Author: Tara Lain
Series: Love in Laguna, #1
Released: May 1st 2015
Length: 254 pages
How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor's license he so desires, and fear of his mother's judgement blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising star, celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?
Lain starts this new series with two rather interesting characters. Billy is a 25-year-old construction worker so deep in denial about his sexual orientation that he ignores even the most obvious clues. He is deeply insecure and timid and he constantly allows his family to run his life. Shaz is his exact opposite, bold, and very openly gay. He is practically a walking stereotype, a long-haired, elegant, effeminate stylist. Their lives collide over a wedding and while it takes them a while to admit their attraction – after all, Billy isn’t gay and Shaz wants nothing to do with closet cases – it soon becomes clear that the two are made for each other.
The book starts out with both of them in relationships with other people, which is something I strongly dislike in my romances. In fact, Shaz is in a relationship for most of the book, and although his boyfriend is portrayed as a lying, cheating, self-centered jerk, I still didn’t appreciate the obstacle he created for Billy and Shaz or the fact that Shaz was obviously intimate with him during the story. I can’t help it – as cynical as I am in real life, in romance I’m a hopeless romantic and a one-person-one-person kind of girl. Throwing someone else into the mix, even a despicable someone, is pretty much a deal-breaker for me.
Another thing that didn’t ring true was Billy’s cluelessness. I understand that people sometimes discover truths about themselves very late in life and that’s fine. We do things in our own time. But Billy’s blindness didn’t strike me as genuine; in fact, it made him seem a bit stupid at times which isn’t something I like to see in my heroes.
Overall, though, Knight of Ocean Avenue is a very cute story. It reminded me of a soap opera at times, but it was very readable and occasionally funny. If nothing else, it’s a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.