Title: Taste (Horizons #2)
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Buy Link: Buy Link Taste
Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Length: Novel (240 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: There’s more to Grier Delorio than his tats and his Harley, and the more Lil Lampert sees from the much younger man the more he is taken – to a point where Lil can’t think of a life without Grier anymore, and he’s determined to do everything in his power to make this happen for them.
The Blurb: What should have been a brief interlude turns into something deeper when Lil Lampert meets Grier Dilorio at the Taste of Chicago. Lil is in town visiting good friends Jody Williams and Clark Stevens, and he didn’t plan to hook up with a younger man and discover a mutual love for architecture, interior design, and a unique sexual kink that keeps Lil coming back for more.
By all appearances, Grier is the quintessential bad boy who loves speed, tattoos, and leather, but Lil slowly uncovers another side: selfless, responsible, and tender, especially for Luca, the son he’s had to deny. With Lil’s love and support, Grier will make a decision key to opening the door to a possible future together, one that includes fatherhood, something Lil has dreamed of but has never dared to explore.
Lyndon Lyle Lampert — Lil for short — is a successful architect from San Francisco. He’s visiting with his best friend Jody and Jody’s boyfriend Clark for the Taste of Chicago, a huge summer food festival which lasts several days. As the three men are savoring and tasting their way through the festival’s delicacies, they come across an ice cream booth manned by a gorgeous, tattooed young hunk, Grier Delorio, who immediately captures Lil’s interest. During the break which Grier spends with Lil, the two men discover a mutual interest for architecture which leads to them making an appointment for an architectural boat tour on the next day.
Over the course of the next few days they get to know each other better. Lil discovers a number of interesting aspects of Grier’s personality which Grier usually hides behind his bad-boy attitude. And while Lil was first cautious over Grier’s outer appearance with the tattoos and the biker friends and his dead-end-job, he soon gets to know a totally different side in his new young acquaintance. Grier has a playful and slightly kinky side that turns Lil on immesurably, he has dreams, and instead of being the hamhanded loser he pretends to be, Grier is an artist with visions and dreams.
Griers life revolves around Luca, his yound son for whom he has put all his own ambitions on hold. However, he can’t officially claim the little boy as his son since Luca’s mother, Lilian, denies Grier this privilege out of injured pride. All this has made Grier quite moody and a bit desperate.
Lil has to work through several issues now. First, he is so much older than Grier, what can the gorgeous young man possibly find in him? Then, they are a continent apart, can the feelings they develop for each other outlast such a distance? And, most important, can Grier find his own happiness without putting Luca’s happiness in jeopardy, and can Lil find a way to insert himself firmly in Grier’s heart when Luca takes so much room in it?
This book had some good points, like the characterization of conflicted, good-natured, caring Grier. He was even a bit too good, practically putting his life on hold for a child he had no official claim on. Lil was a great character, too. Although he had some stereotypical traits, I found him well-depicted as a formerly wildly flamboyant and still rather in-your-face gay man. Lil and Grier were good together despite the age difference; I liked the way Lil was patient and understanding with Grier’s moods but didn’t acquiesce in everything. Lil’s support helped Grier take a new look at his life and make some very necessary changes. Both their behaviour fit their respective ages and personalities well. Not lastly, they were hot together.
From the secondary cast, Luca stands out. He’s the epitome of a wonderful child, with his adorable lisp and his sweet nature. Everybody would love a child like him, and I totally bought how Lil was immediately taken by that little boy. This was another good point in the book, Lil immediately and consequently taking Luca into consideration as a vital part of his new lover’s life. The way Luca filled a gap in Lil’s heart Lil hadn’t even been aware of was very well done; I could absolutely believe in those three becoming a family.
Other members of the secondary cast weren’t that well drawn. I had problems especially with Luca’s mother, Lilian. She did several about-faces over the course of the story – from sisterly friend to calculating bitch to overworked working mom to homophobic harpy and back. From the way she was first portrayed, her erratic behavior didn’t quite fit, and neither did her neglect of Luca.
I also found the solution to all the issues with Luca in the end a bit convenient, but this had again to do with the unsuccessful characterization of Lilian. Really, this character could have profited from a serious thinking-over.
There were some slight plot inconsistencies; for example the whole scenario of Lilian’s “rape” to single out one. The author made an effort to explain the why and how several times, but I still couldn’t buy the way everybody involved dealt with it. Or Grier’s reasons to get back into the closet; supposedly he did it for his father’s sake, yet he’d come out to his father before and when he did it again, his father was so supportive and understanding I couldn’t help wondering. Yet, this was minor.
What I noticed throughout the book was the preoccupation with food. From the beginning when Lil strolls across the festival through the several occasions he and Grier go out to dinner down to what they have for breakfast, the food is detailed. This might be deliberate, since the Taste festival plays a big role in the book which implies an importance of food, but I didn’t feel all the details were that necessary for the plot. Also, this book had some lengthy descriptive passages for both San Francisco and Chicago as well as telling of backstory parts which could have used some tweezing without taking away anything from setting or comprehensibility. On the contrary, those passages unnecessarily slowed the narrative down.
Overall, this was a heartwarming love story. Grier, still insecure of his place in the world and always putting others before himself, and Lil, confident, experienced and a bit selfish, each benefit from the other, which in the end results in character growth for both of them. I liked the way this book ended on a positive, if slightly open note, with most of the issues solved while nothing was set in stone for them. With the additional benefit of lovely boy Luca, this book has the makings of a comfort read. Recommended.
This book is a spin-off of Horizons, reviewed by Kassa here. The main characters, ER doctor Jody and football player Clark, have supportive roles in this book while also offering a glimpse into their life since the end of Horizons, something their fans will certainly enjoy.