Lydia Reviews: Love Wanted by John Inman


TITLE: Love Wanted
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 270
Characters: Larry Walls, Bo Lansing, and Jimmy Blackstone
POV: 3rd POV
Sub-Genre: Ghost
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

When it rains, it pours. Not only has Larry Walls been evicted from his apartment, but his hours have also been cut at the department store where he works, leaving him facing homelessness.
Meanwhile, Bo Lansing, a total stranger to Larry, toils at a dead-end job as a fry cook while attending night classes to become a certified chef. When the school closes its doors without warning, leaving Bo in the lurch for thousands of dollars in tuition, his dream of becoming a chef is shattered and his financial troubles spiral.
Desperate for a new beginning, each man answers an ad for live-in help posted by a wealthy recluse, and wonder of wonders, they are both hired! Just as their lives begin to improve, a young Kumeyaay Indian named Jimmy Blackstone joins the workforce at the Stanhope mansion.
When Mr. Stanhope’s true reason for hiring the young men is discovered by one of the three, a fourth entity makes its presence known.

Greed.

With all these players vying for position in a game of intrigue orchestrated by one lonely old man and a mischievous ghost, can a simple thing like love ever hope to survive the fray?

Review:

This newest book by Mr. Inman is not at all what I was expecting. Let me say upfront that I am a huge fan of this author and Love Wanted has not changed that. However, I was expecting another fun filled romp like many of his earlier books and while Love Wanted is funny, and will no doubt have the readers laughing at times, for me it had a different feel to it.

The book starts out with a prologue to set up the background of the book. Old wealthy Mr. Stanhope knows he does not have a whole lot of time left and with no family he has no one to leave all his money to. With that in mind Stanhope sets out to find two men who will find the kind of love he had with his husband. To do that he turns his house into a form of Big Brother, the only difference is that there will only be two young men ‘hired’ and neither of them know what is really going on.

When the story starts out it appears as if this will be a fun romantic story between Bo Lansing and Larry Walls, each having to start over, and hoping that their new jobs with Mr. Stanhope is just what they needed. Of course, you expect things to be a little crazy with Stanhope playing the two to see how they will react, and Jeremy, the ghost of Stanhope’s husband causing a little mischief. Slowing things begin to change and I started to wonder what was going to happen next, especially after Stanhope hires Jimmy Blackstone.

This is one of those books that would be easy to spoil so I will not go into too much detail. I will say that fans of this author really should think of picking up Love Wanted. While it, in some ways, was not what I expected, it was very well done. I found myself staying up late into the night to see how everything would play out. I loved the way the author wraps up the story and found myself wanting to cry at the end. I was glad to be given a chance to read this and will be putting it in my keeper file.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Ben and Shiloh by John Inman


Title: Ben and Shiloh
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author: John Inman
Pages: 204
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Shiloh Smart is alone and looking for a fresh start. Convinced he’s finished with love forever, he signs a lease at the Belladonna Arms, a tacky, run-down apartment building situated high on a hill in downtown San Diego.

Determined to turn his back on romance, Shiloh works hard at carving out a life for himself where love doesn’t stand a chance and staying single is all that matters.
Then his drag queen landlord’s nephew, Ben Moss, moves in. Thanks to a rumor Ben has heard since childhood of a fifty-year-old crime and a fortune in stolen money, he sets out to find the loot supposedly hidden decades ago in his uncle’s apartment building.

The minute Ben spots a kilted Shiloh toddling off to work at the Scottish restaurant up the street where he waits tables, he falls hard and fast for the aloof young redhead. Even a hidden treasure can’t compete in Ben’s eyes with the beautiful waiter with the fiery copper hair.

But even while he diligently works to break down Shiloh’s defenses, Ben doesn’t give up his quest for buried treasure. Soon, as their friendship deepens, the two young men join forces in a search for the stolen cash.
As the treasure hunt gathers steam and all the tenants get involved, Ben and Shiloh come to realize the greatest treasure isn’t buried in the Belladonna Arms at all. It’s buried far deeper—in each other’s hearts!

Review:

Ben and Shiloh is the newest book in the, The Belladonna Arms series. This series centers around a run down apartment complex in San Diego. Each book brings into focus a main couple who has found their way to the Belladonna Arms. This time it is Ben and Shiloh.

Ben is on a treasure hunt. Back in the day, when the Belladonna was a prime location, a robbery took place and the thief found his way to the Belladonna Arms before getting caught. Now Ben is searching for that money, thank goodness his uncle owns the Belladonna, giving him easy access to the property.
Shiloh is done with love. After being cheated on and kicked out of his apartment, he finds his way to the Belladonna Arms. The only thing the place has going for it as far as Shiloh can see is that it is close to his job. Then he sees Ben. Ben may be good looking, and cause Shiloh to feel funny, but Shiloh can’t help wondering if Ben is a little crazy.

