Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release day review and giveaway for a new M/M romance coming soon from Tara Lain. FIRE BALLS is the second book in her Balls to the Wall series and features a subdued fireman fighting the heat he feels for a flamboyant artist. I really enjoyed VOLLEY BALLS, the first book in this series, though FIRE BALLS can be enjoyed on its own.
Catch the excerpt and enter to win a $10 GC and book giveaway below!
About the book:
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.
How about a little taste?
Jerry 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?”
“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.
My Review:Rodney Mansfield is a flamboyant and fierce artist living in Laguna Beach, California. His stunning nudes of sexy men are selling like crazy in the summer arts fair the city holds, and draws the object of Rodney’s affection to his gallery’s booth: Hunter, a big and burly fireman. Rodney’s hopelessly tongue-tied around Hunter though his good friend, Jerry, is equally smitten and has the gumption to actually ask Hunter out.
Rod doesn’t get the vibe that Hunter would enjoy being around him–he’s too alpha and Rod’s too flashy, and that’s mostly the truth. Hunter has built his life to please his disabled father, toning down his sexuality and even behaving in the bedroom in a way that he imagines his fellow firefighters might not find objectionable–essentially topping, when he isn’t as personally satisfied by that role. Still, Jerry–Rod’s friend–fits the image that Hunter wants to project, that of a pretty-much big, straight dude, who also happens to be gay.
That said, personality-wise, Jerry and Hunter aren’t a solid match, while Hunter and Rod are kindred spirits. Not only that, Rod knows how to speak to Hunter’s heart, and get through to his head, as well. This is a non-traditional romance, because Rob and Hunter get together only because Jerry pushes Hunter into sitting for Rod. Rod’s hating that he can’t be more than an acquaintance to Hunter, but that changes, rather abruptly, in their second sitting. This reminded me, a bit, of an updated Cyrano de Bergerac, with Rod giving the beautiful, but dim, Jerry all the right words to catch Hunter’s attention.
There isn’t a drawn-out charade, because Hunter respects Rod’s artistic skill and vision from the outset. He fears anything that might make him seem effeminate, or emasculated, in front of his fellow fireman–particularly one who’s become a stalker-y bully. It’s a big shift for Hunter to stand up for himself against the heavy weight of expectation that he’s adopted for himself. Rod and Hunter have this pseudo-adversarial, pseudo-teacher dynamic going on. Rod steps out-of-line a couple times, taking Hunter well in-hand when it didn’t seem as if the timing was right. That cut the romance-factor, for me. I was frustrated for the scenes with Hunter’s bully, because that level of unprofessionalism seemed unconscionable, especially as it was witnessed by others. The time frame also seemed a bit odd, if only because oil painting is a process that usually takes days to weeks, and the arts festival supposedly extended over that period, if we’re to believe the plot. For me, a summer-long art fest seemed unlikely, and I wondered how Rod’s painting of Hunter could have been a highlight of the show.
There’s a near-tragic incident that really brings Hunter and Rod together, and it’s all amiable with Jerry. There’s a lot of good here, even if I didn’t love every single bit. I loved how Hunter found his confidence, and his own happiness, and I loved that Rod set aside his crush to put his friend’s feelings first.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
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: