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Publisher's Summary

Donovan Carlisle helps countless people in Lavender Shores with his skills as a therapist. It seems, however, that his ability to enable others to live their happiest life only works outside of himself. Donovan truly loves his life but isn’t able to find a relationship that satisfies his heart’s craving. Maybe the problem is that the only man he wants is off-limits. 

Spencer Epstein came to Lavender Shores to find himself. Instead, he married one of the local town beauties. He’d thought his prayers had finally been answered. Then he met his pregnant fiancée’s brother. It turned out those answered prayers were just cruel twists of fate. 

A decade later, after a divorce and the crumbling of all Spencer thought was set in stone, he sees his brother-in-law at a masquerade sex party. He takes full advantage of the anonymity and acts on the desires he’s held at bay all those years. 

The problem is those silent and frenzied moments didn’t satiate anything. The fire and heat between the two men only grows as secrets are uncovered, and they must determine if the cost of their passion is too high....

©2017 Rosalind Abel (P)2018 Rosalind Abel

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book; great narrator

This was an interesting story. I really liked both of the characters and listening as their relationship developed. I especially loved the narrator, Kirt Graves. I could probably listen to his voice forever.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brothers–in-law to Lovers

Please do not ever ask me to name which Lavender Shores book is my favourite. How could I ever choose? Lavender Shores, a magical town in California, is the most gay-friendly town in America. As well as being LGBT friendly, the town is truly idyllic – almost too good to be true, but still somewhere I would love to live. It’s close enough to San Francisco for its residents to slip into the anonymity of the larger city when they need to get away from prying eyes. Donovan and Spencer encounter each other at a masque party in San Fran. With the purported anonymity of the masks, the two engage in what could only be described as a very hot encounter. At first it is unclear if the two men recognize each other.

Donovan is a member of one of the founding families of Lavender Shores and Spencer, by marrying Donovan’s half-sister Erica, has also joined the elite. Yes, you read that right. Spencer used to be married to Donovan’s sister. The couple may be divorced, but Spencer and Erica share custody of their beloved children Ethan and Emma. The kids also adore their Uncle Donovan, so if the men acknowledge the hot encounter, how will that impact their friends, families, Erica, and the children?

As a psychologist, Donovan has helped anyone in Lavender Shores with emotional problems. In fact, without any churches and with no religious confessors in sight, Donovan is the keeper of all secrets in the small town. Donovan lives a fairly staid and dull life, with only the squirrel who visits outside his window every day or so as true company. He has his favourite patients like Gilbert Bryant (from The Garden), his ex-boyfriend Paulie in San Francisco who hosts wild sex parties, and his cherished niece and nephew.

Relationships? He doesn’t have the intimate or romantic kind. When he decided to stay in Lavender Shores, he accepted that his emotional fulfillment would come from his patients and his family. Between Erica’s pregnancy with Emma and the clients who have come to rely on him, Donovan believed the town was the place he was meant to settle, and settle he did. Coming face-to-face with Erica’s fiance changed his life forever.

Spencer, the fiance, was just as poleaxed. He’d convinced himself he could be happy as a straight man, but Donovan’s appearance tossed all those notions right out the window. He decides to suppress his need for his future brother-in-law and be the husband and father he must be.

10 years.

For ten years, the men suppressed their desires and strove to be as uninterested as possible – sexually. But a strong friendship has formed.

The night in San Francisco changes everything.

What makes a man a man?

Spencer has tried to work through this question his entire life. His father was a bible-thumping preacher who chose to send his effeminate son to reparative (conversion) therapy rather than just loving Spencer for who he was. Yes, Spencer was able to eliminate the girly walk and bulk-up with muscles, but religion couldn’t pray the gay out of him.

I abhor conversion therapy. If you are not familiar with the details, they are available, but suffice it to say, emotional and physical abuse is not going to make someone straight. I believe in biology and that people can be born gay or transgender. ‘Pray away the gay’ horrifies me. So even though Spencer is a fictional character, his story is repeated over and over again by the real-life girls and boys sent to these camps or therapists.

Many states and provinces and even countries are looking at banning the therapy because, at the mildest, it doesn’t work and, at the extreme, young men and women die. For the record, my city, Vancouver, just banned conversion therapy. The ban might be mostly symbolic, but it’s our way of saying we believe in protecting young men and women on the LGBT spectrum.

*deep breath*

Donovan empathizes with Spencer’s pain and doesn’t want to increase the ache and shame. In turn, Spencer is tired of hiding his true self. He has loved Donovan all these years and now that he knows it’s reciprocated, he doesn’t want to stay in the closet for one more moment.

I spent most of the book wondering how Erica and the children would take the news. When Spencer said to Donovan, I am ‘sure of you and your love for my children,’ I felt hope.

Okay, so those little things that made the book so special? Donovan’s visit to Spencer’s office high above the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. I will remember that scene vividly for a long time.

I liked that Spencer had to deal with reality versus the pornography he’s seen. I worry that this new generation of teenagers watch porn and believe that this is what should happen – does happen – in the bedroom. Spencer and Donovan make love.

This warmed my heart.

This is a Rosalind Abel romance so there’s a happy ending that was hard-won. Ms. Abel always has a deft touch with difficult issues. In contrast, she always provides me with moments of great humour. The opening masque theme is the meshing of two musicals. Be forewarned – if you have a favourite musical or composer, they may not get favourable treatment.

Finally, I wanted to talk about the imagery of the veranda. Each Lavender Shores book has a unique location – the garden, the palisades, the hideaway, the shipwreck, the alcove, and the glasshouse. Each has their own special couple and the veranda suits Donovan and Spencer. It’s a distinctive place where they can greet neighbours, friends, and family, watch over the children when they play, and provide the men with a special place in the world. It suits them. This is an amazing book.

I think Kirt Graves was born to narrate Rosalind Abel books. I enjoy all of his performances, but this was one of the best. I really enjoyed it.


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  • Story
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It’s never too late to find yourself, or love.

The Veranda is the third book in the Lavender Shores series by Rosalind Abel and can be listened to as as a stand-alone, though I don’t recommend it. The first two books in the series are not to be missed and your listening pleasure will be greatly improved with an understanding of the back stories of the other residents of this magical place. I’ve been reading and enjoying Brandon Witt’s novels for some time and when he announced he was writing this series based on popular MM tropes, under the pen name Rosalind Abel, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. The Lavender Shores series has surpassed all my expectations.

Donovan Carlisle was born into one of the founding families of Lavender Shores. He left the bucolic town to expand his horizons and study psychology. Returning to his birthplace to begin his practice, Donovan finds himself drawn into the lives of the residents who need him more than he’d imagined. Returning to city life as he’d planned is no longer an option. Meeting his pregnant sisters fiancée on the day of his return, ten years ago, Donovan found himself instantly infatuated. Even after all these years of unrequited love he still hasn’t found a man who can capture his heart the way Spencer did at their first fateful meeting.

Spencer Epstein grew up in a very religious family and when he was old enough he moved away from their disapproval to the small LGBT+ friendly town of Lavender Shores. On his first night there he meets Erica and she seems to be the answer to all his, and his family’s prayers. There is certainly attraction and Spencer believes he can love her and make a life that will make his family, as well as himself, happy. When Spencer meets her brother Donovan, at their engagement party, all his well built walls crack. He knows he is attracted to Donovan but he has promised himself, and Erica, that marriage to a woman, and having children, is genuinely what he wants for his life.

After the birth of their daughter, and later a son, Erica begins to accept that she hasn’t been able to change Spencer the way she’d hoped. Finding her needs met elsewhere, Erica leaves Spencer for another man and he begins to live his life authentically. Running into Donovan at a masquerade party, for Pride, Spencer uses his disguise to secretly hook up with Donovan, and the passion he’s been trying to hide is unleashed. When Donovan realises who the stranger really is he is deeply conflicted as to whether he wants to confront his former brother-in-law or pretend to remain clueless. Choosing love at the expense of family and community disapproval may prove impossible. Both men have a great deal to lose and they’ll need to believe in each other as well as those closest to them if they can ever hope for a HEA.

In The Veranda, Rosalind Abel takes two beautiful conflicted men on a journey to finally achieving the HEA they so richly deserve. I loved the MC’s in this story. They were sweet, kind, selfless men whose chemistry when they came together was explosive. I was utterly engrossed from the sizzling opening chapter until the highly satisfying epilogue.

Kirt Graves is one of my favourite narrators and his performance of all the characters in The Veranda was a pleasure to listen to. Whether the dialogue involved everyday conversation, humour, or more intense moments requiring heightened emotion, Kirt perfectly encapsulated the character’s voices. He portrayed Rosalind’s characters beautifully.
Highly recommended.