Title: Knight of Ocean Avenue
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
How can you be twenty-five 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 support 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—Chase Phillips—a rising-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 common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?
Knight of Ocean Avenue is one of the stories in Ms. Lain’s series, A Love in Laguna. This contemporary novel is sure to pull you in from the beginning and hold your interest until the last page. The main characters are both extremely interesting, and yet so different that you would not think that they have enough in common to make it as a couple.
Billy has had to help take care of his family. That means leaving school at an early age and going to work. He’s tried to make an easy live for himself but has been unable to find the person of his dreams. Worried about pleasing his parents, especially his mother, Billy keeps looking, denying what he really wants.
Shaz is THE stylist to go to. He is at the top of his game and the last thing he is looking for is some in the closet construction worker, not matter how gorgeous he may be. Then there is the fact that, for all intents and purpose, Shaz is already in a relationship no matter how screwed up. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and soon neither man wants to give up on what they may be able to find together.
I really liked both characters a lot; however, Billy is the one that held my attention the most. For such a young man he has already given up a lot in his life for his family. Rather than making him strong though, it has left him with a bit of low self-esteem. I really felt for him when it came to his parents, especially his mother who I wanted to snap at more than once because of the way she acted.
Shaz is the complete opposite of Billy. For one Billy is a hard working construction worker while Shaz is an up and coming stylist who can count celebrities among his clients. For another, while Billy is so far in denial he won’t even admit he’s gay to himself, while Shaz is an over the top out and proud gay man who has no plans of ever going into the closet. I liked that Shaz does not make any apologies for who he is.
There is a lot of chemistry between these two men, but that does not mean their relationship will come together smoothly. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, especially on Billy’s side. I like the way Shaz stands by him though and shows him that there is nothing wrong with the way they feel about each other.
While in no way a mystery, there are some little twists in this story that will surprise the reader. One of the biggest surprises, for me at least, was Billy’s sister. She really has her work cut out for her. The best part of the story however has to be the way Billy’s co-workers stand by him once they find out he is gay. I really did not expect that to happen.
I have read a couple of other stories by this author and love her writing style. I think she is a great author to add to any reading list, and if you have not tried the M/M genre and are thinking of picking up a story her books would make a great introduction to the genre.
Reviewed by: Lydia
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