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

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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

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Gabbi Reviews: Taylor Maid by Tara Lain


Title: Taylor Maid
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 218
Characters: Taylor Fitzgerald, Alessandro Macias
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Dreamspun Desires, Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 3.5

Blurb:

He’ll marry the maid to get $50 million but a secret could queer the deal.

Taylor Fitzgerald needs a last-minute bride.

On the eve of his twenty-fifth birthday, the billionaire’s son discovers that despite being gay, he must marry a woman before midnight or lose a fifty-million-dollar inheritance. So he hightails it to Las Vegas… where he meets the beautiful maid Ally May.

There’s just one rather significant problem: Ally is actually Alessandro Macias, son of a tough Brazilian hotel magnate. But if Ally keeps pretending to be a girl for a little while longer, is there a chance they might discover this marriage is tailor-made?

Review:

Taylor Maid by Tara Lain is a sweet and sexy romp of a romance that ended up being an enjoyable read. I’ve read several books by Ms. Lain and I’ve liked them all. She has knack of writing interesting stories with unique characters that really keep this readers attention.

Although this book is quite a fun read, in the end, I don’t know if it will be a memorable one. The characters themselves are likable and I enjoyed the situation they found themselves in, but in some ways this book felt like it was a story-line that’s been used before but with a few new twists and turns throughout it to keep it interesting. As I read it, it gave me the feeling of being unbelievable at times, but I admit, this didn’t bother me too much because it is a romance and most of the romantic stories I’ve read aren’t something that would ring true.

The character themselves are what I liked about the book the most. Both Ally and Taylor are well-written heroes and I thought the chemistry they shared between them was quite strong. I liked the craziness of what brought them together and I understood why they were so drawn to one another.

Although I wasn’t sure if I would like Taylor, I ended up really caring for him. At first, I thought he’d be your typical, spoiled wealthy man, but as the story progressed and I learned more about him, I found myself really liking him. I also appreciated how much he cared for Ally and in the end, really stood up to do the right thing. Of course, who wouldn’t for Ally? Ally is a super sweet man who easily charmed his way into both mine and Taylor’s heart.

Taylor Maid is a fast-paced read and before I knew it, I had read it cover to cover in one sitting. If you are looking for a quick and sexy read, Taylor Maid is an easy book to recommend. Taylor and Ally’s story will leave you satisfied with a smile on your face.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website

Lydia Reviews: First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony


Title: First Comes Marriage
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author: Shira Anthony
Pages: 262
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Their marriage was supposed to be all business….

When struggling novelist Chris Valentine meets Jesse Donovan, he’s interested in a book contract, or possibly a date. The last thing Chris expects is a marriage proposal from New York City’s most eligible bachelor!
Jesse’s in a pinch. To keep control of his company, he has to marry. So he has valid reasons for offering Chris this business deal: in exchange for living in a gorgeous mansion for a year, playing the doting husband, Chris gets all the writing time he wants and walks away with a million-dollar payoff. Surely Chris can handle that. He can handle living with the most handsome and endearing man he’s ever met, a man he immediately knows he wants in the worst way and can’t have. Or can he?

Review:

Recently Dreamspinner Press started a new subscription line called Dreamspun Desires. This line is reminiscent of the old Harlequin/Silhouette books. Like those series, this line puts out 2 books a month. Fans of those older lines will also notice a similar feel to the books in Dreamspun Desires. One of the first books put out for Dreamspun Desires was First Comes Marriage.

This story takes a young man struggling to keep control of his company after the death of his grandfather. Jesse’s grandfather’s will stipulates that Jesse has to be married for a year or he loses the company he has being working so hard on. His solution, strike a deal with a struggling author of course.

Chris writes Steampunk/Urban Fantasy and while he has picked up a small internet following, it is not enough to survive on. The last thing he expects to habit at a public reading is to meet Jesse. When the two become more acquainted he is surprised by the offer the gorgeous business man makes. He’s even more surprised when he takes Jesse up on his deal.

The author does a great job bringing these two alive for the reader. Because of that it is easy to see the chemistry that exists between Jesse and Chris. The strong connection brings them closer together as they learn more about themselves and each other. Of course the story would be boring if it was all smiles and sunshine. Obstacles and misunderstandings are thrown into the way, some of which eventually bring about a separation.

I loved the way this story flows and the author did a great job wrapping it up in a way that is realistic to the story line. The little twists to the story make the reader want to turn the pages to see how it will play out. Readers are sure to enjoy the secondary characters. Both Chris’ mom and Jesse’s step-grandmother help move the story along as well as add a few laughs. I was glad that Jesse and step-grandmother Wanda were able to mend there fences and become the family his grandfather always wanted.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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