Title: Knave of Broken Hearts (Love in Laguna #2)
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August, 2015
Page Count: 224
Reviewed by: Gigi
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Jim Carney has a full time job—running from himself. Since he walked out on his wealthy family at sixteen because he’d wrecked his best friend’s life over some yaoi graphic novels, Jim has lived a macho, blue-collar existence of too much booze and too little responsibility. Then Billy Ballew, the man Jim most admires, gives Jim a chance to come through as his construction supervisor. For once, Jim is determined to make someone proud. Then Jim goes in for a physical for his new job and his yaoi dream comes to life in the form of cardiologist Ken Tanaka. Jim discovers he has two heart problems—a wonky mitral valve and a serious attraction to his doctor. But Ken is a major player, and Jim might be just a notch on the docs’s stethoscope. To Ken, Jim is unforgettable—but the living embodiment of his traditional family’s worst nightmares.
How come the minute Jim decides to be responsible, he finds himself taking care of his kid brother, getting a proposal from a wealthy woman, making a deal with the devil, and winding up in the hospital—when all he really wants is the Knave of Broken Hearts?
This is the second book in the Love in Laguna series. The first book, Knight of Ocean Avenue, is one of my favorite books of 2015. This book is quite different than the first book. While both stories center around men discovering their sexually later in life, the characters were like night and day.
Jim Carney is one of Billy Ballew’s hardest working construction workers. We met him in book one and in book two he is entrusted with a large project while Billy and Shaz are on their honeymoon. (Yay!)
Jim takes this new job title very seriously and sees it as a way to get a leg up in life. Jim has been on his own since he walked out of his parent’s house when he was 16 and hasn’t had many breaks since then. Just when it seems Jim has a good handle on his career, his 18 year old brother shows up at his door after getting kicked out of his house for being gay. As much as Jim loves his brother, this is just one more piece of stress in his busy life.
Jim needs to take a physical so he can be added to the company’s insurance and all is not well with Jim physically. He is diagnosed with a heart murmur and needs to see a cardiologist. That cardiologist is Ken Tanaka, a man that he-thought-he-was-straight Jim finds incredibly beautiful. The attraction is mutual but Jim is fighting his feelings, worried that he really isn’t gay, just attracted to this one man. Ken on the other hand merely lusts after the big, straight construction worker.
So, in the course of the story, Jim starts dating the project boss he is working for because he thinks it will help Billy’s business. Also, her father is a billionaire looking for talented people to work on his buildings. Jim thinks playing nice with his daughter will give them all a leg up in the field. But he is torn by his attraction to Ken.
Ken starts dating a young Japanese man because his family is very traditional and expects him to marry and have children since he in an only child and needs to carry on the family line. He appreciates the fact that his parents are finally bringing him male suitors instead of female, but he wants to choose his mate himself. He is the king of the one-night-stand and has not felt those strong feeling for another man yet.
Since Jim and Ken are kind of dancing around each other for a long time, their relationship doesn’t start until about the 60% point. And that isn’t a relationship as much as it is some quick, clandestine blow jobs. Ken gets himself into a few damsel-in-distress situations where Jim comes to his rescue and as Jim’s stress level increases, so does his heart problem.
As you can probably tell from my short summary, these two are nothing like the sweet, nurturing, expressive couple from the first book. Jim and Ken have a much harder edge and the positive emotion between them comes very, very late in the game. (I say positive emotion because they almost immediately feel jealousy when the other is with other people, even though no mutual feeling are exchanged.)
I really did enjoy this book, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the first book. Trying to top that masterpiece is a pretty tall order! I am going to recommend Knave of Broken Hearts with a warning that this is a completely different book, other than a few of the same characters from Knight of Ocean Avenue.
Side note: While I know the characters for book three are Shaz’s friend from the first book Ru Maitland and movie star Gray Aston, I hope that Ms. Lane will continue the series and focus on Jim’s adorable brother Ian and his new boyfriend Rico. Because these two are quite a bit younger, they have many, many hurdles to jump before they can reach a HEA. I’d love to witness that!