Kimberly Reviews: Snow Balls by Tara Lain

Title: Snow Balls

Author: Tara Lain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 121

Characters: JJ, Ryan

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Kisses: 3 

Blurb:

JJ LaRousse looks like a quarterback but acts like a queen. He’s trying to be proud of who he is—until a robbery at the famous Laguna Winter Fantasy brings JJ face-to-face with tough cop Ryan Star. JJ hears Ryan likes manly men, so he drops his voice an octave, colors his pink hair, and tries to pass as a football fan.

Ryan Star may be tough, but he keeps his sexuality to himself at work. He learned in New York that being a gay cop can be deadly. His attraction to JJ threatens his secret, but he’s finding it hard to back away from a guy who’s so totally his type. Then, during a ski trip and a confrontation with JJ’s biggest nemesis, all the façades come crashing down. In the aftermath, can Ryan love JJ for who he really is? More importantly, can JJ?

Review:

Tara Lain is back with another Balls to the Wall romance, Snow Balls. If you’d like to read all the novels released thus far, the order is as follows:

  • Volley Balls
  • Fire Balls
  • Beach Balls
  • Fast Balls
  • High Balls
  • Snow Balls

This time around, we get emerging interior designer, JJ LaRousse, who is longing to get close to Detective Ryan Star after a robbery at the Laguna Winter Fantasy Art and Craft Show brings them into each others’ lives. The problem is that Ryan appears to only go for manly men, so JJ puts on a front and tries to get his man. It’s a good run while it lasts, but soon the lies become too much. Being true to yourself is the only way to live, even if it means losing the man of your dreams.

While I liked JJ and Ryan’s emerging romance, despite Ryan’s need to keep it hush-hush, I did find the push and pull to be a bit strained at times. JJ doesn’t want to be in the closet, because he’s already escaped, and Ryan isn’t quite comfortable being out at work. This should have been the end of the conversation – a sad end, but an end nonetheless. However, there’s still more in store for them.

A threat to Ryan’s safety brings JJ right back to his arms, and still they keep it quiet with JJ playing his role of ideal manly-man with interests in football and skiing. The fact that their relationship fractures not for the fact that Ryan is in the closet at work, but because of JJ’s fibs were a bit difficult for me. However, that problem is quickly swept away when there’s another threat to Ryan’s safety, a heroic save by JJ, and a happy ending for them both.

If you’re a fan of the Balls to the Wall series, by all means, pick up the latest addition. It might not have been my favorite of the books thus far, but it’s still a nice holiday romance that holds the promise of what-may-come. 

Reviewed By: Kimberly

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Lydia Reviews: High Balls by Tara Lain

TITLE:  High Balls

Author: Tara Lain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 163

Characters: Theodore Walters and Snake Erasmo

POV:   3rd

Sub-Genre:  Contemporary, Series

Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous.

Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily ever after is for real

Review:

If you’re looking for a book where not everything is as it seems, then take a look at High Balls by author Tara Lain.  This is a story that centers around two men, each trying to do what makes them happy.  Theodore is a single father trying to care for his young son while working on his dissertation.  This means a lot of juggling and very little money.  At the same time, Theodore is trying to keep his in-laws from finding out the secret he has been keeping.  I really liked Theodore and watching him with his son made me smile.  But Theodore has a lot of issues that keep him worried.  Things don’t look like they are going to work out with the college he is working at.  Not only is there the possibility that his dissertation will be denied, but he is having trouble with one of his co-workers.  That means Theodore will have to come up with a way to support him and his son.  All of this means that Theodore has little time for a private life.

When Theodore sees Snake, he sends Theodore’s body into overdrive.  The man is everything that Theodore should ignore but seems to be just what he needs.  From his head to his toes Snake is all Alpha and once he catches sight of Theodore he is determined to show the young man just what he is missing.

These two are good together yet both are keeping secrets that make forming a solid relationship difficult.  But they are not the only ones involved.  Theodore’s little boy Andy plays heavily into this story.  He is important to both men and when it looks like he will be pulled away from them, neither knows how to handle it, especially Theodore.

There are moments in this story that will have you laughing as well as close to tears.  I will admit when the secrets starting working their way to the surface, I wondered a time or two if the men would find their HEA.  The way the author wraps everything up, however, will satisfy everyone.  Fans of Ms. Lain are sure to enjoy High Balls, and for those who have yet to try one of the author’s books, this is a great one to start with.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Kimberly Reviews: High Balls by Tara Lain

Title: High Balls

Author: Tara Lain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 163

Characters: Theodore, Snake, Andy

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Kisses: 4 

Blurb:

Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous. 

Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily ever after is for real.

Review:

An intriguing storyline, a dose of mystery, and some family-time bonding all makes for a wonderful novel from Tara Lain. This novel is part of the Balls to the Wall series and makes for a great new addition.

If you’d like to read all the novels released thus far, the order is as follows:

  • Volley Balls
  • Fire Balls
  • Beach Balls
  • Fast Balls
  • High Balls

Theodore and Snake’s relationship might appear to be a case of opposites attract, but we soon learn that the two might have more in common than first thought. Plus, with Theodore’s son Andy thrown in, they have the makings of a true forever family. I love a feel-good story! There were a number of interlocking plotlines going on in this, which made you want to keep turning the page to figure out where it would go next. Not only is there the developing relationship between Theodore and Snake, but also a custody threat from Andy’s grandparents that might put their ultimate happiness in danger. And if that weren’t enough, there’s also the stress of Theodore going through his PhD defense and working against the departmental disrespect that he’s constantly having to face because of his chosen research topic. It all makes for one grand adventure.

While I liked the story very much, there were a few drawbacks that reduced my enjoyment just a bit. First was the wandering POV, switching between Theodore and Snake, sometimes in the middle of the chapter. I’m more of a fan of a dedicated POV when reading, or at least a switch that comes at a chapter break to give it more separation. Secondly, the reference to Theodore’s fellow TA kept switching between his first and last name. It kept confusing me, and I had to pause to remember that the two names were the same person. Lastly, the character of JP Rellico was very flat and did not pose any sort of threat, nor any sort of real interaction with the plot. He was a seen, but not heard entity that caused little drama since the custody issue was cleared up relatively quickly.

However, even those few drawbacks weren’t enough to detract completely from such a great novel. I loved the evolving relationship between Theodore and Snake, the flawed and complicated nature of both their characters, and how they overcame many obstacles to end up together. I am rooting for their happily ever after. They deserve all the happiness, because they certainly provided me happiness while reading.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Kimberly

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Check it out!! Get Tara Lain’s book Golden Dancer at a discounted price!


In celebration of Pride Publishing’s bestselling gay romance author Tara Lain, they are discounting the first in the Dangerous Dancers series, Golden Dancer!

This title will be discounted to 99c/p from the 16th March for a limited time on Pride Publishing, Amazon, Kobo and other eBook retailers.

Here is the Blurb for Golden Dancer:

A reporter and the thief he’s investigating both fall for a golden dancer, forging a ménage of love and lies that could send one to prison and one to the morgue.

Mac Macallister is obsessed—the online news reporter needs enough evidence to write a story accusing billionaire art collector Daniel Terrebone of stealing the Golden Dancer, a priceless work of art, from Horst Von Berg. The story promises the recognition Mac craves. But then Mac meets a real golden dancer, ballet star Trelain Medveyev, and his attraction to the man rocks his formerly straight world.

When the mysterious Terrebone ‘collects’ this beautiful dancer, too, Mac rushes to the rescue like a knight in shining cargo pants and plunges into a three-way passion that tears him between love and guilt. Can Mac keep investigating when his story could send one man to prison and another to the morgue? Will this reporter get his story or get his men?

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

Gabbi Reviews: Fire Balls by Tara Lain


Title: Balls to the Wall, Book 2: Fire Balls
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 112
Characters: Rodney Mansfield, Hunter Fallon
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

2nd Edition

A Balls to the Wall Romance

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, 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.

First Edition published by Etopia Press, 2012.

Review:

Fire Balls by Tara Lain is the second book in the Balls to the Wall series. Since this is a re-release, this is the second time I’ve read and reviewed this book. Like before, I am starting this series on the second book because the first book in the series, Volley Balls, is a ménage based romance. If you follow me, you know that I’m not a fan of ménages, so I’ve opted not to read it, BUT having said this…if the first book is as good as the second, it is definitely something you should consider.

I’ve read several books by Ms. Lain and I have to say, I’ve enjoyed them all. She writes characters who are fun, unique and sexy as hell. Plus, the heated chemistry her heroes share, as well as the genuine love and affection they feel for one another, truly resonates off of the written page.

Rodney is one of those heroes that you can’t help but adore. He is a successful artist whose love of poetry make him a true romantic at heart. (Even if he doesn’t want to admit it to himself) Because of his short stature and flamboyant-and-larger-than-life personality, Rodney has learned that not all men can appreciate him as he is. Normally, this doesn’t bother him because Rodney likes and accepts himself for who he is really is.

Though Rodney is a big personality with a lot of zest for life, when it comes to relationships and falling in love, Rodney keeps his heart safe behind a big wall of indifference. This is somewhat surprising because Rodney is loyal to his friends and likes and is liked by many others, but no matter how many barriers he keeps between falling in love and his heart, when he meets the handsome and very masculine firefighter, Hunter, all of his indifference to the possibilities of love begin to crumble.

Hunter has been living his life to please others. Though his homosexuality is known to others, he is afraid to truly live his life as he wants. Because of his larger, muscular size, Hunter is often looked at as an Alpha male who shouldn’t have a soft and sensitive side. Since Hunter aims to please those people he loves, he has pushed aside his own wants and needs and is living a life that doesn’t truly suit him. When he meets Rodney the first time, Hunter is intrigued by the sexy, flamboyant artist but his shame in being attracted to someone so different that what is expected of him, keeps Hunter from allowing himself to own up to his fascination and attraction to the larger-than-life artist.

Opposites can attract, but as we read the story it’s clear that Hunter and Rodney have more in common than at first glance. I liked the way they tiptoed around their attraction for each other, despite both men not wanting to admit how hard they are falling for one another to their own selves. The intense physical chemistry between them struck me as a special one and I began to love how they *despite themselves* began to communicate and then fall in love.

There were times these two drove me crazy. I’m not a fan of deception and both Rodney and Hunter deceive one of Rodney’s friends, Jerry throughout the novel. I didn’t like this aspect of the story at all, but in a way I did understand it. This might turn some readers off, but thankfully the two men do seem to redeem themselves in the end. Also, as a side note…I loved Jerry and hope he gets his own story one day…just sayin’.

Fire Balls is romantic tale of two men who are clearly made for one another and it’s an easy book to recommend. Tara Lain truly writes romance with a heart and I can’t wait to read more of this series.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Gabbi Reviews: Lord of a Thousand Steps by Tara Lain


Title: Lord of a Thousand Steps
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 216
Characters: Ian Carney, Braden Lord
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, May/December
Kisses: 4


Blurb:

A Love in Laguna Novel

To architecture student Ian Carney, family means everything. Taken in by his brother, Jim, when his father threw him out at eighteen for being gay, Ian yearns to create his own family with his boyfriend, 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 looking better and better.

Braden’s life is chaos. Just out of the closet and going through an ugly divorce from his wife of fifteen years who’s trying to take custody of his two children, he desperately resolves not to succumb 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? It’ll only take a thousand steps.

Review:

Lord of a Thousand Steps by Tara Lain is the fourth book in the Love in Laguna series and it’s definitely a keeper! Ms.Lain has a true knack of writing sexy, interesting men who never fail to bring a smile to my face and live with me long after I’ve finished the story.

I can honestly say that I didn’t have a favorite hero in this book. Why? Because I totally loved them both. Who wouldn’t love Ian? He’s the young ambitious man who dreams of having a family of his own. He’s an all around good guy and so worthy of all of the happiness he gets. Then there’s Braden. The older man who is an amazing dad, successful architect and though he seems to be confidant and self-assured to others, is just now allowing himself to be honest to himself and to others about his sexuality.

Together these two men sizzled up my computer screen. I loved their chemistry and the genuine affection and friendship they shared together. I liked them. I loved them together and honestly it doesn’t get much better than that. Also, throw in some adorable kids and our sweet Ian will have the ready-made family he’s always wanted. Loved it!

Though I loved this book, there were times I wanted to strangle a few characters. First, Braden’s ex-wife was HORRIBLE. She was almost so horrible that I wanted her to have some unfortunate *or fortunate depending how you look at it* accident and die. Also, Rico…what in the world? I’m so glad Ian left you! I was glad to see Ian get his head out of his arse and see you for the so and so that you are! Now that I say this, Ms. Lain will probably write a story about him and he’ll be wonderful and I’ll be sorry I wished for him to jump off a cliff for hurting Ian. Ugh.

If you are looking for a sexy, fun and fast-paced story with characters who live and breathe off of the written page, then Lord of a Thousand Steps is definitely for you!

Lord of a Thousand Steps is the fourth book in the Love in Laguna series. Although it could be read as a stand alone story, I do recommend reading all of these stories in book order. This way you will fully appreciate these wonderful characters and stories they have to tell.

The Love in Laguna series in book order are:

Knight of Ocean Avenue
Knave of Broken Hearts
Prince of the Playhouse
Lord of a Thousand Steps

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website

Gabbi Reviews: Beauty, Inc. by Tara Lain


Title: Beauty, Inc.
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 121
Characters: Robert “Belle” Belleterre, Magnus Strong
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

A Pennymaker Tale

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.

Review:

Beauty, Inc. is a spicy gem of a book that kept this reader enthralled with these two heroes’ lives. You might want to allow yourself plenty of time to read before you start this book. Why? Because once you get involved into these heroes lives, you’ll become hooked and will have to read it without stopping.

What I really liked about this book was the way these two men really connected with one another. Though the storyline is a well-loved one, I enjoyed the spin Ms. Lain did on it. Creative and very sexy, Beauty, Inc. is a read that left this reader with a big smile on her face.

Sometimes I don’t want a book bogged down with a lot of angst. In my opinion, this book has just the right amount of sweetness and angst mixed together. All in all, this is a flirty, easy read that would be a perfect choice to escape from everyday life for a few hours. I loved this book and know that fans of Ms. Lain will enjoy it as much as I did.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website