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.

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.