Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages
At a Glance: I wish I could recommend this one. I really wanted to love Ru’s story. But, the delivery was just so over the top, and there were so many moments that I couldn’t wrap my mind around.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Driven by his desire to become a successful fashion designer and concerned with hiding his questionable past, Ru Maitland has let obsession with action movie star Gray Anson on the big screen replace his social life. Then obsession and reality collide when Ru is asked to design fashion costumes for a special performance of Hamlet at the Playhouse in Laguna starring none other than Gray Anson. Gray turns out to be a compelling mix of shy and brash and, despite a high profile engagement to a female socialite, the signals Gray sends Ru have his libido doing the salsa.
Gray Anson has what most people only dream of—great wealth, huge fame, a job he loves. For that, he’s given up any semblance of privacy and the right to say no to the thousands of people who depend on him and the millions who love him. He sees everything he’s ever wanted just outside the bubble of his life, but how can he make the compromises needed to embrace it? When Ru’s shady past crashes into Gray’s paparazzi-haunted present, both men have to learn that sometimes the only acceptable compromise is the truth.
Review: Listen, guys…this review is a tough one to write. If I were to focus only on the things I liked about this book, my assessment would be woefully short. While there were a handful of positives, the issues I had with the story almost entirely eclipsed the things that did work for me. So even though it’s difficult, as always, I’m gonna give it to you straight.
I loved Ru in Knight of Ocean Avenue, the first of the Love in Laguna books. He was charming and fiercely loyal as Shaz’s best friend, and I was definitely excited to read his story. For the most part, the character that so many fell in love with in that book remains intact. However, the “questionable past” (or “shady past”) as described by the blurb, that Tara Lain lays out for Ru definitely shakes things up in Prince of the Playhouse—and not entirely in a good way. I love that she tried to give Ru a completely surprising background, but for me, the two sides of him were just too incongruous to be credible.
Another part of Ru’s character—and Gray’s as well—that kept throwing me was how he acted with respect to his age. These guys are twenty-four and twenty-five years old respectively, but we really get no true sense of that. In my opinion they both seemed/acted about ten years older. They simply did not speak like guys that age. Regardless of their current stations in life, neither came from money, or went to boarding school, or have any other reason that they wouldn’t talk like ‘normal’ guys in their early to mid-twenties, but instead would have their language so overwhelmingly peppered with ‘darlings’ and ‘dears’ and words like ‘lascivious.’ I realize Ru created this ‘persona’ for himself when he moved to Laguna with dreams of becoming a high-end fashion designer…but we’re also supposed to believe that he comes from a world that is almost the polar opposite of the one he inhabits now.
And, speaking of the use of ‘darling’ and ‘dear,’ or overuse as it were… It was not only Ru and Shaz who used the terms liberally, it was everyone. And, I’m sorry but I just can’t ignore how unrealistic that is. ‘Darling’ is used in dialogue in this book sixty-nine times, and ‘dear’ forty-six. People from all walks of life just don’t talk like that. Period.
I don’t want to just continue beating the horse. Let me get to the things I liked…
First, the cover (and some of the promo artwork I have seen) is gooooorgeous. Serious cover love. Second, the characters are mostly very likeable. Even though I didn’t love how Gray treated Ru throughout much of the book, I could appreciate the tough position he was in. I loved the scenes where he showed his vulnerability and we got to really see him. Chapter seven was lovely. It too was littered with the over-the-top dialogue and actions, but it felt honest and had some very real moments between Ru and Gray. Also, Merle was wonderful, Gray’s parents were really wonderful, and I dug Gray’s bodyguard, Chris, a lot. Finally, the play stuff was very good. The author’s vision for the updated version of Hamlet, along with having Ru design the fantastically original costumes, was very cool.
I wish I could recommend this one. I really wanted to love Ru’s story. But, the delivery was just so over the top, and there were so many moments that I couldn’t wrap my mind around, I just couldn’t overcome my incredulity. Ru deserved better.
All of that being said, I can also appreciate that there will be people who will be totally on board with this book. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. And, I have to believe that the plan is for Merle to get his own book—maybe next?—which fans of the series will undoubtedly be ecstatic about. So, while for me neither of the last two books have managed to capture the charm of the first, I know that some folks will be looking forward to more Love in Laguna.
You can buy Prince of the Playhouse here: