Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Tara Lain’s KNAVE OF BROKEN HEARTS, a contemporary M/M Romance. While this is the second series in the Love in Laguna series, it can be easily enjoyed as a standalone book. I really liked the KNIGHT OF OCEAN AVENUE and looked forward to this story. Jim is a construction worker with a dark past and Ken is a Japanese-American physician with willful parents. Can they make it work?
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About the book:Jim Carney has a full time job—running from himself. Since he walked out on his wealthy family at sixteen because he’d wrecked his best friend’s life over some yaoi graphic novels, Jim has lived a macho, blue-collar existence of too much booze and too little responsibility. Then Billy Ballew, the man Jim most admires, gives Jim a chance to come through as his construction supervisor. For once, Jim is determined to make someone proud. Then Jim goes in for a physical for his new job and his yaoi dream comes to life in the form of cardiologist Ken Tanaka. Jim discovers he has two heart problems—a wonky mitral valve and a serious attraction to his doctor. But Ken is a major player, and Jim might be just a notch on the doc’s stethoscope. To Ken, Jim is unforgettable—but the living embodiment of his traditional family’s worst nightmares.
How come the minute Jim decides to be responsible, he finds himself taking care of his kid brother, getting a proposal from a wealthy woman, making a deal with the devil, and winding up in the hospital—when all he really wants is the Knave of Broken Hearts?
How about a little taste?
He looked up at Ken Tanaka standing in the door to the inner office. The doc came to get Jim
“Are you okay? You look upset?”
“Oh no, not exactly.”
“Want to come in?”
He stood and walked through the door, inhaling Tanaka’s spicy/sweet scent that filled his head like smoke. God, he felt disoriented, like he didn’t know which world he lived in—one where he went out on dates with a rich woman, or one in which he gazed into the beautiful eyes of Yaoi Man and got a hard-on. Hell, both of them had to be fantasyland.
Ken motioned him into a private office that wasn’t an examining room. “Please, take a seat.”
Jim sat in a guest chair in front of Ken’s desk, and the doc walked all the way around to
sit in his big leather chair. Very professional. Very distant. Very not a good
sign. “So I got back the results of your echocardiogram.”
“Yeah?” Shit, they should take another test right now. The way his heart hammered in his ears, he’d sure as fuck fail.
“Your mitral valve prolapse is what I would call moderate to severe. It’s difficult to tell exactly without doing surgery.”
“Surgery?” Close your mouth, idiot.
“Yes, that’s how a severely, shall we say, floppy valve is corrected.”
“Floppy?” It came out like a squeak.
“I’m not recommending surgery now. We’re going to observe over the next few months. I want you to let me know any problems, arrhythmic heartbeats, racing heart, chest pains, anything irregular that might occur, okay?”
Shit, all of that was so regular for him, and he was so not going to tell Tanaka that. He nodded.
“Don’t worry. Mitral valve prolapse is quite common. Most people never have any real difficulty. Just follow my directions. Don’t drink excessively, eat healthy food, even organic would be advisable, and avoid stress.”
Jim’s mouth opened, then closed. He was okay on the drinking thing so far, although this news made him want to down a bottle of Jack. Still, on the other stuff, the doc might as well say fly to the moon and bring back some green cheese. Hell, even being around Tanaka could give him a fucking heart attack. Sitting here thinking he might die any moment, and his cock still wanted to escape his jeans just from looking at the doctor’s lips. Maybe that’s how he’d go out. Lean over and kiss Ken Tanaka. Bye-bye, Charlie.
“Does that all seem doable?”
Jim nodded. “Does, uh, that mean I don’t get the insurance?” Jesus, that would be bad.
“No. As I told you, mitral valve prolapse is common. I’ve signed the papers and turned them in. You should get the approval with no problem. You’re officially no longer a patient.”
That felt both good and bad. “Thanks, man.”
“My pleasure. As I say, it’s not an inherently worrisome diagnosis.” Ken sat back in his chair. “So you’re hooking up with our sexy landlord, huh?” He smiled, but something seemed phony about it.
“Uh, no. She was just talking to me about how to build out her suites. And she, uh, has some
more work for us.”
Ken stood and walked toward the door of his office. “I don’t know, buddy. I’d look out for her. You could find yourself hooked.”
Buddy? Seriously? “I won’t worry too much. You told me to avoid stress.” He walked over to the door, looked at Ken, then glanced away. “You seem to have a new boyfriend. Cute guy.”
He frowned. “My mother fixed us up.”
“Seriously?” Jim snorted a laugh.
