Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Tara Lain. LORD OF A THOUSAND STEPS is the fourth book in her Love in Laguna series. I really enjoyed KNIGHT OF OCEAN AVENUE, and PRINCE OF THE PLAYHOUSE, so I couldn’t wait to read this one! It features Ian, younger brother of Jim–star of KNAVE OF BROKEN HEARTS–and so we get to follow Jim and Ken all the way to the alter, through Ian’s eyes.
Catch the excerpt and enter to win a $15 gift card down below!
About the book:
To architecture student Ian Carney, family means everything. Taken in by his brother, Jim, when his father threw him out at eighteen for being gay, Ian yearns to create his own family with his boyfriend, Rico. But Rico’s in Mexico caring for a sick father, Ian hasn’t had sex in a month and a half, and his gorgeous boss, Braden Lord, CEO of the architectural firm Ian interns for, is looking better and better.
Braden’s life is chaos. Just out of the closet and going through an ugly divorce from his wife of fifteen years who’s trying to take custody of his two children, he desperately resolves not to succumb to a completely inappropriate attraction to Ian—even though his kids adore both the man and his crazy cat.
When Rico proves to be a snake in the grass and Ian exercises his powers of seduction, what starts as a “friends with benefits” fling turns into real life real fast. Can Ian give up his romantic dreams for an “old guy” who didn’t come out until he carried a mountain of baggage? It’ll only take a thousand steps.
How about a little taste?
“Daddy! Daddy! Look at the kitty.”
The high-pitched squeal cut through Ian’s foggy brain.
Anderson shifted on his belly, then started to vibrate.
Ian opened an eye and met two gigantic blue ones only a couple of feet away. The little girl squatted down beside him on the sand in her Frozen bathing suit, gently petting Anderson’s head and getting the motorcycle response. Ian grinned. “Hi.”
She eyed him with a grain of suspicion, but the allure of the purr proved too great and she kept petting. “Hello. What’s his name?”
“That’s a most unusual name for a cat.”
He snorted, and one of her little brows rose in an expression so far beyond her years—which appeared to be somewhere around five or six—that Ian almost snorted again. Almost. One didn’t face such disdain lightly. “Yes. I suppose it is. Have you ever heard of Anderson Cooper?”
“Uh, I believe so.” She raised her head, looking behind Ian, and said, “Have I heard of Anderson Cooper, Daddy?”
Daddy? Okay, he hadn’t moved so as not to disturb the petting frenzy. Now he scrambled to sitting, getting a yowl from Anderson, and looked behind him. Well, holy shit.
Braden Lord leaned against the rocks, one hip cocked slightly, and Ian knew that because he wore very little on those hips. Just a pair of slim-fitting board shorts that cupped an ass on its way to legend and thighs Ian could only imagine in X-rated postures.
“Hi. I mean, I didn’t see you there. Sorry.” Ian brushed sand from his legs and tried to find some moderately respectable posture that wouldn’t show his half-masted cock.
“Providing a resting place for fifty-pound felines does tend to keep you in one place.” Lord laughed. “Don’t see mountain lions much on the beach.”
“Never know when you might need protection from small angels in Frozen bathing suits.”
The little girl had flopped on her butt and now proceeded to pile sand on top of Anderson, who cooperated by stretching to his full, massive length. She gave Ian that eyebrow again. “Are you referring to me?”
Best sidestep that one. Ian extended a hand. “How do you do. I’m Ian Carney. I work for your—” He glanced up at Braden. “—daddy.”
She took his hand and shook it seriously. “I’m Mireille Lord. And I really like your cat.”
“What a pretty name.” It sounded like Mir-ray. “I’m sure Anderson likes it too.”
“Thank you. My daddy picked it out.” She glanced up at Braden as she piled more sand on the cat. “Have I heard of Anderson Cooper, Daddy?”
Braden replied very seriously, “He’s a news reporter, Mireille. You might remember him because his hair is the same color as the kitty.”
“I see.” She gave Ian an approving grin. “How very clever of you.”
4.5 Stars. This is the fourth book in the contemporary M/M romance Love in Laguna series, but can be enjoyed on its own.
Ian is a 21 year old architecture student with a prime internship at Lord & Kendrick, a well-regarded firm. His boyfriend of the past three years, Rico, has returned to Mexico to visit his ailing father, and has promised to return so he and Ian can get an apartment together. Currently, Ian lives with his brother Jim and Jim’s fiance, Ken. Their courtship was the topic of Book 2 in this series. Jima nd Ken have a deep love, and are getting ready for their wedding. It’s a great example of the kind of loving bond Ian wants, and the family he’s desperate to build, after his wealthy father cut him off for being gay three years before.
Braden Lord is a 37 year old man, top of his game in architecture, yet struggling to hold onto custody of his two kids now that he’s coming out and divorcing his wife. He deeply loves his children and feels he’s been the emotional connection in their lives–as his wife is a bit bitter and might be more interested in new shoes than caring for her offspring. Braden feels bad about his subterfuge, but he didn’t feel like he had a choice once he accidentally helped conceive Jo-Jo, his 14 y/o son. And 5 year old Mireille is a treasure he’ll never regret…but, Braden’s not had a lot of experience being gay. He was generally abstinent, and he doesn’t know how to be out. Plus, he hasn’t actually come out, exactly. He’s shamefully attracted to young Ian, who is fun and attentive, and a little starry-eyed over Mr. Lord, the famous architect. Add that they live near each other, and Braden’s kids meet and adore both Ian and his cat, Anderson Cooper, and it’s a muddle.
As the weeks go by, Ian’s upset that he rarely hears from Rico, and that he’s attracted to sexy silver fox Braden Lord. It doesn’t help that Rico strings him along for over a month before texting Ian that he won’t be coming back at all. While Ian digs into that mess for understanding and closure, he’s also drawn into a close connection with Braden, due to a client request. Gotta love assertive women! Braden’s uncomfortable spending so much time with Ian, but he can’t get out of the agreement he made with the client for this new design,. That Ian’s actually helpful in the initial concept and CAD drawings makes Braden more uncomfortable in lusting after his new assistant.
Thing is, once Rico cut the cord, Ian’s a free man, and he’s eager to help Braden learn all there is to being a gay single man–plus, the rapport with the kids is deepening, too. I liked the kid dynamic, though I felt Mireille’s speech was (oddly) more formal than a Brit ex-pat at a tea shop. I’ve got precocious kids, and her diction was the wrong side of condescending, for me. That said, I got the flavor of it. She’s a bit bossy and demanding and Braden’s doting permissiveness was beneficial, because giving Mireille her way also meant getting lots of face time with his fave boy candy.
It’s Ian who makes all the moves, though. He knows it’s a bad career move, but he’s also way attracted. Braden, who should know better, does put the brakes on a few times, but not before it causes some trouble for his divorce settlement.
This is a sweet read, that I wished had MORE STEAM. There’s such a wealth of opportunity here, yet, we didn’t experience much of it. The plot’s nice, but there were lots of times I wanted less family drama, and more romance. I was rather shocked at how Ian took charge, that first time, and expected more fall-out in the office politics game. I really enjoyed this family, though, and how Ian made it complete. The divorce drama wasn’t TOO overwhelming; I hate to think that these fictional legal issues and conversations were indicative of real-life proceedings, but I’m sure they are. Which is sad. Braden’s ex’s attorney is a hateful woman, and his ex is no prize, which was odd, considering she was a decent woman back in the day–it seemed. As a woman, I hate reading hateful women. It’s aggravating, so those scenes were always tough, for me.
That said, I love how Braden made the grand gesture, and Ian found a family that really loved him. Not that his brother and ken didn’t–because they really do–but because Ian deserves to be an integral part of a loving family, and he really gets that in Braden’s house. Plus, beach house on the cliff? Yes, please.
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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: