A Jeri Release Day Review: ​Snow Balls (Balls to the Wall #6) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Another in the Balls to the Wall series by Tara Lain. While it was an ok read, it definitely wasn’t my favorite.
Ultimately it had a good message: be true to yourself and who you are. And that went for BOTH of the main characters.
Even though his friends warned him not to, JJ pretended to be who he wasn’t. The big football player type guy was really a queen who loves pink and is deathly afraid of spiders. But he doesn’t think that newly transplanted cop Ryan went for femme guys. So he gets a crash course on football, does everything not to flail his arms around when he is talking and tries to act super masculine. And Ryan falls for it.
But Ryan has his own secret. He doesn’t want his coworkers to know that he is gay. And while he had a reason for this, this still kind of bugged me. They were in Laguna which is kind of known as a having a large gay community. If you are going to move from NYC to Laguna, be yourself! But alas, he wanted to stay in the closet.
Inevitably the truth comes out for both. And both men need to learn to love and accept themselves so that others will love and accept them as well.
Fairly fluffy with a couple of dark points- mainly the past rearing it’s ugly head for both characters- it was an ok read. It felt like it jumped around a bit and for Ryan who was determined to stay in the closet, he rationalizes hanging out with JJ in public. Even going away for the weekend.
They were a cute couple who reversed the “norms” (big guy alpha, smaller guy beta) and we got to see most of the previous characters in the series which was nice. Ultimately I am glad it was a short book.
Cover art by Reese Dante is cute and fits in with the rest of the series.
Sales Links:GoodreadsDreamspinner Kindle  | iTunes  | Kobo  | Nook
Book Details:
ebook, 2nd Edition, 121 pages
Published December 6th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published December 5th 2012)
ISBN139781634773669
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBalls to the Wall #4, Balls to the Walls (DSP) #6

A Jeri Release Day Review: High Balls (Balls to the Wall #6) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
This has, by far, been my favorite of the series Balls to the Wall. The story, characters and writing were so much more in depth than the previous installments. Each book has gotten better, from book 1 which was kind of meh, to this one which I really enjoyed.
Single gay dads are not new to the genre. But I think this is the first one I have read that he is not the biological father, but married the mother (his best friend) and is on the birth certificate. So while he is trying to be the perfect dad, while working and pursuing his PHD, he immediately drawn to a bartender covered in tattoos, who rides a Harley and is known as Snake.
But looks can be deceiving.
Theodore’s son was really funny and a great additional character who held his own. Which he should, being that Theodore wanted to make the best life for him. He also showed that with his simple acceptance of Snake, that kids really can be great judges of character. They see what is on the inside first, not the outside.
There was a lot that happened in the book- in laws, PhD, new relationships, friends, school politics, bullying…. but it never seemed over loaded. There was a nice twist toward the end that I didn’t necessarily expect and lots of visits by some previous characters.
This can definitely be read as a stand alone, but like I said, they start out as meh and work their way up from there.
Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  The cover is great, has all the right elements and captures the reader’s attention.
Sales Links:  Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Dreamspinner Press
Book Details:
ebook, 163 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635334753
Edition Language English
setting Laguna Beach, California (United States)

A Jeri Review: F.A.S.T. Balls (Balls to the Wall #5) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This book is part of a series but can easily be read as a stand alone. The characters overlap but you really don’t miss much if you miss a book.

This installment focuses on Jerry- a firefighter who constantly puts himself down as not smart enough. Not smart enough for his friends or the guys he dates or whatever. That kind of gets old.

Mick is a fellow firefighter and a giant homophobe. You know what that usually means- gay guy in the closet. And while I wasn’t really into Jerry falling for this jerk- Mick’s back story redeemed his behavior. Mostly. Mick’s father is the head of a cult like religious group that hates gay people. So even though he was raised that way and has the posturing of someone who thinks all gay people are going to hell, he is fighting the internal struggle of being gay himself.

Mick ended up being way more endearing than Jerry who was pretty boring. But even then, I was hoping for a lot more action from the religious cult. The threat was always there but nothing really happened.

Jerry and Mick together were ok, but I really felt like Jerry was settling for a guy who was a raging homophobe. That just didn’t sit right with me.

So they story was ok, I don’t regret reading it, but if there are more in the series I hope they are better.

Cover art by Reese Dante is dramatic and works for the storyline.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition , 153 pages
Expected publication: July 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 18th 2013)
ISBN139781635334746
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBalls to the Wall #5 settingCalifornia (United States)

A Jeri Review: Beach Balls (Balls to the Wall #3) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Adam is a workaholic lawyer firmly entrenched in the closet. The only time he gets to “be gay” is when his friend throws parties that allow other men like himself to be free. He meets Sky during one of those weekends, but quite by accident. Even though on the surface neither is the other’s type- they have crazy chemistry. Until uber environmentalist Sky finds out that Adam is a lawyer working for a developer and they are fighting over the same parcel of land.

Book three was a bit of a departure from the other two in the series. Not that that is a bad thing, but is just didn’t flow with the vibe of the others. The character connection between this one and previous seemed as an afterthought.

While this was a decent story, it really needed to be fleshed out a bit more. I have nothing against short novels (this one clocks in at just over 100 pages) but it all plays out over a short time frame. Too short for ideologies to change as they did. And they were together so few times, it just didn’t make sense to change so much.

There were parts I really enjoyed, parts that made me roll my eyes a bit and parts that were smoking hot. Ultimately, I needed more. Their connection just wasn’t there for me.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  Eye catching cover and font definitely draws you to the book.

Sales Links

AMAZON | iBooks | Kobo  | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 115 pages
Expected publication: May 8th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 4th 2012)
ISBN 1634773659 (ISBN13: 9781634773652)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBalls to the Wall #3 settingCalifornia (United States)
Newport Beach, California (United States)

Its Tara Lain on Inspiration and her novel, Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain (guest post)

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Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

       

Plus iBooks

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 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Tara Lain here today.  Welcome, Tara.  Tell us more about Fire Balls and your series!

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Book Ideas are a Ball!

Hi everyone. I am so happy to be visiting Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and celebrating the re-release of my book, Fire Balls. Where do the stories come from? That’s one of the questions all writers get asked a lot. I used to wonder that too. I’m a non-fiction writer by long-time profession and for years people would say I should write a book. That sounded like work!  LOL. Then I discovered LGBT romance and loved it so much I wrote my first novel, a book called Genetic Attraction, based on the genetic research of a company I knew from my day job.

What I discovered writing that first book is that creating fiction is like sex. The more you have the more you want! Once I turned on the story spigot it just kept running and everything I see and person I meet has book potential (yes, be afraid!). For example, I have lived in or near a beautiful beach town in California. It’s famous for its art festivals. Bingo. What if my hero was one of the people who poses as a nude statue in the famous Pageant of the Masters? And what if my other hero was a hunky alpha male who’s gay but in the closet. That’s was the idea for the best-selling summer romance, Volley Balls.

In Volley Balls, I created a memorable character named Rodney who was my hero’s best friend. He was an unlikely hero himself–short and flamboyant —  but he wanted his own book. That’s how I got to bring you my beach romance, Fire Balls. Actually, the title came first. People told me they loved the title Volley Balls and I was thinking of “Balls” titles. When I thought of the name Fire Balls a whole story started to form. What if my hero, Rodney, was a great artist who has a passion for a firefighter but can’t imagine that the man could ever care for him, the short and weird? So when his good friend, the handsome surfer Jerry, develops an unexpected crush on the firefighter, Rodney helps Jerry woo the guy, breaking his own heart. The story is loosely based on the famous book, Cyrano de Bergerac. Very loosely!

See, stories do come from everywhere. I have a whole series called The Pennymaker Tales that pay homage to fairy tales. The third book in the Balls to the Wall series, Beach Balls, is based on an actual environmental dispute that took place a few years ago in Newport Beach California. When a friend told me about it I thought what if two guys fell in love and then found themselves on opposite sides of that case. I also included in the story the passion for rebreather diving of one of my best friends. The story of Knight of Ocean Avenue, my most popular novel, came from me watching the construction workers renovating my house and wondering if any of them were gay. LOL. The stories are all around us – we only have to pay attention and take notes!

I hope you enjoy Fire Balls!

