Love in Laguna #5
Release Date: August 21, 2017
Genre: Adult, M/M Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy as part of the blog tour. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease, #COYER
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The unlikeliest of lovers. The sweetest of loves.
Merle Justice wants to reach for the stars, but it's tough to get respect when playing a teenybopper vampire on TV. Then he meets a famous director anxious to give him all he thinks he wants - and maybe a bit more. Everything's looking up until a life-threatening encounter with some homophobes on Main Beach puts Merle face-to-face with a Sasquatch-sized hero in a pink puffer coat.
Tom Henry defies description. As unsophisticated and simple as an angel, he walks through life content with who he is and asking for very little except to care for his sister, Lily, and the dogs he loves. Then he meets Merle, the embodiment of dreams he barely knows he has. Merle knows the people who hold his future in their hands might love Tom - but they'll never understand Merle and Tom together. Tom knows it too. With lives far apart, who's really the fool of Main Beach?
Tara Lain's Love in Laguna series is a favorite of mine. Lain always delivers a meaty story along with a touching romance. And all the characters thus far are friends (or become friends) so I always get to check-in with them. Fool of Main Beach delivers on all counts and then some. Here are some highlights from all the goody-goodness:
He's an actor and a really good guy. He's handsome and charming but also down-to-earth, which means he isn't so fond of all the Hollywood hoopla. His family, while completely accepting of his sexuality, isn't so accepting of his career choice seeing as they're more of the intellectual type. This affects Merle's self-esteem as he wants to be taken seriously and he wants their respect. When he's given the chance at those things, he has to decide whether he wants others' respect or to be able to respect himself.
Oh my gosh did I adore this man! He's described once as guileless and that's a fair description. He's really smart but has some learning disabilities. He also is open and honest, not understanding social cues or following social etiquette when offering his opinions. Tom's hardworking and loyal to a fault, taking care of his family despite them kicking him out at 15 because of his sexuality.
- Character Development
Both Merle and Tom grow over the course of the story. Tom learns to stand up to his parents and speak up for himself. But Merle does the most growing, learning that he deserves happiness in life whether others approve or respect his choices or not.
- Social Commentary
This is an element I love in Lain's stories - religion and sexuality, bigotry, homophobia...I admire that she weaves it into her stories (without brow-beating) because it's a reality.
- Tom (yes, again)
I was a bit worried over how Tom would be handled. As I said, he's guileless, but considered "simple" by some of the characters and he's anything but simple. His character had to be handled "just right" in my opinion to make the story work and Lain handled him with aplomb.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the dogs. Tom volunteers at an animal shelter and is particularly fond of dogs. As a dog lover myself, I felt a strong affinity for Tom because of his love and care for these animals and Lain did a nice job giving the dogs their own personalities.
In the end, this might have moved into the top spot as my favorite in this series so far!
**Love in Laguna Series**
Knight of Ocean Avenue
Knave of Broken Hearts
Prince of the Playhouse
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Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in gay romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 40. Her best-selling novels have Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Romantic Suspense, and more. 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 soulmate husband and her soulmate dog near the sea in California she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!