Title ~ Knight of Ocean Avenue
Author ~ Tara Lain
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 1st May 2015
Genre ~ M/M 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 judgement 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?
Whenever the lovely Ms Lain has a new release for review, I’m always first in line shouting MINE!!! So it was a foregone conclusion that Knight of Ocean Avenue was going to make its way into my grabby little hands…and what a lovely reading experience it was… I adored it!
And we love when Tara comes to see us at Sinfully. Today she’s talking over the top heroes , plus there’s a lovely teaser excerpt and of course a fantastic giveaway which you can enter in the Rafflecopter below.
Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be back at Sinfully. I LOVE visiting. I’m Tara Lain and I write The Beautiful Boys of Romance. If you’ve read many of my books, you know I have a definite fascination with very flamboyant gay men. That theme began back in my first years as an author when I created the ever popular Rodney Mansfield in Fire Balls, continued apace with Lindsey Vanessen in Wolf in Gucci Loafers and, I hope, is well represented in my brand new release, Knight of Ocean Avenue in which Shaz, my celebrity stylist, is self-described as “the gayest man alive”.
When I began creating these beautiful queens, they weren’t particularly popular in gay romance. I still get reviewers who go “uhhhh” when they encounter these guys, but I adore them and plan to give them their HEAs for as long as I keep writing fiction. I sometimes wonder where this fascination and admiration comes from. Maybe it’s because we often share a love of fashion and beauty products! LOL. But if you follow my blog, you may have heard me talk about the two young men who were close friends when I was in high school who later turned out to be gay and influenced my desire to write gay romance.
One of them was a close friend of my brother – a couple years younger than me. Handsome, macho, athletic, a wrestling champion, he graduated, got married, and maybe had kids – I’m not sure. Many years later, as a successful owner of a moving company, he visited my mom in California – with his boyfriend. The boyfriend was gorgeous, and very, very flamboyant. All he wanted to do was visit South Coast Plaza, the world famous shopping mecca near where I live, and when he got there, he charmed the perfume out of the paws of every sales lady and customer. He was, like my character Shaz, “so far over the top he had his own cloud cover”.
My friend obviously adored him – and so did I. While I’d been around many gay men over the years (my early professional life was in theater and fashion), the times dictated that these guys be hidden and protective. This young man was none of those things. No one would ever have mistaken him for an alpha male, and despite egregious discrimination at the time, he appeared not to care.
I was only around him a couple days, but obviously he had a lasting impact. Like a breath of fresh air in a world of shadows and darkness, he shoved open doors like he didn’t know they were there. Let’s hear it for “the gayest men alive”. They have the most delightful lessons to teach all of us.
I hope you’ll give Knight of Ocean Avenue a try. It’s the first book in my new series that takes you back to Laguna Beach, CA, one of my favorite settings. This book is a fave of mine. I’ve given you a nibble of the book below.
I've been reading and loving Tara Lain's books since I discovered M/M romantic fiction approx four years ago and fell hook, line and sinker for the genre. Her other Laguna based series: Balls to the Walls, were some of my earliest and most enjoyable reads… book one helped fuel my slavish love of ménage…and reading Knight of Ocean Avenue, which is also set in the same location, took me right back to those early days because it reminded me so much of the feel of those stories and just how great Tara Lain is at writing this particular type of sweet but hot sexy… with a capitol SIZZLE!...feel good, opposites attract story, featuring hunky 'straight' Alpha males who are deeply in denial of their sexuality, and their more effeminate, outré (but far from air headed) love interests whose flaming fabulousness and dazzling beauty, unlock the closet doors of these sexually deluded men, leading to them all finally finding the loves of their lives, their soul mates and ultimately themselves and their true paths in life!
Billy and Shaz's endearing love story follows those lines but what makes it all the more delightful and engaging are the two men themselves. As characters they're nothing short of adorable...in both their separate personalities and as a couple. The first time each of them appear on page you just know they're going to fix themselves firmly into your heart. From the moment they encountered each other an instant chemistry and delicious sexual tension was generated… I was in m/m MC love, channelling my inner romantic!
All the way through I really did feel the warm and fuzzies. I literally read it with a sappy grin on my face, and that sense of contentment you get when you know you've found your happy reading place. The plot follows a trope that's been done many times. As I said earlier the storyline is reminiscent of some of Tara's earlier books, but it shows that in the hands of the right author, familiar and expected can still come out feeling fresh and enticing.
There are touches of angst and conflict along the way but it's low key, and the emotional problems they encounter are sorted fairly quickly; however that doesn't take away from the story still having it's heartfelt, sometimes poignant, tender scenes.
As uber gay and swish as Shaz (Chase) Phillips is, he's also warm and sweet and intelligent. Underneath the glitz and glam and *chichi* fashion sense is an erudite, clever professional who has built up his fashion stylist empire with the help of a group of wonderful friends (fantastic supporting characters) and colleagues. He’s now at a point in his life where he can finally be the vibrant person he is in his own world, without too much backlash from the general population. Where his out and proud appearance sometimes draws negative reactions. So you can see why, as much as he's pulled towards the gorgeous construction worker, he's reluctant to put himself back in the position of having to reign in his hard earned gayness all over again.
The same in a way for a confused and frustrated Billy Ballew, who coming from a close knit family, is constantly under scrutiny from his well loved family. Especially his respected, but strict, religious, matriarchal mother who when he goes home to visit, tends to get on his case about not being able to keep a long term girlfriend. Also, working in a job where admitting he’s gay would probably bring derision and disgust from his ‘men’s men’ peers, has Billy just as conflicted about outing his feelings for the beautiful, feminine looking man with the long red hair and luscious lips that just beg to be kissed, as Shaz is about the hunky, knock out Ocean Avenue Knight who defended his honour.
How they rise above their fears and doubts and how it all comes together at the end is a joy. It was what I needed after just finishing a much darker, intense read and it's definitely gone into my top Tara reads up to now. A new favourite and a series that I'll be waiting impatiently for, especially after seeing who the leads are going to be for books two and three.
Five flamboyantly fabulous stars and a big satisfied sigh!
“This is a nice place.”
Rhonda nodded. “Yes. Shaz is a master of all things stylish.”
The voice came from behind Billy. “Master, did you say, darling? Ah, call my name and I am there.” The high, musical voice danced up Billy’s spine, and he remembered the tune.
Why was he scared to turn around? Slowly, he shifted and looked over his shoulder. Holy blessed shit. It was the same guy from the coffee shop, which made sense since the place was only three blocks from here—but still. If ever there was a guy who deserved to be called Shazam, this was the one. That was the word of a wizard, and Billy just got turned to fucking stone.
How did you get hair that color? The blaze of fire surrounded his face and fell well past his shoulders in spikes on top and undulating waves below. And his face. If somebody turned a cat, a Siamese cat, into a human, there he stood. Huge eyes with an upward tilt dominated the widest part of his face above cheekbones so high they could cut glass, and a pointed chin. Maybe a girl would have called his face heart-shaped. Like a cat.
Their little army of three stood. The guy floated over and kissed Rhonda on the cheek. “Never fear, Rhonda dear, Shaz is here.” He laughed at his own rhyme. Music. This guy was so far over the top he had his own cloud cover.
He extended a hand delicately and Mitch took it, more a touching of fingertips than a true shake. “Hello, Mitch darling.”
Just like the day before, his clothes were wild. Skintight jeans, in brilliant pink this time, hugged very long, lightly muscled legs. Billy knew about the muscles because they were on display in those pants. Above the pink he wore a white silky-looking shirt and a wild floral kimono thing over the whole outfit. Hoops glistened in his ears and a diamond nestled in the side of his nose. He was his own holiday. Christmas and the Fourth of July rolled into one.
He turned with a swirl of the kimono to Billy. “And this must be our emergency.” He stepped back. “Don’t we know each other, darling?”
Billy’s mouth opened and then closed. There were no words.
Rhonda put a hand on Billy’s shoulder. “Shaz, this is my brother, Billy Ballew. We’d like you to use your magic to give Billy a bit more style.”
Shaz looked up at Billy, his eyes widened, and he smiled, then reached out his hand again. Jesus, he wore fucking black fingernail polish. “Hello, Billy. So glad to meet you. Don’t be put off by my excesses. I’m not as dangerous as I look.” He popped his hip. “Well, maybe almost as dangerous,”
That would be damned fucking dangerous. Billy swallowed. Give me strength. With one swoop, he swallowed that graceful hand in his giant paw and squeezed. Surprisingly Shaz didn’t even flinch. He squeezed back, and that pressure rippled up Billy’s arm and set up sympathetic vibrations in his belly. What the hell? He wanted to sit back down and catch his breath. He didn’t move. “Coffee shop.”
“I saw you yesterday evening at the coffee shop on PCH.”
Shaz nodded, his eyes never leaving Billy’s. “Yes, I remember, of course. I wasn’t sure if I should mention it.”
Rhonda looked back and forth between them. “You know each other?”
Shaz shook his head. “We didn’t meet, but your brother defended me against a would-be asshole who I feel quite sure would have punched my lights out given a chance.”
“Dear God. Why? What happened?”
Shaz raised an eyebrow. “Nothing happened. More a matter of being. The asshole felt I was not allowed to be.”
Rhonda grabbed Billy’s arm. “Oh my Lord, did you get in a fight?”
Shaz gazed up at Billy. “No, he didn’t have to. His mere presence was enough to dissuade the attack. My hero, for sure.”
Meet Tara Lain
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
A word from Tara
“Since Knight of Ocean Avenue is a contemporary romance, I thought for a drawing prize I’d give the winner their choice of ANY of my contemporary romances. That means my whole backlist except for the two paranormal series – a choice of 19 books. : )”
For your chance to win just enter the Rafflecopter below. GOOD LUCK!