Book – The Veranda (Lavender Shores #3)
Author – Rosalind Abel
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 235
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 1st person, dual POV
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Contemporary
I barely know what to say about this, because I'm still a complete emotional wreck. Every time I finish one these Lavender Shores books, I think that this current couple is my favourite, and then another couple comes along and convinces me otherwise. So, I'm just going to settle on the fact that everyone in Lavender Shores is just as amazing, sexy, adorable and loveable as the rest.
It was great to see recurring characters, like Andrew, Joel, Gilbert and Walden. But, most of all, I loved that we really got a glimpse of Lamont, who I've been curious about since book one. I loved that he was such close friends with Donovan; it totally works and really makes me excited to read his story, next. I also really loved the little snippet about Andrew and Joel's next adventure, and that Donovan had his own therapist, despite being on himself. It was great to hear that he'd been discussing his feelings for Spencer with his therapist for so long.
When it comes to the main character, again, I loved everything about them. Donovan is a strong man, yet not forceful. His history with Paulie is so sad, but it's nice that you can still see the sparks of the old chemistry between them. I love that Donovan can be both dominant and submissive in the bedroom, taking and giving equally, while being respectful of Spencer's fears over how new it all is. I love that he's considerate and ever the therapist, even when it's only for Spencer's sake. Similarly, I love that Spencer finds a sense of freedom being with Donovan; that he can enjoy their time together, that he won't let his past or his thoughts control him, that he can be dominant when he wants to, as well, while showing his vulnerable side, too. And, as a huge Webber fan, I loved that aspect, too.
The story was – as I've come to expect from Rosalind Abel – brilliantly written, plotted and executed, just as the rest of the series has been. This is one series that will be making their paperback appearance on my bookshelf on payday. I'm never disappointed in them, I'm never left with more questions than answers and, honestly, the only downside is that I never want any of the books to end, but I'm always left with a little gift of knowing there are most stories to come in the future. I'm always crying before the halfway mark. I swear, Rosalind Abel is in the same league as very few other authors, who turn me into a blubbering wreck like this, so soon into a story. Every time I crack open a book in this series, I don't even have to finish chapter 1 to feel like I've known the characters forever. This series breaks me with every book and puts me back together before 'the end', before doing it all over again. I can't decide whether to love or hate that, so I do both.
I was hooked on the story right from the start, picturing Donovan trying to navigate a sex party with a musical theatre costume theme was just the most fun I've had in the first page of a book since...ever! What followed was perhaps the hottest beginning to a book, yet with an equally startling cringe factor once the final page of the chapter came around. I spent the entire first chapter dying to know if Spencer knew what he was doing, because something told me he always did and that just made it even more delicious.
After that, there was really no hope. I was sunk. I refused to put it down again until I absolutely had to and, even then, it was under protest.
All throughout, I fell in love with little pieces of the story, plot and characterisation until my highlighted favourite quotes took up more space than my review! I loved the moments when both Donovan and Spener thought back to when they first met, and we saw that they both had an immediate attraction to each other. Then, when Connor made his reappearance at the beginning, for such a short time, I was reminded that he definitely needs his own story. Especially if it involves Paulie, which I hope it would. I so want to see more of him. The words; “Sorry, I couldn't wait on the porch any longer..” nearly killed me! As did the suit fetish, because...phwoar! I loved that they both repeatedly call Donovan's house 'home' by accident, even before the halfway mark. I loved how comfortable they feel with each other, so quickly, and that they escape to San Fran together for some guilt-free time away, to be a real couple.
And then, of course, there was the absolute perfect ending in an Epilogue that had me on the edge of my seat, giddy as a schoolkid.
Yet, in amongst the heat and the humour, there were serious things, too. Like the discussions on reparative therapy and the lasting effect it had; the separation of a family unit; the consequences of a cheating spouse and the ramifications and emotions that followed all of those things. All of these Lavender Shores novels are as much about family, hometown love and a person finding himself as much as they are about relationships and hotness. They're real, honest and can be brutal, but they will always make my heart swell with love for everyone, even Richard. Because not one person in Lavender Shores is undeserving of happiness, and that's something I can support.
Okay, so I had so many of these highlighted that it would have been easier to just say 'read the damned book' and have it done with. But, here they are; my most favourite quotes:
The Serious Ones
“I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Since Erica's affair, it was like I was broken. Or, maybe I'd broken free. Perhaps it was the same thing.”
“But in the dark of the night, the memory of Spencer's hand in mine, the strength of his body, the scrape of his beard, the masculine smell of him would come back. Fill my dreams, haunt me in my lonely and weak moments. Make me imagine things I shouldn't. Increase a desire that I should be killing instead of stoking like a fire.”
“I felt his gaze follow me as I walked across the porch and down his walk. He didn't call out. I didn't turn back and run to him in one of those slow-motion crashing-together scenes from the movies. Instead, I got in my car, drove home, and swore to myself that I was going to wait. I'd waited this long.”
The Fun Ones
““We're in front of an entire wall of windows.”
“I know.” I slid his underwear to join his pants around his knees. “It's four thirty on Friday. Trust me, anybody watching from the other office buildings will appreciate this pick-me-up.””
“I looked around, searching, then rolled my eyes. “Are you serious? The one time in this damned town that I actually want people to gossip about me, and there's nobody here.””
“Lamont studied me a bit longer, then sat back, the puzzled expression fading. “Wow. You're one of the smartest people I know. The fact that you're so blind to this kinda gives me hope. Maybe there's been someone longing for me and I just can't see it yet. Maybe that's how it goes.””