Lamont Price’s romance novels have been a hit for the past few years. With his gorgeous looks, kind heart, and tender disposition, Lamont is the darling of Lavender Shores. He’s the guy everyone wants to be their best friend, the guy everyone wants to protect. But even with his success and the love of his family, Lamont feels hidden from those around him. Maybe the first step is attending a writing conference and revealing the man behind his pen name....
Tyler Dixon survives off his beauty and charm. From cover model to runway fashion to weekend arm candy, Tyler’s prices aren’t cheap. While his appearance is taking him places, his life as an artist has little more than flatlined. When an author hires him to appear as the face of her brand, Tyler thinks it’s just one more job. Little does he know another writer is going to steal all of his attention.
Escaping the conference to find some breathing room, Lamont runs into Tyler at a bar. Casual conversation leads to Lamont revealing his family’s obsession with helping him find love. It’s not a big deal to Tyler, who has played the role of boyfriend for other people in the past. Before either of them can rethink the situation, Tyler is in Lavender Shores meeting Lamont’s family. Though they’re only pretending to be in a relationship, the chemistry that ignites between them is anything but imaginary…
"Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practise To Deceive..."
Lamont Price, Andrew's older half-brother, is an author of M/F romances under a female pseudonym, attending his first romance book conference and about to come clean to his readers. He's nervous, understandably, not only because he's deceived his fans into thinking he's a woman named Ginger Peach, but also because he doesn't like the spotlight. As soon as he can, he runs from his fans to a bar outside of the conference hotel.
Lamont is an interesting character. In his mid-forties, he is plagued primarily by what he considers his failures (no boyfriend, no long-term relationship prospect, no books in his own name, no sex for years), and largely avoids getting together with his family, because they keep trying to set him up with someone he could add to the family. Lamont hasn't had sex in years because he doesn't do hook-ups and prefers to have sex within a relationship only. Not a bad attitude, of course, but obviously, that can lead to loneliness. And he is lonely. He sees all the happy couples in Lavender Shores and feels left out, like he's on the outside looking in.
While he's at the bar, hiding from his fans, he meets Tate Dallas, who's the prolific cover model for another romance author and whose real name is Tyler Dixon.
Tyler/Tate is what may be considered a rentboy. He's not only a cover model, but can also be hired as an escort, including providing bedroom attention, and some other jobs within that industry. He does all his to fund his photography and showing his work in galleries, while waiting for his "big break". He makes no secret of having a lot of sex, but he omits telling Lamont outright that he gets paid for doing so. He also omits another major thing, one that... nah, you read this for yourself.
So Lamont, having the baby shower for Andrew and Joel's soon-to-be-born baby coming up, asks Tyler if he would consider posing as his boyfriend for a long weekend in Lavender Shores, no strings attached, and no hanky-panky included. Of course, Lamont thinking that Tyler is the most beautiful man he's ever seen definitely helps in overcoming a smidgen of his shyness to even propose this arrangement. But surely, someone as gorgeous as Tyler has no interest in someone as boring as Lamont.
Except Tyler is struck pretty much just the same, but doesn't feel that he has anything to offer the older and more successful man. And thus expects nothing except the part he's agreed to play. It's a one-time thing, and then they'll go their separate ways.
But the best-laid plans and all that...
I quite liked the two main characters here, and the author did a darn good job exploring them in depth. It was clear that the Tate Dallas persona was a front, and that there is a real person hiding behind that pseudonym, a person who gets scared of what might be and a person who doesn't believe in love everlasting. Tyler is not ashamed of what he does to support himself, but he also keeps Tyler and Tate very separate. As Tyler, the fact that he's pretty straight-forward in what he says and does helped to draw Lamont out of his shell too.
It was also clear that Lamont, while shy and introverted, faltered more often than not under the pressure his parents put on him, whether it was intentional or not. Many people in town looked at him as if he was this fragile person and failed to realize that Lamont is in fact quite strong. His strength is in his convictions and his unwillingness to settle for anything but the real thing.
The two men have a strong connection from the start, and once Tyler gets to Lavender Shores for the baby shower weekend, they both struggle to stick with the original plan. I really liked that this was a slow burn romance for a good chunk of it, and that they had a chance to get to know each other a little bit before jumping into the sheets.
I really liked the imagery of the Shipwreck that the author used here, and the many parallels that could be drawn from it. It was also quite lovely how the author used the actual shipwreck as a background for Lamont and Tyler to get closer and soon allows them to realize that neither of them is ready to say good-bye quite yet.
Obviously, the omissions I mentioned at the beginning of my review play a huge role in the progression of their relationship and end up to be a chasm Lamont and Tyler cannot bridge once the truth comes out.
Or can they?
This is a romance, after all, so you know that a HEA is guaranteed, and the author doesn't let the reader down. Still, both men need to first find themselves, find who they really are, and figure out that what they had, what they built, no matter how short their time together, may be worth fighting for.
How they find their way back to each other - well, you read this yourself. There's some angst, some self-discovery, and there's a fabulous epilogue that you don't want to miss.
And plenty of holy hot boysecks, Batman, to boot!!
** I received a free advance copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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