“You, my friend, are not Japanese, or you’d understand.”
“You were born in Japan?” Ken had no accent at all.
“No, I was born in Costa Mesa, but—well, it’s complicated. So don’t worry about your heart. My office manager is gone, but she’ll call you to make an appointment in about two months. Meanwhile, I’m serious about contacting me if anything unusual occurs.”
“With your health, crazy man.” He smiled, and this time it reached his eyes.
Two months. He had no excuse to see Ken Tanaka for two months. Hell, that was good news. Maybe
he’d get his feet back under him, if he didn’t die of a heart attack first. “Thanks again for
helping me with the architect thing.”
Ken raised an eyebrow. “Is it working out with Willings?”
“Yeah. He assigned one of the young guys in his office to handle the drawings, and he’s
great. He’s really saved my ass.”
“Good. See, I helped relieve your stress.” He sounded sad.
“Yeah.” He stuck out his hand. Ken took it, and heat traveled up Jim’s arm all the way to his heart. “Guess I’ll see you in two months.”
“Don’t marry any guys you don’t want to marry.” He tried to grin.
Ken didn’t grin. “I’ll try.”
Jim has many issues–he’s an alcoholic and just coming to terms with his sexuality, at age 27. He’s pretty sure that he’s not into women. Because, while he’s always dated women, he can only get off sexually while imagining yaoi–a type of Japanese erotic comic. Essentially, yaoi is gay graphic art, and Jim has been hooked on it since he was a teen.
Jim was raised in an affluent home, but he walked away after his homophobic father, a powerful cardiovascular physician, learned of his yaoi interests. Now, eleven years later, Jim is finally getting his life together. His best work pal, Billy, has hired him on as stie manager for a tenant improvement project while Billy and his new husband go on their honeymoon. All Jim must do is complete the physical–which brings him close to Dr. Ken Tanaka, the living embodiment of Jim yaoi fantasies. Dr. Tanaka is a young, brilliant cardiologist who is investigating the severity of Jim’s newly diagnosed heart murmur.
And that’s a big problem because being anywhere close to Dr. Tanaka makes Jim’s heart pound.
Ken Tanaka is the dutiful son of Japanese immigrants. His mother has finally stopped trying to convince Ken to marry a suitable Japanese girl, but Ken’s not sure that he’s able to appease his mother by dating the gay men she arranges for him, either. See, Ken’s totally, unethically drawn to his patient, Jim. He practically pants for Jim’s burliness and honesty, and is frustrated that (ha, ha!) all the good ones are straight.
They find themselves in close quarters more than once, and the chemistry is off the charts. Jim, despite his fantasies, has not had a gay encounter since his first sexual partner at 16 and Ken is a desirable man–one other men and women find very attractive. How can he, a high school dropout and self-taught construction supervisor be a catch for his sexy cardiologist? Also, Jim’s distracted by his new roommate–his 18 y/o younger brother whose been kicked out for coming out as gay. Ian’s a sweet boy, eager to please and get on with his interrupted life, and becomes a fantastic confidant to his sexually-confused elder brother.
I so loved the interplay between expectation and reality, here. Both Ken and Jim want each other, but neither will take the first step on account of believing that it will go nowhere. Plus, Jim isn’t sure he can be with a man–at first. But life takes a strange turn when friends of the boy Ken is set up with turn out to have criminal intent and Jim is called to rescue Ken from some pretty dire circumstances. Their proximity is too much for Jim to resist–especially when Ken wants him so openly.
Still,it’s a tricky business, this coming together. Jim and Ken have professional and personal responsibilities that aren’t going away, and at least one man’s heart is set for breaking. I really enjoyed the slow burn, and struggled with the complications of this love story. Jim is a closet case, with lucrative reasons for staying so, and Ken has a lot of family pressure to accept his mom’s hand-picked husband candidate. There’s a good bit of bitter to go with the sweet here, as both men figure out the way to make their plans and their attractions work in concert. I loved the steamy bits and only wished it was a bit rosier of a story–but appreciated the honest issues that plagued both Ken and Jim. Jim has to choose to come out, and Ken has to choose to stand up to his parents–neither are easy choices for them to make. The HEA was excellent after all that turmoil.
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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 23. Her bestselling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary 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 soulmate husband and her soulmate 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”!
You can find Tara at:
4 thoughts on “Life as the KNAVE OF BROKEN HEARTS–Review & Giveaway”
Veronica, thank you so much for reading Knave of Broken Hearts and for the thoughtful review! So honored to be on the site. : )