Illusions and Dreams by Z Allora ~ Book Review by Caroline

23547207 Title: Illusions and Dreams

Author: Z Allora

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Blurb:

Randy Camster failed at being married. His life now centers around work, TV sports, and listening to his friend Jake complain about how Randy’s lack of a sex life will be the downfall of mankind. Not true! Well, not totally. He’s just never understood the fascination with sex until… ladyboy performer Lalana Dulyarat shimmies into his world via an Internet ad for Thailand tourism.

Jake O’Neil’s open pansexuality yields him interesting bedmates, but he’s never chased after the mythical illusion of love. He focuses on others, like his best friend Randy, who needs a Bang-Cock vacation. Finding an adorable little imp named Boon-nam wasn’t on the itinerary. Gay, straight, and undecided, Jake has had ‘em all, but never a virgin aching to take a walk on the kinky side after having her affirmation surgery. Talk about pressure. And what’s with everyone warning him not to break her heart? His is the one in danger.

Caroline’s View:

This is unlike anything that I have read or reviewed before.

Firstly two of the MC’s are Trans and this is not something I have a whole lot of knowledge about and I really hope I can do both the ladies justice in this review. Then there is the fact that when you finish the book it feels almost like you took a trip to Thailand yourself as the descriptions of the places are so clear. The author has done a fantastic job of making you feel like you are there whilst the story enfolds.

Randy and Jake are best friends and need a holiday. It was quite hard to see why this pair were such good friends sometimes as their characters were so unalike. Randy is sweet whereas Jake was often offensive and initially he really got on my nerves with his constant lowering the tone of conversation. When they finally decide on a destination the countdown is on for their trip to Thailand. In the intervening weeks Randy has been doing his homework of where to go and what to see and has become a little bit obsessed with a ladyboy performer Lalana Dulyarat.

On arrival in Thailand the first stop for the two men is a club called ‘Illusions and Dreams’ which is where La-la works. When they run into her and her friend Boon nam Randy is completely tongue tied and most of the conversation is left to Jake. Arrangements are made for a post show drink and so starts the story.

Randy is captivated by La-La, has been for months, but now that he is spending time with her those feelings only intensify. La-La has experience of foreign tourists and is very cautious but there is something special in the gentle way Randy treats her. Boon nam is a spitfire, a bundle of energy, who giggles a lot and totally baffles Jake. For the first time in his life Jake finds himself considering somebody else’s feelings and even though he won’t admit it he falls fast and hard. Gradually Jake grows on you as you see the caring man underneath the barbs.

So we have two couples having a holiday romance in a part of the world that is renowned for its sex industry.

This book is so much more than that!

I felt as though I was given an education as I read this story. Zallora always writes a good sex scene and often gives you a little kink with it, and yes you get that here, but you also get so much more.

It makes you stop and think just what these two ladies had been through just to get to a point in their lives where they felt comfortable and where they were who they should be. There was such a difference between La-La and Boon nam in what they required to make them feel that way. They had differing opinions on what surgery they each wanted. What Boon nam needed to feel feminine wasn’t the same as La-La and it was fascinating just to think about this aspect and how it affected them both so differently. What happens post –op was written in detailed description, it was just there for Boon, a part of everyday life and something that she delighted in because it was all part of a process that made her who she was.

Another aspect was insecurity. La-La just wanted true love but had almost given up hope. Her body looks different and she was full of insecurities. It felt like she battled with herself every time she was with Randy and she was left stunned at the acceptance he gave her. Each time they were intimate a little bit of her wall came down until there was nothing there but enjoyment and love.

Boon nam still had insecurities but for different reasons. She also had a kinky side but had no idea how to express herself. For Jake being as obnoxious as he was at the start he treated Boon like a princess and redeemed himself by the end. He gave her space and an opportunity to work out what she needed and she blossomed. He also took away any shame she felt at some of the naughtier things she needed.

This is a beautiful story and one that I definitely recommend. At about 80% I was starting to panic that these two couples weren’t going to get their happy ending but then I remembered that Z promises to always give us that. After confusion and tears there is laughter and love.

I read MM romance exclusively, so if you are like me on that point don’t let that put you off picking this up, there are no weak and whiny females in this book that need rescuing.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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