What would it be like to want somebody that bad?
This is exactly what Billy asks himself while catching an expression on a stranger’s face as the man watches a woman in a coffee shop. All of the girls think that Billy is good looking and he can have his pick out of any of them. He’s had relationships and they have been good, but not great, and there has been no lasting spark. Billy has never asked himself the important questions, but he has visited that bar and there was that guy and there is the secret gay porn video that he tries not to watch too often.
Billy’s life is all about working construction, coaching Little League, and helping his family financially. He never did well in school and his fear of taking tests and failing keeps him from advancing his career and getting a contractor’s license.
Billy’s sister is getting married and that puts him in the path of celebrity stylist Shaz. Shaz with his pink pants, straightened hair, and unicorn earrings “was his own holiday.” The attraction is instant, but Billy hasn’t come to terms with being gay and wonders how a beautiful and flamboyant man like Shaz could ever fit into his life. Shaz sees Billy as strong and oh so good looking, but being with a blue collar worker was never the picture that Shaz had for himself. On the surface, the men have little in common, but a fairy tale ending may just be in the cards for them.
Knight of Ocean Avenue was a book that got a lot of positive buzz when it was released and being that Tara Lain was an author I have not read before, it was a perfect fit for the New-to-Me Author Challenge.
This book opens with Billy and is more about Billy’s journey, but I’m going to start with Shaz because Shaz made this book for me. He’s not the type of character I usually gravitate towards, but he was the perfect blend of effeminate and masculine and while he was over the top at times, he wasn’t outrageously so. When his parents refused to speak to him when he came out, Shaz turned himself into a top stylist. He makes no excuses for himself and is comfortable in his own skin, although he knows he keeps to a crowd that accepts him. He always envisioned himself with a rich, established man, but that hasn’t worked out so well and Billy pushes all of his buttons. Shaz had fantastic energy and he was often running, dancing, and ready to leap onto Billy at any moment and I found his energy contagious.
So Billy….Billy is a good guy. He works hard and takes care of his (mostly ungrateful) family. At 25, he has never let in the idea that he could be gay, although there are many signs. When he meets Shaz, pieces of himself start to fall into place. The author did a good job of showing how flustered Billy became when he was alone with Shaz and there was some entertaining internal dialogue. There is a lot the guys have to work through from Billy coming out to them finding a way to fit into each other’s lives.
The main storyline of Billy and Shaz was the highlight of the book for me. Some of the side stories didn’t work as well. Billy’s sister’s wedding issues and the storyline with her fiancé did not blend well into the rest of the book for me. I get that it was a means to an end for a part of Shaz’s life, but it opened up too many questions that were not resolved. Also, most of the story was so entertaining but Billy’s family wasn’t. I understand there are families and mothers like that, but the lack of appreciation for all that Billy did for them dragged the story down for me. We are also told that Shaz is a nickname but the story behind it is never offered and it could have been left alone if there was not going to be any further information on it.
Shaz and Billy together, however, complement each other, from Billy’s creativity with building plans, to Shaz’s (erotic) idea of the best way to study. They make a great pair and they make each other better. There is a fairy tale tie-in and this is a recommended read for a sweet story overall.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize sponsored by Samhain Publishing, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-to-Me Author week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.