Anyone who has ever read a John Inman book knows that his stories can be a little snarky, may make you laugh, and will keep you turning the pages. This book is no different. I loved watching Ben and Shiloh together. In the beginning it is easy to see why Shiloh thinks that Ben is off his rocker. There are a few moments where i could not help wonder the same thing. I really loved the chemistry between them. The way they come together is hot, and the make the perfect couple as each has something the other needs in their life.

Ben and Shiloh is full of wonderful secondary characters, most of whom live at the Belladonna. These characters add a lot of humor to the story , especially Ben’s uncle. as well as help the two young men, not only with their relationship but also in the search for the treasure.

This is another Inman book that I will be re-reading again. I can not wait to see what he plans to bring out next.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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Spirit by John Inman


Title: Spirit
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 214
Kisses: 5






Blurb:

Jason Day, brilliant designer of video games, is not only a confirmed bachelor, but he’s as gay as a maypole. One wouldn’t think being saddled with his precocious four-year-old nephew for four weeks would be enough to throw him off-kilter.
Wrong. Timmy, Jason’s nephew, is a true handful.

But just when Timmy and Uncle Jason begin to bond, and Jason feels he’s getting a grip on this babysitting business once and for all, he’s thrown for a loop by a couple of visitors—one from Tucson, the other from beyond the grave.

I’m sorry. Say what?

Toss a murder, a hot young stud, an unexpected love affair, and a spooky-ass ghost with a weird sense of humor into Jason’s summer plans, and you’ve got the makings for one hell of a ride.

Review:

Spirit by John Inman is an excellent story about two young men out to find the truth about a missing family member, with the aid of their little nephew. When the story starts out, it has an almost light hearted feel to it and more than once I had to set it aside, I started it in the dentist waiting room, because I had a hard time not laughing out loud. The publisher’s blurb refers to Timmy as a handful and that is putting it mildly. This little one is a real firecracker who at times steals the show and the connection between Jason and Sam is intense.

It’s not long before the story starts to take a dark turn. I really felt for Jason, Sam, and Timmy. It is easy to see that this story is not going to end well and the thought that Timmy has to handle something so tragic at such a young age will bring you close to tears. While this story is a romance, that part of the story is more in the background, leaving the mystery of Paul’s disappearance to take front and center position.

I love that this story engages you right at the beginning and does not let the reader down. Spirit has a lot of twists and turns, some of which will leave you guessing. I did wish that the author would have let us see some of the police involvement at the end however; as I am curious as to how the young men were able to explain everything.

I have only read one other story by this author, however, between that one and this; I will be looking out for more. Everyone should have Mr. Inman on their must read shelf.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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Serenading Stanley by John Inman


Title: Serenading Stanley
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 230
Characters: Stanley Sternbaum, Roger Jane
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 3.75


Blurb:

Welcome to the Belladonna Arms, a rundown little apartment building perched atop a hill in downtown San Diego, home to the city’s lost and lovelorn. Shy archaeology student Stanley Sternbaum has just moved in and fills his time quietly observing his eccentric neighbors, avoiding his hellion mother, and trying his best to go unnoticed… which proves to be a problem when it comes to fellow tenant Roger Jane. Smitten, the hunky nurse with beautiful green eyes does everything in his power to woo Stanley, but Stanley has always lived a quiet life, too withdrawn from the world to take a chance on love. Especially with someone as beautiful as Roger Jane.

While Roger tries to batter down Stanley’s defenses, Stanley turns to his new neighbors to learn about love: Ramon, who’s not afraid to give his heart to the wrong man; Sylvia, the trans who just wants to be a woman, and the secret admirer who loves her just the way she is; Arthur, the aging drag queen who loves them all, expecting nothing in return—and Roger, who has been hurt once before but is still willing to risk his heart on Stanley, if Stanley will only look past his own insecurities and let him in.


Review:

I loved Inman’s Hobbled. This one wasn’t as good, I’m afraid. Still, a decent romance.

Insecurity, thy name is Stanley. That’s the point of the character, the continuous self-recriminations, a vicious cycle of feeling unworthy, ugly and unsexy. After the third time or so it got repetitive, and I lost my sense of affection for him, especially how badly he treats Roger as a result. I do get it, how deeply rooted self-doubts are. But the incessant references to Roger’s physical beauty and Stanley’s mediocrity began to grate my nerves early on, I’m sorry to say. Is Roger’s only worth in his looks? Stanley seemed to think so, with only a few mentions of Roger’s kindness there too.

