Review: Rosalind Abel – The Veranda

Author: Rosalind Abel
Reviewer: Natalie
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications, LLC
Genre: MM Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★½ 

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 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.
Review: I want to move to Lavender Shores and sit in the swing on Donovan’s veranda! Once again, the setting for the book provides a tranquil backdrop to the sometimes emotionally turbulent plot. We met Donovan, Gilbert’s therapist friend in The Garden and he appealed to me right away. He has a case of unrequited love for Spencer, his brother-in-law of 10 years, now divorced from his half sister. After the unexpected encounter at a party, Spencer and Donovan realize their feelings are veeeerry mutual! Spencer’s long struggle over his attraction comes from a somewhat darker place, not only because his wife is Donovan’s sister. The story revolves around the two men finally reaching a point where they can pursue a relationship. I was captivated seeing Spencer take his long delayed steps in being his true self. He was sort of a kid-in-candy-store with Donovan, and Donovan struggled to be a boyfriend and not a therapist at times. I thought they were wonderful characters and true to the mature age they had both reached.

There are major obstacles to being open about being together, primarily Spencer’s children, his ex-wife as Donovan’s half-sister and the ire of their respective parents. There were some jarring notes that kept this from being a five star. Being raised in an LGBTQ-positive family and town, Erica’s actions, when first meeting Spencer, seemed out of place. She was depicted as being quite manipulative and a bit nasty when angry but not to caricature level. She does put the kids first and the nasty is mostly words, not deeds. The attitude of Donovan’s dad seemed out of the blue to me but I might not be remembering enough detail from prior books. The ties between the founding families are still rather confusing for me.

As in the prior books, the sex is a little adventurous and I do love a man in a suit. Or mostly in his suit anyway! The conflicts added depth to the story, making it not only a light romantic read but a very satisfying one. Spencer’s past was an unexpected element and deftly used in the storyline without becoming depressing. Once again, I’m very happy recommending this book to anyone who enjoys the erotic romance genre.



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