Stage Two by Ariel Tachna

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Stage Two: by Ariel Tachna
Series: Lexington Lovers #3
Release Date: May 1st, 2017
Pages: 224 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner

Love has a steep learning curve.

Assistant high school principal Blake Barnes has everything he wants—a chance to help troubled students and an outlet for his passion for theater. Well, almost everything—he still goes home to an empty apartment. Then his high school crush explodes back into his life, the unexpected guardian of two boys in Blake’s care.

Thane Dalton has always been a bad boy through and through. Not much has changed, including his mistrust of authority figures, and no amount of institutional bureaucracy will keep him from protecting his nephews from the bullies terrorizing them. If that means butting heads with Blake, so be it.

Blake and Thane have lessons to learn: that they both have the boys’ best interests at heart, that the tension between them isn’t just confrontational, and that sparks can fly when opposites come together.

 

three-stars

This would have been better if the beginning hadn’t dragged as much. I had a hard time getting invested. I have a love/like relationship with the Dreamspun Desires line, but overall I like the chessiness of the stories. I never read the romances that its based off or watched soap operas as well. So, who would have thunk it that I’ve been reading these books? This was a good opposites attract. Blake being the authoritative figure in Thane’s nephews lives. How to navigate a relationship without breaking the morality clause for Blake. Its all good to see that Thane wants a relationship instead of one-offs when it comes to Blake.

Thane & Blake went to high school with one another, but one didn’t know the other existed. Blake had this worldly crush on resident bad boy Thane since he was a freshmen and a theater geek. Fast Forward 20 years and Blake is assistant principal at their same high school. By a happenstance Blake is in charge of Thane’s nephew when bullying ensues. When they do meet, they are both kinda brisk with one another. Not knowing the history or what to expect Thane was kinda a jerk-off. It could be how he is with most initial meetings. I doubt it, seeing as his nephews have been through hell and back and he’s only protecting them.

It got good after a couple of meetings. It was nice seeing them flirt with one another unknowingly.  I still had a hard time seeing them together. I don’t know what it is, it just seemed not to mesh well as the others in the series. They both do a bit of growing up by the end of the story, so maybe it was me. It just didn’t have that feeling that I get when I read this series.

Fans of this series will definitely like this! An opposites attract trope so there is that! It was cute, but I wish I could have started on a better note. It was probably just me though.

 

signature-fonts

About Ariel Tachna

When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).

Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


UnstableStudLGUnstable
 Stud by Ariel Tachna
Series: Lexington Lovers, Dreamspun Desires
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Pages: 204• Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonARe

Horses were his passion, until he laid eyes on his boss.

Eighteen months ago, tragedy struck Bywater Farm when a riding accident killed Clay Hunter’s lover and traumatized his prize horse, King of Hearts. Clay and King lingered in limbo, surviving but not really living, until a breath of fresh air in the form of Luke Davis, a new groom in the stud barn, revives them both.

When a fall from King’s back sends Luke to the emergency room, Clay watches the shaky foundation of their budding relationship tumble down. Can Clay really love a jockey again, or will his fear of losing another man he loves keep them apart for good?

 

four-stars

This was so damn sweet.

Again, another fun and romantic read from the Dreamspun Desires series and another new to me author under my belt.

Unstable Stud, just the title makes me wonder exactly who we are referring to; King of Hearts, aka King – the horse, or Clay – the studly owner since both are a bit unstable after the death of Nick, Kings rider and Clay’s lover.

We meet Luke Davis as he is working at the Bywater Farm just doing his job, mucking out stalls and doing it with his utmost determination and loyalty because Luke needs this job and the money. You see, Luke is dealing with the recent passing of his mother and having to pay off her medical bills while he lives of the bare necessities and never quite having a social life.

Luke loves working at the farm and with the horses. King is a special horse as he was ridden by the late Nick and King is not keen to many people doing this around him but King was a champion and folks want his babies. Yup, there is a lot of breeding talk in the beginning of this book that honestly, had me kinda uncomfortable. It’s a personal issue for me so I won’t speak much on it but it’s there and parts are odd but, this book is about a horse bringing two men together so it’s relevant. Relevant but not my favorite thing.

Anyway, Luke and King get along well and when Clay sees the horse that used to love only he and his late lover Nick, take to Luke, he promotes Luke from a stable boy to Kings groom and this gives Clay and Luke a chance to be around one another more.

Luke has crushed on Clay the entire six months he has been there but Luke, he doesn’t think too highly of himself as men in the past have basically told him he’s nothing but a pretty face with nothing going on upstairs. It’s gonna take a good man with a lot of love, patience and determination to change Luke’s mind and it’s a good thing Clay is a good and patient man.

I like the approach to the romance, Clay and Luke take their time with the relationship through there is enough UST and tender moments to sustain the reader. I will admit the turnaround happened quickly and it took me a minute to buy that Clay was really into Luke for LUKE and not all the similarities or reminders he brought up of Nick.  But once I settled into the romance when it began, I was hooked.  I was hooked and it was worth it.

