Tag Archives: author: tara lain

Outing the Quarterback by Tara Lain

Outing the Quarterback

Outing the Quarterback by Tara Lain

Series: Long Pass Chronicles, Book 1
Published by:
 Dreamspinner Press on September 18, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Will Ashford wants to be an artist. And he’s good enough to make it. But it doesn’t fit into the life his father has laid out for him. He’s the quarterback for the SCU football team and a business major, with the expectation that he will continue to play professionally and eventually take over his father’s business. So he attends art classes in secret, even using an alias to help ensure he won’t be found out. But there’s something in his newest class that might make it harder to keep his other secret: Will is gay, and he has designs on his classmate Noah Zajack. Will is hoping he will be able to secure a prestigious scholarship so that he can leave his father’s life (and money) behind to pursue his dream. But Noah also hopes to get the scholarship, as he may not have the means to continue his studies without it. Will is torn, not only when it comes to living his truth (and figuring out exactly what that truth is) but also when it comes to his own designs on the scholarship and the direct conflict with the man he loves. But the fact that one can’t always have everything is a cliche for a reason, and there are some decisions Will must make.

I can’t say that there were a lot of unexpected twists and turns with this story, but I found myself glued to the pages from beginning to end. The situation is ripe for drama and conflict, and it certainly delivers. But there are some great moments between the characters (not just Will and Noah, but many of the supporting players as well), and I found Noah particularly endearing. Definitely worth a read.

Golden Dancer by Tara Lain

Golden Dancer

Golden Dancer by Tara Lain

Series: Dangerous Dancers, Book 1
Published by: Loose Id on September 27, 2011
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Mac MacAllister is a reporter on a mission. He knows that billionaire Daniel Terrebonne is the one who stole the priceless Golden Dancer statue. It’s going to be difficult to prove, and he’ll need to focus. Which is why he doesn’t need the distraction of writing a ballet review. But since his parents are well-known dancers and he knows ballet, it’s an assignment he gets.

Mac quickly forgets the story is a distraction once he meets Trelain Medveyev in person. There’s just something about him that draws Mac in. (Though Mac’s not sure what it is; he’s straight, after all.) As the two spend more time together, Mac begins to realize that maybe there is a physical attraction between them that can be explained.

If Mac’s sexuality isn’t enough of a hurdle, another wrench is thrown into the mix. Terrebonne is also interested in Trelain, and he makes a decisive move while Mac’s head is still spinning. But Mac sees this as an opportunity; he might be able to use the connection to investigate Terrebonne more closely. Until that close investigation leads Mac to wondering if he might have feelings for his suspected thief, as well.

But Mac isn’t the only person looking for the Golden Dancer. The original owner wants it back. And he is prepared to stop at nothing to see it returned to his collection. Even if it means danger for Terrebonne and everyone close to him…

This is one I don’t think I would have come across if it hadn’t been for a reading challenge. But I’m glad I picked it up. I’m always a fan of Tara Lain’s writing. She has a way of developing characters and worlds that allows the reader to feel like they’re very much along for the ride. And this one is no exception.

There are certainly a lot of twists and turns along the way here–especially with the romantic elements. I hadn’t expected the outcomes of some of the conversations and situations that came up. But none of those unexpected events seemed out of character or out of line with the story.

I had honestly expected more tension and drama with the parents (especially Trelain’s) based on how they were described in the story. But I also know that it’s common for a child to describe their parents differently than they really are–especially if they have any reason to feel unsupported by them.

If you’re looking for a fun, interesting, and engaging read, then look no further.

Beauty, Inc. by Tara Lain

Beauty, Inc.

Beauty, Inc. by Tara Lain

Series: The Pennymaker Tales, Book 3
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 8, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Dr. Robert “Belle” Belleterre is more than just a pretty face. He’s a skilled chemist who has just developed an innovative face cream that will prove a breakthrough for his father’s cosmetic company. Belle’s success seems to go unappreciated by his father. The older Mr. Belleterre’s alcohol and gambling problems keep the company on the brink. And when a series of events find him facing a debt he can’t pay, he offers up his son to Magnus Strong, CEO of Beauty, Inc.

Belle finds himself on the other side of the country from his family and his best friend. And all he knows of Mr. Strong, aside from his position, is that he’s known for a major scar across his face. But any man who would accept a year of his service in his company to pay off a poker debt can’t be a great person, right? How can he be expected to work for a rival company? But with a family like Belle’s, perhaps the family business shouldn’t be his main concern.

And what of Magnus Strong and the man behind the mystery? What are his motivations? And who is he? As Belle settles into his new home, he soon finds that there may be something unexpected behind the scar…

I’ve been really enjoying The Pennymaker Tales, of which this is book three. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering they’re modern adaptations of fairy tales. I live for retold stories that offer new perspectives and elements not present in the original. And who doesn’t like seeing the story of that princess retold with someone like themselves in her place?

Tara Lain approaches these stories in a masterful way. There’s always just enough of the source story for you know what’s being referenced. But the new story still feels fresh and original. Even knowing that a fairy tale is being referenced, you don’t feel like you’re just seeing and hearing the same thing all over again.

I’m not sure if more of these are planned, but I certainly hope they are. I’d love to keep reading more about the men who are fortunate to have Mr. Pennymaker cross their paths…

Taylor Maid by Tara Lain

Taylor Maid

Taylor Maid by Tara Lain

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on March 1, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Taylor Fitzgerald is almost ready to cut his father out of his life completely. Taylor turns twenty-five tomorrow and will inherit the $50 million his grandfather left him in his will. And then he’ll never have to speak to his father ever again. But when he overhears his father reference a condition of the inheritance, Taylor can’t believe it. He needs to marry a woman or the money revers to his father.

There are a few problems with Taylor’s situation. One major one? He’s gay. But he’s already made plans for the money–not for himself, but to help children–so he can’t lose that inheritance. With what he knows is a crazy plan, he sets off to Las Vegas to convince an escort to marry him.

Of course that crazy plan isn’t going to work. But when Taylor meets a hotel maid named Ally May, he makes one last play. They’re strangers, but he’s in a bind. And when Ally agrees, he’s not sure if he should be more grateful or suspicious. As it turns out, Ally needs to get out of Vegas. She’s running from someone, and Taylor’s offer might be just what she needs. But there is more to Ally than meets the eye. And she has more in common with Taylor than he could ever imagine…

The must-get-married-to-inherit trope is not an unfamiliar one. I feel like this is maybe the third or fourth book I’ve read in the past year that used it. But there are some twists here that do make this particular approach stand out. And it’s difficult not to empathize with Taylor’s predicament.

While I enjoyed this book, I did find a few things that just didn’t hit the mark for me. The way the relationship develops just didn’t ring true. Especially after Taylor learns the truth about Ally. And the quick resolution of major issues at the end just seemed to be a bit fast and simplistic to me.

But this is an entertaining read, and I’d recommend picking it up if the story looks appealing.

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Knight of Ocean Avenue

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Series: Love in Laguna, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on May 1, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Billy Ballew doesn’t have the best of luck with relationships. He has no problem attracting women, but things always seem to end before they get too serious. Which is where he finds himself once again: dumped. And he’s not excited to tell his mother who thinks he should be married and settled down at twenty-five. Preparations for Billy’s sister’s wedding provide the perfect opportunity for his family to try to “help” him. They set him up with stylist whose job is to improve his image. That should help him land and keep a lady, right? Except when Billy meets Shaz, he’s thrown for  a loop. There’s something about this guy that Billy just can’t shake. Billy likes him. And not just as a fascinating person who is good at what he does. Billy realizes he might like Shaz for something more. And he needs to figure out if that’s what he really wants before his chance is lost forever.

Too often I find that “gay for you” or first gay relationship stories take a very simplistic view. The guy goes from 100% straight to totally okay with being gay in the snap of his fingers. And that always strikes me as a bit unrealistic. Coming out to yourself is a major component of the coming out process. And coming to a realization that you may not be who you thought you were your whole life is a big deal. And I appreciate that this story treats it that way. It doesn’t dwell on it as the focal point of the story for pages and pages, but it provides a more realistic portrayal than I’m used to seeing.

It’s not difficult to like this characters, either. They’re all pretty great. And the subplots and scheming going on in the background with the side characters just makes it even more fun to read.

Driven Snow by Tara Lain

Driven Snow

Book Info

Title: Driven Snow (The Pennymaker Tales, Book 2)
Author: Tara Lain
Published: November 25, 2015
Pages: 210
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★


Snowden “Snow” Reynaldi is a chess genius at NorCal University and the star pupil of his mentor, Professor Kingsley. He’s shy and awkward, and that’s perfectly fine for an aspiring chess champion. But it’s never going to endear him to the guy he can’t get off his mind: star quarterback Riley Prince. Not like it really matters, though, since Riley isn’t gay and he’d never give Snow a second glance even if he was. Right? And even though he knows it’s probably a bad idea (both in terms of his attraction and having time for chess), Snow willingly agrees when Riley needs a physics tutor. A crush and time management turn out to be the smallest of Snow’s worries when his professor marries a mysterious woman who doesn’t seem to hold Snow in very high regard–so much so that his life might be in danger. With the help of seven fraternity brothers from Grimm College and a mysterious man by the name of Pennymaker, will Snow be able to get his life back together and save himself, his professor, and the man he loves?

Another great adaptation from Tara Lain. I absolutely love the way she can take these classic fairytales and update them to the point where you can clearly see the nods and references but you get an entirely different story in the process. It removes the whole “gee, that was obvious” type of reaction while taking the reader on a new and exciting journey that is well worth their time. I recommend giving this a read if you’re a fan of adaptations of classic stories and fairytales.

Title: Love You So Hard
Author: Tara Lain
Publication Date: June 2, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Craig has been crushing on Jesse since he first saw him, but especially since he saw him wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “I would bottom you so hard”. Craig has always wanted to top but never has and so his heart (and some other things) leap at the prospect of being with Jesse. And when he finally talks to him he finds out that Jesse is more than willing to help him and show him how.

I really enjoyed the concept of this story – there’s just something about how Craig sees Jesse and gets this fantasy in his head, never thinking it could ever play out, and then somehow it does. The characters themselves are wonderfully written and dynamic. The only drawback is that it kind has the overall message that you need to change who you are to be valuable, and I’m not a big fan of that, but otherwise it’s a great read.