Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Though I normally love John Inman’s stories and I’ve salivated over the Belladonna Arms books, alternating between laughing and smiling over the sweet, sappy MM romances, this one just didn’t reach the bar set by the other four.
Usually, the stories are about a very nice young man who’s down on his luck and finds his way to the Belladonna Arms where the world’s biggest (and largest) drag queen, Arthur, takes him under his (considerable) wing and then the love pollen that seems to saturate the former hotel works its magic. And lo and behold, after some starts and stops, he falls in love with another very nice young man.
And that’s the case here at the beginning of the book: Reed has left his wife, having realized that he can’t push his homosexuality any further inside than he’s been doing for years. Gideon has broken up with his boyfriend, who very cruelly took all of Gideon’s possessions and donated them to Salvation Army. He only saved his laptop because it happened to be in the trunk of his car. Arthur has put both young men in apartments next to one another and is simply waiting for the love pollen to sprinkle their way. The Belladonna Arms seems to be infested with love pollen that has worked to bring other couples together in the past. The only issue with these two is that both young men are redheads and neither wants to fall in love with a redhead.
Soooo, of course, that’s what happens. They bond over the sorry state of their apartments, so Reed pulls out hammer and tools and sets about repairing both his and Gideon’s apartments, both having been sorely neglected in the past. For several weeks, all is well and then Reed’s ex-wife throws a wrench in the works just before Arthur’s wedding. Coinciding with all the usual craziness associated with wedding preparations, the San Diego area is experiencing tremors and small earthquakes—all of which send Arthur into screaming and hiding mode. The stress takes its toll on him and he ends up in the hospital—but not without visits from all the residents of the Arms. The big guy is a sweetheart and everyone secretly loves him.
Then Reed breaks Gideon’s heart…and leaves pieces all over the floor. He totally goes against all the promises he’s made to Gideon and leaves him in tatters. To be honest, this reader would not have taken him back. He pulled a really stupid, IMHO, stunt and should have been cut from the book, never mind from Gideon’s life. But love is blind, and this is fiction, so the two end up back together in time for the grand wedding event.
As I said earlier, this story just didn’t cut it for me. I don’t think my sense of humor has changed drastically over the years, but the Arthur earthquake and wedding scenes were too OTT for me. And Reed’s wife? Not even worth the pages she occupied in the book. Then there’s the chapter devoted to Reed and Gideon babysitting little Artie—the baby Sylvia and Raymond adopted—which I suppose to many may have been funny, but not to me. I had no interest in it or patience for it at all, and in fact, I’d have preferred the chapter be cut from the story.
I can stretch this to a 3 star rating, though if we all rated in half scales, I’d likely give it 2.5—mostly due to Reed’s ex-wife who is still irritating me, days after I finished reading the book. For those who have read other books in the series, I’d recommend reading this one and would be interested in other reviewers’ opinions. For those who haven’t read the series, this can’t stand alone and needs to be read after the others. Start with Serenading Stanley, which to me was the best, and work your way through. It’s a nice series of MM romances and worth taking the time to read.
Cover art by Aaron Anderson depicts a ginger young man at work welding, with open shirt, low-rise jeans, and with a darkly shaded apartment building in the background. Nicely done, it depicts Reed and the Belladonna Arms.
ebook, 240 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleGinger Snaps
Series The Belladonna Arms #5