Review: Tara Lain – High Balls (Balls to the Wall #6)

Author: Tara Lain
Reviewer: Diane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary:

Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous.

Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily-ever-after is for real.

Review:

Theodore Walters is a 26-year-old single dad to 7-year-old Andy, while working on his PhD and trying to maintain a relationship with his deceased wife’s parents, who are quite religious. His son does not really like his time with his grandparents because of the judgments going on, but Theodore feels he has to keep the peace in order to keep his son. Marrying his female best friend at 18, when they both knew he was gay, he was there for his friend and has been a full time Dad for Andy ever since and denying himself any kind of relationship as a result. Snake Erasmo is a bartender, or seems to be, at the start of the story, who has tattoos, piercings and appears to be the quintessential bad bay persona. Then Theodore comes in to the bar on a rare night he is without his son and things change for both men. The story is told from both Theodore and Snake’s point of view.

The Balls to the Walls series, for me, is mostly about relationships and one of the things I have always enjoyed about the books is the supporting characters as much as the lead characters. They have created a family of their own in Laguna and they are there for each other as well. You don’t have to read all the books to read any one of them, but I think because the characters are as strong as they are, you’ll likely want to! And in this book, you get to see Rod, Hunter, David, Adam, Mick, Jerry and Sky again (all leads in their own Balls to the Wall books!) and while the books have definitely touched on some serious topics such as prejudice, fear of being outed, sacrifices made for careers or with family and in this one, single parenthood, religious in-laws and more homophobia, the relationships and the created family they have is what gets them through things.

With this story, you also see a smaller dynamic when Theodore makes the decision to let his son meet Snake, and the two get along right from the get go. When Theodore (who gets nicknamed Teddy Bear by Snake) thinks he has to let Snake go to keep the order in his life, Andy is as upset about it as Snake – and Theodore, if he were honest with himself. Everything does play out rather quickly, and I would have liked a bit more of Snake’s story, since the story was also being told from his point of view, but I loved the character of Andy! He’s 7 going on 35, had some great lines, and you see that he is not only a good kid with a level head, but he has his moments of being very vulnerable as well and sometimes it’s Dad he wants, sometimes he turns to Snake. I loved that the little boy got so many scenes and in some ways, is present even when he is not physically there, so you know what Theodore’s priority is and how much he loves his son. I loved the created family of the three of them, as well as when one or more of them were with the rest of the Laguna group. And how they all stepped up when Theodore needed them, even though he was not willing to ask, I can’t tell you what happened though, you just have to read it!

If you are already a fan of Tara Lain, the Balls to the Wall series or like stories about single dads getting a chance at romance or viewing it as nerdy guy meets hot bad boy, then I think you will enjoy this story. There are some sex scenes, but not many because of course, there is a child to be considered, and again, relationships were the key element in the story.

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