Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from Tara Lain. HIGH BALLS is the fifth book in her Balls the Wall series and features a sweet romance between a young, single father and a tattooed man of many talents. While this is a standalone read, there is a lot of investment from Rod and Hanson, the boys of FIRE BALLS. Expect cameos from pals we met in FAST BALLS, VOLLEY BALLS and BEACH BALLS, too.
Catch an excerpt and enter the $15 GC giveaway below.
About the book:
Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous.
Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily-ever-after is for real.
How about a sweet taste?
“Mr. Walters, please explain the methodology of your research.”
And so it began. The words flowed across his tongue—the thousands of questionnaires and over a hundred personal interviews showing the education, expertise, and experience of romance writers, their use and extension of techniques pioneered by Austen and other major literary figures. He discussed tropes and their application in so called “fine” literature as well as genre fiction. Quoting verbatim from scholars he’d interviewed, he showed how many academics dismissed romance fiction purely because of its association with female readers.
Dr. Willamette said, “How large is the romance market, Mr. Walters?” She actually seemed interested.
“It’s a moving target and difficult to pin down due to the vastness and fluidity of the ebook market, but well over a billion dollars, for sure. It’s the largest book market in the world by double over the next genre.”
“Oh my. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring those people more actively into the field of literature? More teachers and more students?” She smiled.
“My point exactly.”
Ashworth sputtered, “You want to bring these illiterate, uncultured old maids and housewives into the literary tent? You must be joking.”
Dr. Willamette’s face fell, and Theodore worked to ungrit his teeth.
Dr. T. tried to keep the tone upbeat, but every time Mr. Karl or Dr. Willamette asked a good question or seemed to show interest in his research, Ashworth would find a way to belittle their opinions. They practically shrank in their seats. The chances they’d stand up to the chairman? Zilch.
Theodore kept fighting, but he felt like a salmon on a dammed-up stream.
Dr. T. said, “Why did you undertake this research, Mr. Walters? What do you feel it contributes to the future of literature?”
Theodore gazed at the carpet for a minute. “When my wife was dying, I would read to her. Classics and current literary fiction felt so cold and helpless in the face of death. Only love prevailed. So I bought a romance novel, just for diversion. I was amazed at the true literary value the book possessed. I tried another and another. Yes, I found bad ones, but then that can be said of any type of literature. Gradually I came to realize that what I’d been taught about romance fiction was bull. Here were truly gifted writers, more of them than in any other type of fiction, toiling away with not only no recognition, but also actual denigration, and still producing exceptional work. I decided to find out why.”
He looked up at each member of the panel, even the sneering Ashworth. “I think if I can encourage or inspire even one of these excellent authors to persevere and have some of their work recognized, my research will have succeeded.”
Dr. T. said, “Thank you, Theodore. I wish to add that the dissertation reader agrees with Mr. Walters. She states that the paper has done more to legitimize one of the most popular forms of world fiction than anything she’s seen. She highly recommends the paper for publication.” He looked down the panel. “If there are no more questions, Mr. Walters can go and we can determine the time for our deliberation.”
Ashworth said, “I have one more. Walters, do you really expect us to take this dissertation seriously?”
Theodore stood. “Yes, sir, I do.” He looked down the table. “Thank you all for your consideration.” He turned and walked from the room with a straight spine.
This is the fifth book in the Balls to the Wall series and reads fine as a standalone.
Theodore Walters is a widower and caregiver to his 7 year old “son” Andy. Few people in this world know he isn’t Andy’s biological father, but Theo married his BF when she got pregnant at the end of high school, and was a rock as she wilted and passed of cancer two years ago. Her loony parents, however, are wealthy religious bigots and can’t push Theo to finish his PhD dissertation defense fast enough so their grandson won’t have to live in the relative squalor of their two bedroom apartment. If they knew Andy wasn’t Theo’s son, they’d angle to adopt him outright, and Theo can’t bear the thought of losing his son.
While out on one of his rare child-free nights, Theo meets Snake Erasmo. Pierced, tattooed and glorious, Snake somehow finds nubile Theo attractive. Snake is not the type of person his in-laws, or the stodgy academics at his private religiously-affiliated college, will welcome as a partner to Theo–but the attraction is there. Snake assures Theo he cleans up well, and sleeves hide lots of tattoos, don’t they? Bowing to Theo’s need to keep things on the way-down-low, they take to eating in, and Snake and Andy hit it off immediately. Mostly, because Snake is a fantastic guy. But, he’s a guy who has unexplainable talents, for being a somewhat-drifter-turned-bartender. And Theo’s friends love Snake, but can’t figure out what he truly does for a living.
With the threat of his thesis being rejected, and the increasingly troubling interactions Theo’s having with Andy’s grandparents, he’s just not ready for what is shaping up to be a serious relationship. It’s a bit charming how Andy reaches out for Snake for help with his grandparents and to keep work-worn Theo happy, and how Snake lifts countless burdens from Theo’s shoulders. And the sex is off the chain. Theo LOVES that not all Snakes piercings are facial…
For me, I loved the tenderness, and interactions between Theo, Andy and Snake. It’s a fun juxtaposition, this strapping biker-ish guy and the curious child, but they make great co-conspirators. Snake loves his “Teddy Bear” and he’s set to prove it any way he can. And, he’s not afraid to go to Theo’s friends and ask for their help, either. All the boys of the Ball to the Walls books assist Theo or Snake as they ensure Theo’s thesis gets fair treatment, and Andy’s paternity is affirmed. It’s a feel-good romance with a sweet HEA to enjoy.
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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: