Welcome to the Belladonna Arms, a rundown little apartment building perched atop a hill in downtown San Diego, home to the city's lost and lovelorn. Shy archaeology student Stanley Sternbaum has just moved in and fills his time quietly observing his eccentric neighbors, avoiding his hellion mother, and trying his best to go unnoticed... which proves to be a problem when it comes to fellow tenant Roger Jane. Smitten, the hunky nurse with beautiful green eyes does everything in his power to woo Stanley, but Stanley has always lived a quiet life, too withdrawn from the world to take a chance on love. Especially with someone as beautiful as Roger Jane.
While Roger tries to batter down Stanley's defenses, Stanley turns to his new neighbors to learn about love: Ramon, who's not afraid to give his heart to the wrong man; Sylvia, the trans who just wants to be a woman, and the secret admirer who loves her just the way she is; Arthur, the aging drag queen who loves them all, expecting nothing in return - and Roger, who has been hurt once before but is still willing to risk his heart on Stanley, if Stanley will only look past his own insecurities and let him in.
©2013 John Inman (P)2014 Dreamspinner Press
This is a sweet, comfort read if you don't mind paranoid, insecure geek meets Greek god and just can't accept that he is worthy of attention. On the surface, I love the concept, but not so much in this execution. The best part of this book was the narrator, who is fabulous and really took what I thought was a mediocre story and brought it to a new level. He also took Arthur, a minor character, and stole the story with his interpretation of an overweight drag queen with a heart of gold. Stanley's insecurities became a bit much at about the 50% mark and Roger was just too good. So it was more like a Cinderfella fairy tale than any realistic read. It is fine for what it is.
Way up there...
When they saved Sylvia.
I didn't hear Arthur's voice in my head, but Tyler's rendition is perfect. He does a wonderful job telling this story.
Many of Stanley's experiences mirrored my own. Not all of them good. They took me back to some very vulnerable times that I would not want to repeat. I certainly laughed out loud but teared up some, too.
John Inman has quickly become one of my favorite authors and I hope that his entire catalog of stories become available through Audible. With good narrators of course.
The most interesting was the colorful supporting characters, and the humor. The least interesting was the main character, Stanley. His angst had him coming across as too stupid to live.
You always knew which character was speaking without tag lines.
Maybe, but with a different publisher. This could have been a five star novel across the board; doubtless, some readers enjoy angst-ridden tales, but I do not. Maybe Dreamspinner Press needs to do some housecleaning within its editorial staff.
Have always loved books and I find that as I have gotten older I find this way more enjoyable then listening to the radio.
have not read it so can't answer
Roger and stanly is very interesting and the story of sylvia I wanted to know more and the relationship between her and pete needed more focus. I did find stanly's complaining a little to much after awhile and the fact that he just kept thinking roger was not serious, even naked he still had issue's
I I have heard other stories he's performed he's one of the best reasons to listen to this.
Arthur :) however sylvia is a close 2nd
Stanley Sternbaum is a shy, very shy, grad student who is just now leaving the nest to study Anthropology in San Diego. He rents his first apartment ever at the somewhat dodgy Belladonna Arms, a place full of gays with only one “pesky” heterosexual in the bunch. He is immediately entranced by one of his neighbors, Roger Jane.
To Stanley, Roger epitomizes all things perfect and in fact, god-like, and therefore unattainable to a little, “nobody” like him. Even when it seems that Roger might be interested in him, he has a hard time believing, and is in fact doing what he can to avoid the man so as to avoid a broken heart.
Though he is avoiding Roger, he is not avoiding the rest of the wacky tenants, and though he wished he could, his mother. There’s ChiChi, the rent boy. Ramon, the beauty student. Charlie, the kleptomaniac. Sylvia, the transsexual. And we can’t forget Arthur, the super. Each of these characters go out of their way to bring Stanley out of his shell, and in fact spend quite a bit of time waxing poetic about Roger!
Though it is a tough road, it is very entertaining and Roger eventually manages to win over his “little mouse” and together they find their very HEA.
I can’t believe I missed this book when it first came out! I ended up reading this in preparation for the sequel, Work in Progress, and boy am I glad! John Inman is an excellent writer. He is funny, sweet, descriptive and his characters are sublime.
Stanley and Roger almost, almost!, take the back seat to the secondary characters in this book. Arthur is hysterical! He’s an obese drag queen forever having to haul himself up 6 flights of stairs and nearly passing out. He looks for love for all his tenants while quietly pining for his own unrequited love.
ChiChi and Ramon are two colorful neighbors who aren’t afraid to put in their two cents while in between entertaining “massage customers with special needs” (ChiChi) or practicing new hair techniques like pink hair dye for Stanley’s mother (Ramon). Charlie is a diagnosed klepto, off his meds and you can imagine the antics he gets up to.
Stanley’s mother is a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, busy-body who only wants what’s best for her son but has a hard time showing it.
All in all they make for a hysterical crew of well-meaning friends who gently nudge Stanley into Roger’s arms and help him to see for himself that he is more than worthy of that kind of love.
I highly recommend this book and give it 5 of 5 stars.
Tyler Stevens is a favorite narrator of mine and I think this ties as the best I have heard from him. He did a fantastic job with all the many and varied characters of the Belladonna Arms. Arthur is appropriately swishy/queeny. Sylvia is sweet and delicate. Ramon and ChiChi both have a fantastic accent with “attitude” and Stanley’s mom is perfect in her smoke roughened way.
I really, really enjoyed his narration and hope he does the sequel as well.
I give it 5 of 5 stars.
Better writing, less annoying narrator.
A book for adults
Well the earnestness with which high school boys in love pursue their love interests... OK I tried but the short answer is no. There were no redeeming qualities.
Over the top. I feel guilty being mean about this book but it really was not good. The narration was annoying and the book just juvenile.
The book starts off on a promising foot. The narration is ok and the character are quirky and funny. Unfortunately about an hour in everything falls apart. The book is WAY over sentimental, predictable, pathetic, and propagates over-obsessive and over-controlling relationships. The ending might make up for it, but I didn't make it that far. Aside from he book pissing me off, which isn't enough reason to hate it, I thought the story was dull, poorly constructed, and flat. It was just really boring.
For a gay romance novel, this little tale is not devoid of charm. The oddball setting and the likability of the characters, combined with decent writing peppered with erotica plus an occasional sprinkling of true wit render it disarmingly appealing. I found myself rather touched.
John Inman's writing was clever and the characters were interesting. However, the main character's, Stanley's, insecurities just got to be too much. At points I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep listening. Also, the character Roger says shyness is a medical disease like kleptomania. Certainly, social anxiety is medical, but shyness itself is more of a legitimate personality type. To me it would have been more romantic to have Roger accept Stanley for how he is than to compare his personality to a medical condition. Although, Stanley does obviously need lots of therapy for his deep seated insecurities and should probably address that before getting into any relationship. It was too weak a plot element to hang the story on, and it just got annoying.
I enjoyed the narrator, Tyler Stevens. He did a great job at distinguishing the characters, and his narrating was lively and interesting. It suited the story very well. I would gladly listen to another book narrated by him.
No. Absolutely not.
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