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Publisher's Summary

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 his or her 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....

©2017 Rosalind Abel (P)2018 Rosalind Abel

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Can you find love later in life?

For the record, Lamont Price is not THAT old. 45 is hardly washed-up in the romance department, but he’s feeling like he’s missed his opportunity. Some of the most important people in his life, are paired up, and Lamont’s been an observer for a while now. He’s happy for his family. He’s happy with his life. He’s even – for the most part – happy with his career. That being said, his agent has talked him into ‘coming out’ to reveal the man behind the woman’s pen name.

There is often a lot of debate about authors choosing pen names that clearly represent the other gender. I don’t have any problem with it. Where I have a problem is when that person puts themselves out as an expert about that gender. As for the rest…? Each to their own.

Lamont is worried about the coming out and given that his own coming out of the proverbial closet when he was a teen was so uneventful, it’s not surprising he’s worried. He grew up in Lavender Shores, the most gay-friendly town in California – possibly in all of the US. These days, that kind of haven is where many of us would love to live. Lamont being gay was not a big deal, but his status as a single man? Yeah, his family cares about that. They want him to be happy and they believe the best way for him to find fulfilment is to be in a relationship.

First, though, his desire is to survive his unveiling. Before it happens, a cover model for one of the other authors puts in an appearance. The man is a hunk, and Lamont thinks, “he looked like he could be James Bond and I wanted to be a Bond Girl”.

Oh, really?

Tyler Dixon is that proverbial James Bond and he is quite accustomed to being objectified. He has essentially traded on his good looks so that he can work a flexible schedule and chase his true passion and dream. And I have no trouble imagining Tyler at work – gorgeous and someone who ‘goes both ways’; he is able to attract and mesmerize men and women equally. He enjoys sex and is good at playing at being someone else.

The true questions are, does Tyler know himself and how will he accomplish his goal?

When Lamont and Tyler manage to escape the throngs of women fans, they find themselves enjoying a drink together. One thing leads to another and Tyler manages to convince Lamont to hire him as a fake boyfriend to get his family off their back. Tyler could use the money, sure, but he wants to help Lamont and see the fabled Lavender Shores.

I like the fake boyfriend trope because it is a way to force two characters to get to know each other and can bring a lot of humour to the situation. Often one is quicker on his feet than the other and, unsurprisingly, it is Tyler who handles the situation deftly, answering the family’s questions and accepting the adoration without too much guilt. At the end of the evening, Lamont freely admits that Tyler hadn’t oversold himself and he was good at his job.

Perhaps too good, because as the men spend more time together, the lines get very blurred. And Tyler, in getting to know Lamont, can see the man behind the pen. When Lamont says he was the “fat red-headed kid with braces and glasses”, Tyler accurately points out that “you look in the mirror and still see that fat kid”. Those moments of insight endear Tyler to me more and more because he then added, “You’re no longer a fat kid. You grew into a swan.” I loved that Tyler was able to see the real Lamont and still love him. Many single people in their forties, especially those who still desire to find a partner, know it’s not so easy. Age does take a toll. There are a few more lines, less hard muscle, and more curves. Lamont doesn’t have a paunch by any means, but he does compare himself to the younger Tyler and find himself wanting. Tyler doesn’t see the imperfections. He sees a man who has followed his dream and succeeded. He sees a man who is lonely and is willing to be there for him.

It’s not all sweet romance, though. When things get hot and heavy, Tyler edges Lamont. “I want to save this… I want to save this load for the rest of the day and then tonight I’m going to ride that big tool of yours and absolutely cover your chest hair”. Lamont then notes to himself that ‘despite having just come, my dick twitched at his words’. What really spoke to me, though was how rare this intimacy is for Lamont. He is someone who has to have an emotional connection to share himself with another man and so his willingness to invite Tyler to his bed was a clear indication more was going on, at least for him.

The Shipwreck has special meaning for Lamont – a place where he can escape to. All the books in this series have places tucked in various locations in Lavender Shores where they feel most comfortable. As with the others, when Lamont brings Tyler to the wreck, he is sharing a very intimate part of himself. I may not have a special place like that, but I do understand making myself vulnerable and risking everything by showing my true self. Lamont’s honesty was heart-rending, but it was a lack of honesty on Tyler’s part that leads to the quick demise of the relationship.

The time the men were apart was painful for me and I might have sniffed a few times. Not the outright sobbing from when I had read the book, but a tear might have escaped. My moment of levity came when Deuteronomy came to visit Donovan while he was talking to Lamont. Donovan isn’t in ‘therapist’ mode per se, but he is a willing ear. That his squirrel buddy dropped by was just the comic relief I needed. (Especially because it’s Donovan’s Spencer who loves musicals and yet Donovan chose the name for the squirrel, after the cat in the musical, of course.)

Moments when the two main characters find each other again can be moments of great passion or moments of quiet acceptance. They are moments when hurts have to be dealt with or moments when the past can be left behind and a future forged. Best line of the book? “If we get lube stains on the pool table, I’ll cut it out and frame it.”

Yep, that’s Rosalind Abel’s sense of humour, always present in these books.

The series is being narrated by Kirt Graves and, as always, I adore him. He can pull off Lamont’s deeper voice along with Haley, Andrew’s sister and the other women in the book. Oh, and Kirt’s portrayal of Robert? Lamont’s father is a favourite character of mine and Kirt gives him just the right vitality and verve. I can’t wait to hear the next book in the series.

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Love the ending!

I love returning to Lavender Shores with it's interesting characters, but I've been particularly interested in Lamont's story since listening to him agree to hiring Tyler as his fake boyfriend at a family gathering rather than face his family's awkward, but well-meaning, attempts to get him matched up from the excerpt at the end of The Veranda.

From the moment I heard the plot I was sold. I love a good fake boyfriends turning to something real trope and I just had to know how quiet, almost-melts-into-the-background Lamont dealt with trying to fool not only all of Lavender Shores, but his father, Robert, especially. I thought Tyler and Lamont fit well together and was really interested in seeing how it all played out.

The Shipwreck does not disappoint. It's got a strong cast of characters, and interesting premise, a bit of a twist, and a very happy ending.

I liked both Tyler and Lamont, together and as characters. I figured out Tyler's secret after a few very heavy clues were dropped and I thought it was interesting (good interesting, not bad) the way their romance plays out. Added to how much I love getting to visit with past favorites from the previous books, and The Shipwreck definitely ranks in my top favorites of the series.

Kirt Graves performs well, delivering a narrative style that's easy to listen to without being over the top and featuring easy to follow character voices and a good pace.

Recommended for those who love the fake boyfriend trope and are looking for a romance with hot sex, not too much angst, and a truly lovely happy ending.

P.S.: I'm really looking forward to listening to Connor's story!