Title: Prince of the Playhouse (Love in Laguna #3)
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 266
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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.
When I started reading Prince of the Playhouse, I loved the set-up. A fashion designer madly in love with an action hero actor, who just happens to be stretching his artistic wings by doing a week in the role of Hamlet at the Laguna Playhouse. There are hints that Gray Anson may not be all he is cracked up to be, while there are a few tantalizing glimpses into Ru’s background – he does seem to know his way around a knife …
But as the book progressed, I found the story just didn’t do it for me, for a couple of reasons. While we get POVs from both Gray and Ru, it’s hard to get a fix on either of their characters. Ru loved the idea of Gray Anson long before he actually met him, but once Ru got to know Gray, it sometimes felt that Ru still didn’t see much beyond that movie star image. Also, we don’t get a deep understanding of Ru – he’s a former gang member with an amazing fashion sense. Yet, we don’t ever really get much insight into Ru, other than his lust for Gray, his adoration of Gray’s movies, his fashion sense and his craft. The sex scenes between the two are hot, but I didn’t feel the chemistry. When they first meet in person: He just kept staring at Ru. “Do you know your eyes are almost the color of a cat’s?” “And yours are like the sky before a storm.” Really?
While I liked the idea of updating Hamlet (Hamlet with a wife-beater tee and leather), it seemed so unlikely that the director of the Laguna Playhouse would allow the costume designer so much input in the direction of the play, as well as suggesting how a character should be portrayed. Finally, I thought the whole police subplot was too over the top. For these reasons, I had difficulty in getting past that implausibility and into a willful suspension of disbelief in order to fully buy into the story.
I read (and enjoyed) the first two books in the Love in Laguna series, but felt this third book was not as focused on the two main characters and the various subplots (and plot holes) were distracting. Of course “Your Mileage May Vary”!