Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Home Improvement—A Love Story by Tara Lain

Romance on Aisle Sixteen—opposites attract amid the hammers and screws of the home improvement store.

Gabe Mason became a father at seventeen, and his daughter, Ellie, is the most important thing in his life. But being the parent the courts demand means Gabe has given up most of his dreams—education, making furniture, a gay social life—to be a model dad with a steady, reliable job in a home improvement store. Life’s predictable until Jerry, a shy, eccentric guy in a hat and sunglasses, begs Gabe to oversee the renovation of his run-down mansion.

Gabe loves the house and the work, and Jerry's pretty lovable too, but when Gabe discovers Jerry’s secret identity, he fears their passion could overturn both their lives forever.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I loved this book. It was sweet and low on angst. I fell in love with Gabe instantly. I connected with him on all levels because I became a mom at 17. I knew right away what Jerry's big secret was but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. I loved how Ellie was a huge part of the story too. I wish this book came with pictures so I could see Jerry's house and Gabe's furniture. This was a sweet love story with a few minor bumps in the road on the way. Highly recommend.

Home Improvement was the perfect afternoon read. Read in one sitting, I was hooked from the start, finding the interactions between the characters realistic and endearing.

Gabe is a single dad to a teenage daughter. While he feels as if he's struggling at life, he isn't in the parental department. Ellie is a good kid, taking after her father, so no fear on this front. A solid character, Gabe's passion is working with his hands, seeing the finished product gives him pride, almost as much pride as when he looks at his daughter. He's an everyday Joe – a hard-working, flannel-wearing, tool swinging man who doesn't seek out relationships, because that will happen after his daughter has reached adulthood.

The best things in life come out of nowhere and take us by surprise.

Gabe meets Jerry out of the blue, quickly taken with the socially awkward fella who is in great need of help with his new home, which is in massive disrepair. As they work on the house together, the slow-burn of a new relationship is sparked, while a mystery of who Jerry truly is unfolds.

Cute, sweet, warm and fuzzy, with a few laughs and heart clenching moments, I was thoroughly entertained. There wasn't much angst, a bit of a feeling of betrayal due to evasion, which draws in the conflict.

Highly recommend for fans of Tara Lain, MM Romance, and those who enjoy romance with a slight age-gap, where the little shown demographic of those 30-something+ are shown as being worthy to find love and happiness.

Why didn't I pass out a 5-star rating?

First, I felt as Gabe did – felt played. As a reader, Jerry's dual personality was jarring. I understood the concept, but it also didn't quite ring true. Someone who has had Jerry's lifestyle since age 15, he might be an introvert, but socially awkward/inept? No. There's no way Jerry could go from acting like he's a bit slow to swaggering in front of the masses. While we all have the ability to don a persona, those personality traits still carry through. This didn't work for me.

The second con, which was the biggest distraction of the novel for me. Gabe's ex-wife/Ellie's mother. That entire thread of storyline was over-the-top in the extreme. Do I believe it might happen in real life? Plausible. I just felt it took away from the story, instead of adding to it. It made me groan aloud every time it was shown on the page. There was enough conflict dealing with Jerry's identity, with Ellie almost an adult, the strange, irrational, and over-the-top conflict dealing with the ex's fiancé was baffling and lessened my overall enjoyment. This is coming from someone who isn't religious, but it felt as if a dig was being made to religious folks, like they're all crazies. Along with showing mature-age women as being desperate, weak, and foolish. With how much focus was on Gabe having custody of Ellie since the beginning, with her almost being an adult, with the courts taking that all into consideration, this entire thread was unnecessary and distracting.

This is a really well written story, which I devoured in one go, late into the night! It matched up an ordinary single dad and fun teenage daughter, with a hiding reclusive, yet very famous rock star.

Gabe is leading the best life he can to ensure that Ellie gets everything she needs and gets to stay with him. That means he has to compromise on his own career – but a meeting with a man in aisle 16 gives him an unexpected new start. It was fun watching the two men strike up a friendship and act on their attraction. Inevitably there are complications, and self-doubt creeps in, but I liked how they maintained good communication lines. What I didn't really like was the issues of Ellie's mum, but they were peripheral enough not to really distract too much.

Overall, a cute and enjoyable story; thank you, Tara Lain.

This is a gentle, feel-good romance with immensely likeable characters. Single father Gabe never imagined that the very odd customer he served at the hardware store would change his life. But despite his many eccentricities, Jerry manages to get under Gabe’s skin.

I really loved the characters in this story. Gabe is a young father who has put his life on hold to provide the stability his daughter needs. But with Ellie almost ready for college, Gabe’s life starts to feel empty and the unusual employment Jerry offers finally allows him to use his skills and develop his talent. Jerry is more of an enigma for most of the story but there are enough hints that readers will guess his secrets before Gabe does.

This is a slow-burn romance with a focus on the emotional connection between Gabe and Jerry rather than the romantic or sexual connection. There is some heat near the end of the story. I loved Gabe’s relationship with his daughter – Ellie adds charm and colour to the whole book. I’m a huge fan of home renovation stories and I love the property porn in this book. There is something slightly disjointed about the story. The first ¾ moves slowly and carefully while the last quarter races almost breathlessly to a fantasy style ending that jars against the quiet realism at the start. Without spoilers, I almost understand the sudden change, but I preferred the start of the story to the end.

TARA LAIN writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Erotic Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, and Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. Readers often call her books “sweet,” even with all that hawt sex, because Tara believes in love and her books deliver on happily-ever-after. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. Her love of creating book titles comes from years of manifesting ad headlines for everything from analytical instruments to semiconductors. She does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soulmate husband and her soulmate dog (who’s a little jealous of all those cat pictures Tara posts on FB) in Laguna Niguel, California, near the seaside towns where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says that on her tombstone, it will say “Yes!”

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Home Improvement by Tara Lain to read and review.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, Angie, Erica, Sarah and Ruthie, for reading Home Improvement -- A Love Story. I'm honored you all picked it up and delighted that you liked it. Hugs!


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