King was a character all his own in the story, his presence was always a joy to read as I am a huge animal lover and once fancied myself a Equine Veterinarian until contradictions arose within my conscious but I sill love watching and being around horses. I wish I’d had the privledge my older siblings did of learning to ride horses as the times we get with riding in the book, made me wistful and nostalgic. I cannot leave out the amazing Mrs. Twitchell as she was a great comfort to Luke as well as a positive influence on him in so many way.

Have I said how much I love this series? Speaking of series, this is listed as “Lexington Lovers” as well, I’m curious where the series will take us next.

Unstable Stud was a lovely slow burn romance that never rushes the gallop of love, but lets you trot your way through until you are comfortable. It’s a story about falling off the horse – literally – and getting back in your seat because it’s where you belong, with the man who will be there with a promise at the end.

About Ariel Tachna

When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).

Guest Post: Ariel Tachna

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Ariel Tachna to the blog to chat about her latest release in the Dreamspun Desires series, Unstable Stud – releasing from Dreamspinner Press Friday, April 15, 2016 – as well as giving us personal insight on how she learned to write.

Be sure to check out the excerpt after the post… 

unnamed (5)

* * * * * *

Everything I know about writing…

I learned from Janelle Taylor

As I sit here waiting for RT to start, I can’t help but think about my first RT and the incredible friendship that grew out of a most unlikely series of events. It all starts with the story of how I learned to write.

When I was twelve, I told my mother I needed pens, then I took some of my babysitting money and walked to Walgreens. I bought the pens I told her I needed, but I also bought my first adult romance novel, Destiny’s Temptress by Janelle Taylor, a torrid Civil War romance between a Southern belle and a rancher from Texas. I hid it in my purse because it had a bodice-ripper cover my mother would never have approved of. I read it at night beneath the covers and hid it between my mattresses during the day while I was at school. I devoured it. More than once. And then when I got home from school some days, instead of picking up a book, I picked up a pen, and I started writing.

Remember, I was twelve, so you can imagine how awkward some of those early chapters were. But I was smart and I was an avid reader, so I could usually tell when what I was putting on paper didn’t work the way I wanted it to. The problem was figuring out how to fix it. So I did the first thing that came to mind and went back to Janelle’s book. I’d find a scene that created the effect I was going for, and I’d read it again, looking for how she made it work. Then I’d go back to my scene and try to fix it by using the techniques I’d identified from her book.

I read that book until it was in pieces. Actual pieces. The spine broke (it was a mass-market paperback) and pages started falling out, and finally I had no choice but to toss it out. I’d read dozens if not hundreds of other romance novels by that point, but it was Janelle’s I always went back to when I needed technical assistance.

Four years ago at my first RT, I met Janelle Taylor, and I told her the story I just shared with you. I’m not sure what I was expecting, besides just needing to let her know what an impact she had on me. I certainly wasn’t expecting the friendship that’s grown out of it or the incredible, overwhelming gift of her author copy of Destiny’s Temptress that now resides safely behind glass in my curio cabinet, where curious fingers and overeager puppies can’t get to it. I wasn’t expecting the peer-to-peer advice that resulted in Conquer the Flames being written in a matter of weeks, and I wasn’t expecting the unflinching reaction to hearing that I write gay romance. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to ask for a copy of one of my books and to tell people she was going to read it on the way home. I wasn’t expecting any of those things, but I got them anyway.

Janelle isn’t at RT this year because of family health issues, but being here makes me think of her nonetheless. So here’s to Janelle Taylor, and learning to write, and many, many more books and conversations and years to come.

* * * * * *

 

~Excerpt~

“We’re going to try a little experiment,” he said softly. “Do you trust me?”

King looked at him placidly. Luke walked to King’s left side and draped his arms across King’s back. The thoroughbred was too tall for him to get any of his weight up there easily, but it was a start. King turned his head to see what Luke was doing, but when Luke didn’t move, King grabbed another mouthful of hay and chewed on it in perfect contentment. “Don’t freak out,” Luke whispered repeatedly under his breath as he bounced on his toes and jumped, putting his chest across King’s back for a few seconds before he slid off.

King turned to look at him again but gave no sign of protest. “Okay,” he said, stroking King’s mane. “You don’t seem to mind me on your back at least that much, so I’m going to learn what Joe can teach me, and we’re going to do this for Clay. All right, King? For Clay.”

King whickered softly and bobbed his head.

For Clay.


UnstableStudLGUnstable Stud by Ariel Tachna
Series: Lexington Lovers, Dreamspun Desires
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Pages: 204
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonARe

Horses were his passion, until he laid eyes on his boss.

Eighteen months ago, tragedy struck Bywater Farm when a riding accident killed Clay Hunter’s lover and traumatized his prize horse, King of Hearts. Clay and King lingered in limbo, surviving but not really living, until a breath of fresh air in the form of Luke Davis, a new groom in the stud barn, revives them both.

When a fall from King’s back sends Luke to the emergency room, Clay watches the shaky foundation of their budding relationship tumble down. Can Clay really love a jockey again, or will his fear of losing another man he loves keep them apart for good?

 


 

About Ariel Tachna

When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).