Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fool of Main Beach by Tara Lain

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 this far apart, who’s really the fool of Main Beach?

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Book 5
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I really enjoy this series and this book was just as awesome as the previous books. You do not have to read all the books in the series, but it would give you some background on other characters in this book. This story is about two totally different lifestyles crashing into each other and just working. Merle is a movie star and Tom is a blue collar worker. This was a heartwarming story. These two guys had it bad for each other and both thought the other deserved better. When Tom's sister joins the mix, I thought the poop was going to hit the fan, but she added to the story and helped knock some sense into these two lugs! Great story that made me shed a tear and melted my heart.

When the star of a teen vampire show is rescued from a gay-bashing, he finds himself drawn to the rescuer he initially describes as a Sasquatch. Tom is a gentle and very simple man who can’t help but want more than a friendship with the beautiful TV star.

As the odd man out in a family of important academics, Merle has always felt unimportant and slightly embarrassed by his career as an actor. In some ways, this is his growing up story as he is forced to choose between a partner who will impress his parents and a partner who will make him happy. I loved Merle’s conflicted reaction to Tom. The man is gorgeous and sweet but also very simple and childlike. He’s a refreshing change from the scheming people Merle meets in Hollywood, but Merle can’t bring himself to take advantage of someone so basically good.

I had a mixed reaction to Tom. I could appreciate Merle’s attraction. I couldn’t help but like Tom’s kind, gentle, and loyal nature. But for me, true love is as cerebral as it is physical and emotional. I struggled to see the balance in Merle and Tom’s relationship – even the sex didn’t feel quite right. I couldn’t see Merle moving beyond his role as Tom’s saviour and possibly even his caregiver. This is one of the more thought provoking romances I can remember reading because the relationship between Merle and Tom poses some interesting questions.

This isn’t as fluffy as some of the Balls to the Wall and Love in Laguna books, but it is fun and it’s a pretty light read. This is the fifth Love in Laguna story and I loved catching up with the characters from earlier books. Tom works for Billy. Merle wears Ru’s clothes, he acts with Grey, and he lives in their spare bedroom. To fully follow this story, readers will want to start this series at the beginning. This has been a fun, easy series from the start and I have enjoyed each one of the unlikely pairings.

3.5 Stars

I was highly anticipating Fool of Main Beach, enjoying the light amd fluffy, stress-free series to decompress and put a smile on my face. This installment of the Love in Laguna series didn't disappoint, but a few things did make me slightly uncomfortable, one of which I used to push the boundaries of my thinking.

A major happy point is seeing past narrators grace the pages, for levity and added lightheartedness, with a dose of warmth in the heart.

Merle Justice – I've been waiting for his book since he overindulged with drink books ago. The gay actor plays a teen heartthrob in a vampire TV series, on the cusp of critically acclaimed fame. No matter how many people he surrounds himself with – the previous narrators in the series – he's alone in a crowd. Merle tugged at my heartstrings.

Tom Henry is Sasquatch in a pink jacket – Merle's savior. He's kind, compassionate, understanding, protective, a volunteer, and a dog-lover, but also suffers from a lack of self-worth due to not being book-smart and because he's socially awkward (no filter, no true understanding of the trickery the majority of all people use in any given situation).

Together, the two guys made sense, adding opposing strengths to the relationship. But this was a romance that pushed the boundaries on my thinking. Not because I didn't think someone like Tom deserved Merle's love, but because I feared it not being enough in the future for Merle, as well as being taken advantage of. I realize this is fiction, and I applaud the author for writing a book that had me questioning my own mindset. It was difficult, because I was on the boundary of whether or not Tom was able to consent. I believed Merle and Tom loved one another, but the ease of which it would be to take advantage of Tom was a struggle, as well as fearing for situations in the future, which would no doubt come to pass if they were in reality.

I smiled with a warm heart. I laughed. I cried. But I couldn't pass out a 5-star rating, no matter the gamut my emotions ran. The angst between Merle and Tom felt a bit contrived, where a simple conversation would have cleared up any and all confusion – so no matter how much I enjoyed the couple and their journey, the push-pull of their romance felt forced.

The main reason was due to the over-the-top nature of the conflicts, the villainous characters were beyond anything in reality that it forced me to accept I was reading a book, instead of falling into it and escaping. Especially when I realized it was 75%+ of all females in the book (both mothers and the sister painted in a negative light, overbearing and abrasive or abusive – for the majority of the book, anyway). I would put my Kindle down and groan at the dialogue the 'bad' characters were saying, take a deep breath, and quickly read those portions as to not lose interest.

There was a lack of fluidity to the dialogue. In regards to Tom, it made sense due to how his mind functioned. But this flowed over into all dialogue, with choppy, short sentences, and everyone addressing everyone by name in most dialogue, even if they had greeted them already. Example made up off the top of my head, but a representation of what is on the pages during conversations: "Hi, Tom!" "Hi, Merle!" "Hi, Billy!" "How's it going, Tom?" "Great, Billy. How about you, Merle?" ... and so on, even when only two people were conversing, their names were used in the majority of all dialogue/interactions. I realize I'm being nitpicky, but this actually yanked me from the story. I probably wouldn't have noticed if it hadn't been a pet-peeve of mine when watching old TV shows, where that is the norm, one where my family is always wondering how many times a specific character's name is said in each episode.

I'm thankful I read Fool of Main Beach, and felt Tara Lain did justice to a character who I was waiting to read his story – Merle Justice. I enjoyed opening my mind and meeting Tom, being refreshed by his innocence (if you remove the terror I felt, in reality knowing someone like him would be swallowed whole by the sharks in Hollywood). I highly recommend this series to MM romance fans, and do look forward to what is to come.

Also Available in the Love in Laguna Series

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Dreamspinner Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Prince of the Playhouse post.

Book 4
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Dreamspinner Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Lord of a Thousand Steps post.

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. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Erotic Romance, 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”!

Connect with Tara

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Fool of Main Beach (Love in Laguna #5) by Tara Lain to read and review.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you all so much for reading Fool of Main Beach!! I know Tom is challenging, but he's a great favorite of mine and i appreciate you embracing him. Hugs. Tara


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