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Excerpt: FIRE BALLS by Tara Lain; The Artist and the Firefighter

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

He leaned back on the couch. “Anyway, he’s dreamy, straight-up divine. Sweet and nice and smart. Shit, man, have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”

Too much. Rod got up and went back to the easel. At least he didn’t have to stare into Jerry’s smitten face. Crap, he wanted to be happy for the guy. He really did. “He’s beautiful, all right.”

“And guess what? He asked about you.”

No breath. “He, uh, did?”

“Yeah. Said you were so talented. See, I told you not to leave.”

“Didn’t want to be a third wheel.”

“Hey, my man, you’re my brother from another mother. What I got, you got. So I’m going on another date with him, and he loves to read and shit. Could you tell me some stuff to talk about?”

Oh dear God. “So what have you read, Jerry?”

He looked at his hands. “I, uh, read a few romance novels.”

“I think it’s okay to talk about those, but you have to know some other writers too. So think. What did you read in high school?”

“Comic books.”

“Graphic novels?”

“Yeah. Man, I love Watchmen and X-Men and Batman.”

“Comic books.” He walked over to a bookshelf he kept tucked away in the corner of the studio. When he rested on the couch, he loved to read himself to sleep. “Have you ever heard of Lord Byron?”

Jerry shook his head. “Sounds like a rock star.”

“He kind of was for his time. He was a poet.” He took out a slim volume and began to read from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean—roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; man marks the earth with ruin—his control stops with the shore.” When he got to “unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown” he looked up.

Jerry’s big blue eyes shone with tears. “Hey, man, that’s awesome. Probably not a surfer, I guess. All the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ sound kind of old. But that dude knew what a surfer feels, man. We ride on top of the—what did he call it?—deep and dark blue ocean. And we know we can sink and never be heard from again, man. Axed. It’s how we want to go if we gotta.”

He had to stop underestimating this man. Rod walked over to the couch and handed the book to Jerry. “Just be yourself. He’s got to love you.”

“Wow, thanks. But I’ll read this, man. Every word, or at least the words I understand, okay?”

He smiled. “Okay.”

“I sure do like the way you read it, though.”

Rod laughed, took back the book, and began to read.

_____________________________________________________________________________

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About the Author

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 and she’s now somewhere around book 35. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, 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 near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/taralain

A Jeri Release Day Review: Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

31189-bk2bcover2b-2bfire2bballI am quite torn about this book and review. While I absolutely love Tara Lain’s “Love in Laguna” series, so far this series has left me wanting. While I did enjoy the story line and the characterizations, the writing as a whole seems to be inferior (to me!) to the other series. But, I will try to give you a fair review here.

Rodney is a local artist with a super crush on a firefighter. So much of a crush that he semi-stalks the firehouse hoping to get a glimpse of him. He believes this is all in vain because he assumes that Hunter is straight.

Hunter is a firefighter, living out his father’s dream, when really he wants to be a teacher. And even though he lives in a very gay friendly town, he isn’t really out. Especially with a homophobic co-worker.

But then Rodney’s friend starts crushing on Hunter as well and thinking that Hunter would go for surfer manly Jerry instead of sort of fem, total artist him, he acts as matchmaker.  But that is a hard façade to maintain when he is painting Hunter. In the nude.

I absolutely LOVED Rodney. I loved the artist, the friend and the completely unapologetic gay man. He has no problem being flamboyant, and if you have a problem with it- too bad. Hunter was cute and while I did like him I wanted to smack him and tell him to grow a spine.

The dynamic between Rodney and Hunter was great. The author did a great job of challenging stereotypical norms with them. It was quite refreshing.

So while I did enjoy the book and the characters, the level of writing just wasn’t at the caliber I expect of Tara Lain.

The book is part of a series, but can be read as a stand alone.

The cover art by Reese Dante is an excellent depiction of both main characters.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition
Expected publication: February 8th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 31st 2012)
ISBN 1634773640 (ISBN13: 9781634773645)
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingCalifornia (United States)

SeriesBalls to the Wall :

Volley Balls (Balls to the Wall #1)

Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2)

Tara Lain with 10 Fun Fact on Volley Balls (Balls to the Wall #1) and an Excerpt! (guest post)

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Volley Balls (Balls to the Wall #1) by Tara Lain
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

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amazon square borderB&N borderKobo border

And at iBooks

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tara Lain here today talking about her latest release Volley Balls! Welcome, Tara!

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10 Fun Facts About Volley Balls by Tara Lain

Hi everyone! I’m Tara Lain, I write the Beautiful Boys of Romance, and I’m here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words celebrating the re-release of my very popular novella, Volley Balls. The book is revised and expanded and I thought I’d share 10 Fun Facts about my new book –

  1. The new version of Volley Balls is almost twice as long as the original
  2. Volley Balls is a MMM ménage. All the other books in the series are MM.
  3. I never felt that the love between all three men was fully explored in the original story. That’s why I expanded it.
  4. 3. The story was once going to be called David and Goliath, but I changed my mind shortly into the book and named it after two of the heroes who are volleyball players. Volley Balls was born.
  5. The original book was supposed to be part of a multi-author anthology, taking place on the beach. The book was so popular, however, it spawned an entire series
  6. Volley Balls was the first story I set in Laguna Beach, CA. Since then, I’ve written 13 or 14 more books in this same setting.
  7. Volley Balls was the third book I ever wrote and as it generated more books in the series, I became known as the “Balls girl”. I have other better known books now, but these were my first bestsellers.
  8. Naming the Balls books has always been a fun game for my readers. You would barely believe some of the names they’ve come up with – and I love them so much, I wish I could write a story for each one.
  9. Part of Volley Balls takes place at the famous Pageant of the Masters, a real live event in Laguna every summer during which live actors portray works of art. Some of them play nude artworks just as my hero in Volley Balls is the statue of David.
  10. Two of my heroes in Volley Balls are Australian – actually one’s an American raised in Australia – and Australia is a country I’ve visited and love. So far, these are my only Aussie romantic heroes.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Volley Balls. Below is a nibble from the book.

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Excerpt: Volley Balls by Tara Lain – Revised and Expanded

A double dose of alpha male might be better than one.

 

Despite just getting out of an abusive relationship with an asshole alpha, David Underwood’s wandering glance lands on two hot members of the Australian volleyball team on Laguna Beach and gets him harassed again. Still, when the delicious Gareth Marshall proves his interest by coming out to his team, David succumbs to his attraction. But Gareth’s volleyball partner, Edge, who’s equally hot, makes the lover’s lives miserable.

For Gareth, a lifetime of hiding his orientation—and his attraction—from his best friend, Edge, as well as everyone else around him, adds up to hurt and frustration. David’s the first man to ever compete with Edge for Gareth’s passion. But Edge has secrets of his own, and David’s ex-lover will never be happy without David under his fist. With everything stacked against him, can a gay Laguna man find happiness with an alpha male–or two?

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Gareth shifted uneasily in the darkened amphitheater. Another scene change. The effects were lovely and sometimes awe-inspiring, but he’d gotten the idea in the first half hour. He was ready to go.

He glanced to his left at Edge, who seemed fascinated with the show. Intriguing, since Edge had the attention span of a gnat. The other guys were more restless, jabbing each other when the bare-breasted art pieces appeared, but they managed to stay on the near side of rude.

He settled back for the duration. Maybe a little catnap. The lights came up as he started to close his eyes. He heard an indrawn breath and looked up. Holy, bloody, everlasting hell.

In the center of the vast stage, on a rotating platform in a single perfect spotlight, was David, the masterwork of Michelangelo. Gareth had seen it in Florence several times, and every sense he had told him he was looking at the actual statue, although his mind knew this was a human being. Glowing, luminous, absolutely still… sweet bloody Christ, how could someone do it? How could they have found a person so perfect?

He noticed a deep stillness in the audience and also among his mates. Edge was absolutely motionless. Unusual for him. But the statue, the guy, was just that beautiful.

Gareth cocked his head. The model’s legs were not as big and muscular as the Michelangelo. This “statue” was a bit leaner and even more graceful. The pedestal kept turning. He squinted. Bloody hell, he’d seen that perfect ass before. He peered into the pool of light as the David rotated. He’d seen those amazing cheekbones.

It was the guy from the beach and the shop. Gareth rifled through his program for the name. David Underwood. The one who owned the gallery. The fag. Gareth shifted onto his hip, leaning away from Edge. Wouldn’t do to let his pouf-hating friend see his massive erection.

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About the Author

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 and she’s now somewhere around book 35. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, 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 near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/taralain