Tuesday Book Review: Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Today I’m reviewing Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain. It is a feel good little book that was released sometime in the last couple of months. I have to say I enjoyed it more than I expected I would and I’m sorry I kept moving it down my “to be read” list. At 254 pages this is a nice sized midlength novel. As far as warnings go there is homophobia (some overcome, some not), past mentions of homophobia and potential child abuse/rough parental treatment of one character, and one good sock to the face. It was deserved though, so …I guess if you don’t want any violence at all in your stories that could sink this read for you, but it’s not a big section and I would hate for anyone to miss the book because of it. There’s no huge description of blood or gore and the cops were called. I swear.

Let’s start out with the blurb.

A Love in Laguna Novel

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 judgment 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?



I wanted to say I thought Reese Dante, the cover artist, did a brilliant job on this one. I truly enjoyed the aesthetics.

The Good:

I’m a sucker for outrageous fem guys in books. This is a universal truth. I enjoyed Loving Jay by Kaye more than one human being should like anything, and I found that same type of overly zealous character love (some might call it a crush) developing as I read this book. Shaz Phillips. He fulfills my over the top fem guy needs. He’s a stylist, which basically means his job is to make other people, sometimes famous people, look as wonderful as they possibly can. It’s an artistic job that allows him to be far more whimsical with his wardrobe than a regular day to day job would, and he takes full advantage. It’s part of what draws in Billy Ballew, the other main character. He’s gorgeous and Billy wants him more than he’s ever wanted another person.

(Did I mention this is sort of a gay for you? Not really, though. Billy’s just kind of having trouble acknowledging the fact that gay porn is better than het porn.)

The sex in this book is so, so good. I’m really glad because after that wonderful character build up I would have been doubly disappointed if it weren’t. It was a little quirky and not the run of the mill type in-out-repeat we sometimes get with male romance that can be repetitive and dull. It was emotional to a degree, but also fun and about having a good time. Well done, in my book.

Also, I wanted to mention that Billy is a construction worker, a real blue collar kind of guy. I’m not sure why, but I love reading books about practical men who can do things…great things…with their hands.

The Okay:

I like the way that Billy is genuinely confused about his sexuality, or maybe just uber repressing. It plays really well in the story and makes for a good bit of confusion when it comes to what Shaz thinks is going on with Billy. This is the kind of thing that could have just been annoying, but it was handled well and ended up being a boon to the story.

I also liked Billy’s gay cats. They’re not really gay as far as I know, but they’re two males who are always laying around sleeping together, so he calls them gay. It’s adorable. I like any book with cute pets in it. Growing up I had an orange tabby Tom cat I had erroneously decided to name Fergie who reminds me of one of the cats in this book. It made me really happy to have a reason to think back on some fond childhood memories.

There’s a cheater in this book, and I greatly enjoy the fact that the readers are led to figure it out well before the main characters get it. It’s kind of like a social “whodunit” hidden alongside the main story. I was jumping around in my seat yelling, “OH MY GOD THAT SHITTY LITTLE WEASEL!” while I was reading and my hubs was all, “Are you okay over there? It’s book related? Oh, good…good…”

The Meh:

One thing I didn’t much care for in this book is the use of the butt plug. It was…Okay, I don’t mind when things are over the top, but it seemed a little overdone to me. I’m not entirely sure why I feel that way, but it just wasn’t as fun for me as it should have since the character who had it in was trying not to freak out and pass out during a social situation at the time. I understand why the author did it based on the story that was being told, however, and though I didn’t like it my enjoyment of the story wasn’t significantly diminished because of it.

To sum it all up, this is a cute book I would definitely give a go. It’s not exactly what I would describe as high angst, but there is some anxiety threaded throughout most of the book. I guess you’d call that tension. It’s well worth it to check it out. I read it in 2 nights, so it’s one of those books you could probably devour in a day if you started reading early on.

Happy reading!

If you liked this review, you can always check them out as they develop. Friend Ki Brightly on Goodreads.

Check out my book The Shape of Honey!


Available from Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.

Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.

Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.


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