy (seriously, wtf is he??) is as lovable as the two main characters. A real satisfying read and I can’t wait to get to book 2!

Driven Snow by Tara Lain ~ Audiobook

Tara Lain - Driven Snow Cover AudioTitle: Driven Snow

Series:  Pennymaker Tales 2

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Kale Williams

Genre: Contemporary, Urban Fantasy

Length: 6 hr, 45 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (23rd June 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Young Snowden “Snow” Reynaldi is brilliant, beautiful, and alone. Though he’s shy, weird, and tolerated by the NorCal University students because he’s a renowned whiz at chess and helps put the school on the map, that doesn’t keep him from dreaming of the object of his desires: Riley Prince, championship quarterback.

When Riley needs a physics tutor, Snow jumps at the chance, and their relationship heats up – but Riley has to come out of the jock closet to get anywhere. Meanwhile, Snow’s one true friend and mentor, Professor Kingsley, marries a woman who secretly wants the chess tournament glory and money for herself. Soon after, the professor collapses and Snow finds himself underwater – literally. In a car!

Seven frat brothers from Grimm College rescue Snow just in time for his life to get even worse, and Snow discovers the one relationship he always wanted slipping away. With evil looming at every turn, Snow must survive if only to prove he’s the fairest of them all and regain the trust of his handsome prince.

Product Link: Audible US |  Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Everything about Driven Snow is absolutely awesome! This is a reimagining of the Snow White fairytale, so luckily you don’t need to read book 1 (based on Cinderella) to get all the characters. Once again the narration by Kale Williams just tops off a most wonderful and whimsical tale which takes us into the world of college and grand chess masters.

Snowden Reynaldi, aka Snow, is a champion chess player and a feather in the cap to his college because he is basically unbeatable. He’s shy and super smart and basically the type of nerd everyone can love, especially if you can relate to him. His Prince Charming is the popular jock, Riley Prince. The problem being for any romance is that Riley is deep inside the closet. With a beloved teacher/chess mentor/father figure in addition to a conniving witch who doesn’t want Snow to succeed at the chess championships, all our players are in place.

Well most of them – after all the traditional story is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. I have to admit, I was really curious about how this part was going to play out, although the blurb does tell us it’s seven frat brothers from nearby Grimm College but that was only enough information to pique my curiosity. Plus, you know, that whole glass coffin thing – I was really wondering if there was more to that too than we see in the blurb. I have to say that I loved the frat guys, they were all funny and at one point they definitely had more brains than Prince Charming!

Of course being a Pennymaker tale, I was looking forward to the appearance of the fairy godfather elven man himself (I still don’t know what he is). He isn’t in the story as much as I would have liked but he definitely has a helper in the guise of Riley’s friendly neighbor, a kind old lady who is something of a fairy godmother. And now I want to get into book 3 because I am totally charmed by the worlds that Tara Lain has woven using the modern world and fairytales!

Sinders and Ash and Beauty, Inc. by Tara Lain (Paperback)

tara-lain-sinders-and-ash-and-beauty-inc-coverTitle: Sinders and Ash and Beauty, Inc.

Series: A Pennymaker Duet

Author: Tara Lain

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 2x Novella’s (310 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (9th November 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 4 1/2 – 5 Hearts

Blurb:  Sinders and Ash

In an upscale resort, housekeeper Mark “Sinders” Sintorella works hard to save money for fashion school, but one look at Ashton Armitage, son of one of the wealthiest men in America, turns his world upside down. Ash is at the hotel to find a wife or lose his inheritance. Though he’s secretly gay, he’s wildly attracted to a beautiful, mysterious girl—not realizing she’s actually Mark wearing his own designs to impress investors of Mr. Pennymaker. When the clock strikes twelve, two beautiful princesses line up for the wedding, but whom will the slipper fit?

First Edition of Sinders and Ash published by Amber Quill Press, 2012.

Beauty, Inc.

Chemist Dr. Robert “Belle” Belleterre dedicates himself to developing a new product to help put his father’s small cosmetics company on the map. Sadly his alcoholic, gambling-addicted father loses Belle in a poker game to Magnus Strong, the CEO of Beauty, Inc.—a man infamous for his scarred ugliness. Belle is uprooted from his home, living in a crazy apartment owned by Mr. Pennymaker, and completely unprepared for his attraction to Strong. Belle fights his passion, but Strong’s scars hide goodness and humility. When Belle’s family starts manipulating his life again, the odds turn against happiness for beautiful Belle and his beloved beast.

ISBN: 978-1-63477-835-0

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sinders-and-ash-and-beauty-inc-by-tara-lain-7748-b

Reviewers: Portia & Lisa

Portia’s Review: ♥♥♥♥♥ 4.5 Hearts Sinders and Ash

I have stated publicly that I am Tara Lain’s biggest fan, and lovely reads like Sinders & Ash are why.

Mark is ambitious. He knows he wants to work in high fashion, and his job at the resort gives him the opportunity to save most of his salary and a quiet space to work on his designs.

Love is not on his agenda.

For that matter, it’s not on Ash’s either. He just needs a nice woman to marry him, so he can inherit his grandfather’s money. Money that he plans on putting to very good use…as soon as the marriage certificate buys him more money than he could hope to earn in this lifetime.

Enter Mr. Pennymaker. Gawd. What I wouldn’t have done to have this little man in my corner thirty years ago. Hell, if he retires, I wouldn’t mind taking over his job. Unlike over at Disney, Mr. Pennymaker does his magic without fairy dust or a wand. He somehow knows the desires of a person’s heart and finds ways to make that happen.

I loved every thing about this book. The plotting is sharp. The dialogue is crisp and the in-laws are meddling. Oh. And the boys do find time to get in a bit of sheet time, which is oh, so hot!

If you haven’t read any of Tara’s work, you are missing out on a gem of MM romance. Fans of Amy Lane and Andrew Grey will appreciate both her contemporary and paranormal titles. Happily Ever Afters are guaranteed.

Highly recommend.

Lisa’s Review: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts Beauty Inc.

When I first started reading this I did not even connect it to the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast”. Actually I admit it, it didn’t connect till after I read the story. I have not really read any stories by this author, so you can imagine my surprise. This was one of the most beautiful stories that I have ever read. There is a touch of humor in it that was quite pleasant but most of the story has a serious tone to it. 

It is not very often that an author takes me by surprises, but Tara Lain has found a spot in my heart. She gives her readers sexy men who have a hard story to tell. In this one, it is about their loved ones and friends who are battling cancer. The heart ache that it felt can actually be felt by the readers. I loved the pace to this story; it came off perfect to me. The story might not be long, but there was so much meat to it that surprised me. Small packages can hold such sweet dynamite surprises in them.

Belle’s family are not what I would call family. He is a sweet young man who is brilliant when it comes to work. He is a scientist and helps make beauty creams that are perfect for women. His dad is an alcoholic who gambles, whereas his brothers are just asses. They own a beauty company but their dad is gambling the money away. Then he committed the worst crime, he lost all of his stock and turned around and gave Belle away to their biggest competitor. 

Magnus lost his mother not to her cancer, but to a car accident. The same car accident that scarred his face. He felt guilty and felt that he deserved what had happened to him. He gave so much to charity and helped women who were in need. He had seen Belle and wanted him in more ways than one. So he made a big gamble to get what he wanted. He just had not expected Belle to want him, the way he wanted him. 

This move took Belle away from his family, away from Oregon and away from his best friend. Despite his fears and reservations he starts to love where he was living. Not always does a job come with not only his own driver but an apartment that has not only beautiful atrium but amazing people. However he is pulled in two directions. His father wants him to still help his company, while Belle doesn’t want to cause issues with his new job. Now he has to deal with his feelings for his boss and a very jealous man who has it out for him. Drama just seems to keep coming for him.

I loved the twists that this story seems to have. Which as I have already admitted, I didn’t realize the theme. I loved how Magnus has a heart of gold and a sparkling personality. He was amazing and so was Belle. I even loved how they interacted with everyone. I had not had a chance to read the first two books in this series, but nothing was missing at all.

I absolutely loved this story and cannot wait to read the next story. What an amazing job this author has done with this book.

Beauty, Inc. by Tara Lain

Tara Lain - Beauty Inc CoverTitle: Beauty, Inc.

Series: The Pennymaker Tales #3

Author: Tara Lain

Genre: Gay Erotic Romance, Contemporary

Length: Novella (121 Pages) 

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 8, 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate 

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts 

Blurb: Is beauty only skin deep?

Chemist Dr. Robert “Belle” Belleterre loves flowers, green trees, his best friend Judy, and “his baby”: the new face cream he developed to help put his father’s small cosmetics company on the map. Sadly he gets no help from his alcoholic, gambling-addicted father who loses Belle in a poker game to Magnus Strong, the CEO of Beauty, Inc. the largest American cosmetics company—a man infamous for his scarred ugliness.

Belle finds himself uprooted from his home, living in a wildly crazy apartment in New York owned by Mr. Pennymaker, and completely unprepared for his mad attraction to the charismatic Strong. Feeling like a traitor, Belle fights his passion only to see more and more of the goodness and humility hidden by Strong’s ugly face. But when Belle’s family starts manipulating his life again, the odds turn against happiness for beautiful Belle and his beloved beast. 

ISBN: 978-1-62380-890-7 

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/beauty-inc-by-tara-lain-7042-b

Reviewer: Lisa

Review: When I first started reading this I did not even connect it to the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast”. Actually I admit it, it didn’t connect till after I read the story. I have not really read any stories by this author, so you can imagine my surprise. This was one of the most beautiful stories that I have ever read. There is a touch of humor in it that was quite pleasant but most of the story has a serious tone to it. 

It is not very often that an author takes me by surprises, but Tara Lain has found a spot in my heart. She gives her readers sexy men who have a hard story to tell. In this one, it is about their loved ones and friends who are battling cancer. The heart ache that it felt can actually be felt by the readers. I loved the pace to this story; it came off perfect to me. The story might not be long, but there was so much meat to it that surprised me. Small packages can hold such sweet dynamite surprises in them.

Belle’s family are not what I would call family. He is a sweet young man who is brilliant when it comes to work. He is a scientist and helps make beauty creams that are perfect for women. His dad is an alcoholic who gambles, whereas his brothers are just asses. They own a beauty company but their dad is gambling the money away. Then he committed the worst crime, he lost all of his stock and turned around and gave Belle away to their biggest competitor. 

Magnus lost his mother not to her cancer, but to a car accident. The same car accident that scarred his face. He felt guilty and felt that he deserved what had happened to him. He gave so much to charity and helped women who were in need. He had seen Belle and wanted him in more ways than one. So he made a big gamble to get what he wanted. He just had not expected Belle to want him, the way he wanted him. 

This move took Belle away from his family, away from Oregon and away from his best friend. Despite his fears and reservations he starts to love where he was living. Not always does a job come with not only his own driver but an apartment that has not only beautiful atrium but amazing people. However he is pulled in two directions. His father wants him to still help his company, while Belle doesn’t want to cause issues with his new job. Now he has to deal with his feelings for his boss and a very jealous man who has it out for him. Drama just seems to keep coming for him.

I loved the twists that this story seems to have. Which as I have already admitted, I didn’t realize the theme. I loved how Magnus has a heart of gold and a sparkling personality. He was amazing and so was Belle. I even loved how they interacted with everyone. I had not had a chance to read the first two books in this series, but nothing was missing at all.

I absolutely loved this story and cannot wait to read the next story. What an amazing job this author has done with this book.

Driven Snow by Tara Lain

Tara Lain - Driven Snow CoverTitle: Driven Snow

Series: The Pennymaker Tales #2

Author: Tara Lain

Genre: Gay Erotic Romance, Contemporary

Length: Novel (210 Pages) 

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (November 25, 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate 

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts 

Blurb: Young Snowden “Snow” Reynaldi is brilliant, beautiful, and alone. Though he’s shy, weird, and tolerated by the NorCal University students because he’s a renowned whiz at chess and helps put the school on the map, that doesn’t keep him from dreaming of the object of his desires: Riley Prince, championship quarterback.

When Riley needs a physics tutor, Snow jumps at the chance, and their relationship heats up—but Riley has to come out of the jock closet to get anywhere. Meanwhile, Snow’s one true friend and mentor, Professor Kingsley, marries a woman who secretly wants the chess tournament glory and money for herself. Soon after, the professor collapses and Snow finds himself underwater—literally. In a car!

Seven frat brothers from Grimm College rescue Snow just in time for his life to get even worse, and Snow discovers the one relationship he always wanted slipping away. With evil looming at every turn, Snow must survive if only to prove he’s the fairest of them all and regain the trust of his handsome prince.

ISBN: 978-1-63476-267-0 

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/driven-snow-by-tara-lain-5268-b

Reviewer: Lisa

Review: When I first started reading this I did not even connect it to ‘Snow White’, actually I admit it, and it didn’t connect till after I read the story. I have not really read any stories by this author, so you can imagine my surprise. This was one of the most beautiful stories that I have ever read. There is a touch of humor in it that was quite pleasant but most of the story has a serious tone to it. 

It is not very often that an author takes me by surprises, but Tara Lain has found a spot in my heart. She gives her readers sexy men who have a hard story to tell. In this one, it is about their loved ones and friends who battle jealousy and greed. The heart ache that it felt can actually be felt by the readers. I loved the pace to this story; it came off perfect to me. 

I loved how this story was full of amazing characters and our very own fairy godparents were a big hit for me. You also have the evil villains who are always trying to overthrow our heroes. I also did not think chess would be so interesting and so costly. The humor was a big hit for me, but the serious tone made the story just so damn fun. The characters were fully developed and it felt like I knew them all.

Snow is a sexy young man who is not only one of the smartest men that I know but is a master at chess. He has a game that would be the biggest win of his life, if someone wasn’t trying to kill him. He lost his parents when he was but a small child, raised by his grandmother who also passed on, he was always alone. The only one he could call family was his chess mentor. That is until he is asked to tutor the one man that makes his toes curl.

Riley is the star of football and pretty damn smart on his own. He only has problems in one class, and he needs someone to help him. He has one secret that he has hidden from almost everyone. However he has wanted Snow from the first time he had seen him and he now has a chance to make the man his. 

This story unfolded perfectly for me and the characters were beautiful and strong. I loved the suspense you get from it as well as the excitement and drama. This story kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know more. 

I loved this and can’t wait to read more from this author. I loved the twists that this story seems to have. Which, as I have already admitted I didn’t realize the theme. I absolutely loved this story and cannot wait to read the next story. What an amazing job this author has done with this book. 

If you love fairy-tales, sweet stories, and some amazing heat, plus excitement, danger and suspense then this story will be for you.

Sinders & Ash by Tara Lain

SindersAndAshLGTitle: Sinders & Ash, 2nd edition
Series: A Pennymaker Tale
Author: Tara Lain
Genre: Modern Fairy Tale
Length: Novella (145 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 14th, 2015)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4.5 Hearts
Blurb: Housekeeper Mark Sintorella (Sinders) works diligently at a resort hotel while designing clothes anonymously, hoping to get into fashion school.

Then his carefully planned life is upended with the arrival of Ashton Armitage, son of the fifth richest man in America—and the most beautiful guy Mark has ever seen. Ash must find a wife or he’ll lose his grandfather’s inheritance, and he settles on Bitsy Fanderel. But secretly Ash is gay, and the guy who cleans the fireplaces sets his heart ablaze.

Further stirring the pot is the little elf of a man, Carstairs Pennymaker, who has Mark wearing his own designs and masquerading as a girl to impress the fashion investors in the hotel. When the clock strikes twelve, two beautiful princesses line up for the wedding—but one isn’t a woman.

Will the slipper fit?

Only Mr. Pennymaker knows for sure.

First Edition published by Amber Quill Press, LLC, 2012.

ISBN: 978-1-63476-266-3

Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6906

Reviewer: Portia

Review: I have stated publicly that I am Tara Lain’s biggest fan, and lovely reads like Sinder & Ash are why.

Mark is ambitious. He knows he wants to work in high fashion, and his job at the resort gives him the opportunity to save most of his salary and a quiet space to work on his designs.

Love is not on his agenda.

For that matter, it’s not on Ash’s either. He just needs a nice woman to marry him, so he can inherit his grandfather’s money. Money that he plans on putting to very good use…as soon as the marriage certificate buys him more money than he could hope to earn in this lifetime.

Enter Mr. Pennymaker. Gawd. What I wouldn’t have done to have this little man in my corner thirty years ago. Hell, if he retires, I wouldn’t mind taking over his job. Unlike over at Disney, Mr. Pennymaker does his magic without fairy dust or a wand. He somehow knows the desires of a person’s heart and finds ways to make that happen.

I loved every thing about this book. The plotting is sharp. The dialogue is crisp and the in-laws are meddling. Oh. And the boys do find time to get in a bit of sheet time, which is oh, so hot!

If you haven’t read any of Tara’s work, you are missing out on a gem of MM romance. Fans of Amy Lane and Andrew Grey will appreciate both her contemporary and paranormal titles. Happily Ever Afters are guaranteed.

Highly recommend.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *