Author: Tara Lain
Narrator: K.C. Kelly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Story Rating: 0 of 5 Stars
Narration Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Overall Rating: 0 of 5 Stars
Release Date: 06/06/2016
Length: 08 hours 41 minutes
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
Driven by his desire to become a successful fashion designer and concerned with hiding his questionable past, Ru Maitland lets his obsession with action movie star Gray Anson on the big screen replace his social life. Then obsession and reality collide when Ru is asked to design fashion costumes for a special performance of Hamlet at the Playhouse in Laguna starring none other than Gray Anson. Gray turns out to be a compelling mix of shy and brash and, despite a high profile engagement to a female socialite, the signals Gray sends Ru have his libido doing the salsa.
Gray Anson has what most people only dream of—great wealth, huge fame, a job he loves. For that, he’s given up any semblance of privacy and the right to say no to the thousands of people who depend on him and the millions who love him. He sees everything he’s ever wanted just outside the bubble of his life, but how can he make the compromises needed to embrace it? When Ru’s shady past crashes into Gray’s paparazzi-haunted present, both men have to learn that sometimes the only acceptable compromise is the truth.
Reese Dante’s gorgeous cover (it’s one of my picks for the Rainbow 2016 Awards) and the premise of a fashion designer falling for an actor he’s dressing gave me high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, it just didn’t deliver a story interesting enough nor characters developed enough to keep my interest. I tried, I really did, but after listening to the first half of the book, I knew I simply wasn’t connected enough to the characters and the story to continue. I had to let it go.
I had a couple of major problems with the characters. Ru has so much potential, and I could overlook the crazy, schoolgirl-borderline-stalker obsession he has with actor Gray Anson and his seemingly constant erections. What bothered me most was the fact that the author teased the reader with hints that Ru has a difficult past, a past that is apparently coming back to haunt him, yet never delivers enough information to make Ru’s character more interesting than a fashion designer with the hots for an actor. I wanted that background, that tough childhood: that gritty, “I-made-it-despite-my-difficult-upbringing” part of Ru’s history revealed so that I could see his depth as a character. The bits and pieces the author dribbled sparingly upon the pages simply fed my frustration and didn’t help me connect to Ru at all. He felt underdeveloped and lacked dimension, and that’s such a pity.
If Ru felt underdeveloped, Gray fell even more flat. He never really took off as a main character, and for me, his only interesting quality was his ability to admit his lack of talent. I found his situation tiresome and uninteresting, and the fact that he was suddenly a brilliant actor after one session with Ru seemed highly unlikely. Their instant attraction was something I could accept with reticence, but Gray’s willingness to make major changes in his life for a man he had known for such a short time didn’t really ring true.
The long and short of it is, I waited for half of the book to connect with these two through further character development or events that would gain them some sympathy with the reader, and I just never felt it. I loathe quitting on a book I am reviewing, but this one just wasn’t delivering enough for me to finish it. This would not dissuade me, however, from reading different works by this author. In fact, I look forward to trying more titles by Tara Lain, as the Love in Laguna series and her other titles look quite intriguing.
K.C. Kelly’s performance wasn’t the main problem with this audiobook, but it did contribute to my frustration with it. His strong affectation of Shaz’s voice–and even, at times, Ru’s–felt a bit patronizing and stereotypical. This narrator is a gifted performer, and I have thoroughly enjoyed other audio books he has read. This one, however, just didn’t feel up to his level of talent.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the audiobook of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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