Also, the start of the story, though written amusingly, was a bit too long, and I wanted the story to start. These sidetracks within the story happened less toward the end though. There’s also a mix of character POVs within a scene, somewhat confusing.

Fourthly, there’s Arthur’s character. I don’t understand what his point in the story was. An older bear who has recently discovered his true, cross-dressing self—and the others put him down a lot, making fun of him behind his back. Is he a comic relief? Is he the catalyst to the story? I don’t know. All I do know is I wasn’t fond of the way he was treated by his so-called friends. And then there’s Stanley’s mom, the worst female character I’ve read about in ages! Hated her and saw no point to the whole thing.

Inman writes well, though, with lots of humor and plenty of interesting situations. The dialogue is realistic, as are the people. Sylvia’s side story, for example, was the one of the best parts of the story, gut-wrenching and heartwarming, a tearjerker moment. Her plight touched me very deeply, and I felt for her from the first moment. In fact, I liked her better than any other character in the story, and her sad situation is one anyone can easily relate to.

So, overall an above average romance, with some highlights and a few lows. Inman is a very talented writer, so do not dismiss this so casually based on my opinions. For all I know, yours may vary greatly, as the message of this tale is a positive one.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Hobbled by John Inman


Title: Hobbled
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 246
Characters: Danny Shay, Luke Jamison
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 5+


Blurb:

Thanks to fate and his own lack of good sense, eighteen-year-old Danny Shay is headed into what looks to be the worst summer of his life. It starts with a minor meltdown at work that leaves Danny under house arrest with a cast on one leg and an ankle monitor on the other, courtesy of the San Diego Police Department. On top of that, he’s battling a chronic case of virginity, with no relief in sight.

Oh, and there’s one more little glitch. A serial killer is stalking the city, murdering young men. And when strange sounds are heard in the house behind Danny’s, the neighborhood kids think they’ve found the killer. But not until Danny learns he’s next on the madman’s list do things really begin to get desperate.

Damn! And Danny had plans to come out this summer—maybe even get laid! He doesn’t have time for ankle monitors and serial killers!

Then ginger-haired Luke Jamison moves in next door. Not only does Luke solve a few of Danny’s more urgent problems, he also manages to create a couple more that Danny never saw coming. Gee. If he can survive it, this summer might not be so bad after all.

Review:

Danny has it bad. A cast on one leg, an ankle monitor in the other, a serial killer stalking the city, troublesome neighborhood kids. Yet, nothing is as bad as being a horny teenage virgin—and getting a gorgeous young guy as your new neighbor to tempt you. Luke, the new guy, is hotter than hot, and he seems friendly. And perhaps more. But… it isn’t a good time to be a young gay man in San Diego where six have already gone missing, and later found raped and murdered. Could the killer be a neighbor? The mystery deepens.

This story was an absolute treat. We get both Danny’s and Luke’s points of view, though Danny’s more since this is his coming of age story. In fact, everything about this tale rings true. Danny is in flux between childhood and adulthood, and sometimes he wants to be one, then the other. With Luke, Danny gets the opportunity to be gay in a way he’s always wanted to be at heart. And falling in love seems so easy. From the tentative first conversations to the eager first time sex, there’s a wonderful element of realism here. I felt like I was a part of it all.

But rites of passage can be bloody, too. And with a killer on the loose, danger looms in every shadow, be it in the backyard, in the hallway outside the bedroom, or perhaps even the house next door. You never know. The mystery here is more action and suspense than using the little gray cells to solve a problem. Danny, Luke, and two neighborhood kids, DeVon and Bradley, get down and dirty trying to find the latest missing youth. And when horrific cries start rising in the night, it’s not just Fredrick the cat that is howling in the stormy darkness. Scary stuff.

John Inman has a captivating and humorous way of writing that brings the story to life, from every excited breath to each frightened gasp. There was absolutely nothing I didn’t like about this tale. And there are not only intriguing side characters, but Danny’s and Luke’s fathers are so supportive of their kids I doubt anyone would be scared to come clean about one’s homosexuality with them. More parents like this are needed out there. Danny’s dad, especially, gets top marks from me.

Hobbled
is way easy to recommend wholeheartedly. From sweet first kisses and touches to a few things that go bump in the night, this story has it all. Go for it. You won’t regret it.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Loving Hector by John Inman


Title: Loving Hector
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 224
Characters: Dillard Brown and Hector Pena
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Humor, Mystery
Kisses: 5 +


Blurb:

Dillard Brown has a mother who’s determined he’s straight, a writing career that’s going nowhere, and at thirty, he’s never been in love in his life. But thanks to a ten-pound ball of fluff and energy named Chester, one of Dill’s circumstances is about to change. Maybe even all three.

Who would’ve thought one little stray dog could change Dill’s world—and not by accident either. The damn dog has it planned. If not for Chester wandering into Dill’s life and into his heart, Dill would never have met Hector Peña—and tumbled headlong into love at last!

But for all Chester’s efforts, happiness for Dill and Hector is still not assured. Hector’s evil ex, Valdemaro, is dead set on holding on—even if it means kidnapping Hector to keep him from Dill forever! Now Dill has to pull an army together to rescue Hector, and just where the hell is he supposed to find an army? Gads, if only Dill could write books this interesting!

Review:

I don’t know if it was the intent of Mr. Inman when he wrote this book, but I found Loving Hector to be one of the funniest books I have read in some time. From the beginning I was laughing out loud and at times had to remind myself I was reading in public.

Dillard is a writer who still has an evil day job, only he has trouble holding on to them and is constantly finding himself working at a new fast food restaurant. Hector works at a bookstore and is just trying to stay under the radar so that his ex doesn’t find him. The way these two meet is crazy and the connection between them is strong from the beginning. Hector wants to take things slow however, which is understandable given what occurred in his last relationship. I loved seeing this relationship develop and even though the men ran into some rough patches it was easy to see that these two were building towards becoming a solid couple.

There are many wonderful secondary characters in Loving Hector. These characters add something special to the story. I almost fell out of my chair when Dillard’s grandfather started talking about his own gay relationship and could not believe the interaction between him and Dillard’s bosses. And you can’t miss Dillard’s parents. These two, especially his mother, are over the top. Not everything goes smoothly however as Hector’s ex shows up to cause trouble.

I cannot recommend Loving Hector strongly enough. This is a fantastic story and definitely one I will be reading again and again.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Shy by John Inman


Title: Shy
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 264
Characters: Tom Morgan, Frank Wells
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 4.75


Blurb:

Dating is hard enough. Throw in an incontinent Chihuahua, an unrequited love affair, a severe case of social anxiety disorder, a dying father, and a man-eating hog and it becomes darned near impossible. Still, it takes two to tango—and when Tom Morgan, a mild-mannered assistant bank manager with a debilitating case of shyness, meets Frank Wells, who is straight off the farm and even shyer than he is, sparks start flying.

Just when Tom and Frank’s burgeoning love affair is rolling along nicely, Frank must return to Indiana to oversee the farm while his father battles cancer. Tom tags along to help Frank out and finds himself slopping hogs and milking cows and wondering what the hell happened to his orderly citified existence. And what’s with all the chickens? Tom hates chickens!

With Frank’s help, Tom grits his teeth and muddles through. Funny what a couple of guys can accomplish when they’re crazy about each other. Not even nine hundred chickens can stand in the way of true love.

Review:

I had a feeling by the book’s cover (which I love) that Shy was going to be a sexy, funny read and I was right. I found myself laughing out loud by some of the things both characters go through as well as the humorous situations they found themselves in.

The blurb does an excellent job at describing the story, so I won’t rehash it. Both Tom and Frank suffer from social anxiety disorder. Although both men are crippled socially from it, Tom doesn’t have it as bad as Frank. I liked how these two men were able to relate to each other and form a strong bond between them. Before they know it, they are swept up into a whirlwind relationship and the physical attraction they have for each other turns into love. I enjoyed watching them work together to fight against their social disorders together. I also liked the true friendship these two men had between them. It was easy to believe that they loved, respected and cared for each other by the way they communicated with one another.

The story itself is well-written and very fast paced. Once I started it, I was immediately swept up into these two heroes lives. Before I knew it, it was several hours later, and I had finished the book. It’s very easy to get lost into this story and I loved the escapism it gave me.

There are many heartfelt and funny moments in the story. I found myself laughing out loud several times. The book is told in the first person viewpoint, through Tom’s eyes. and since he was such a likeable, relate-able character I enjoyed seeing the world though his eyes. Tom has a wicked sense of humor that I really appreciated, and he since he was so easy to like, I found myself quickly rallying behind him and Frank in hopes that everything would turn out happily between them.

The reason this is not a five star read for me is because I was totally unprepared for what happened to Frank’s brother. It was a little outrageous (even if I did think the jerk deserved it) and pulled me out of the story a little bit, otherwise the ending was fabulous and it still ended up being one of my favorite reads.

Shy
is a romantic, funny read that will satisfy the pickiest of readers. Between the well-written characters and the fast-paced storyline, it’s earned a spot on my keeper shelf. I’m looking forward to reading more by Mr. Inman in the future. Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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