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Tartan Candy (Fabric Hearts Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 206 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Men in kilts!?!?! Yep, I can be that shallow. Well, shallow enough that the cover of Tartan Candy absolutely caught my eye, but it was the combination of an enticing blurb and Ross’s voice that had me queuing this audiobook up. I am delighted to report that neither Burn’s storytelling nor Ross’s vocal talents let me down because Tartan Candy will be a definite re-listen for me.
Raven and Caleb are both sympathetic characters in my world. Caleb’s decision to live in the closet, both why he made the decision to begin with and why he continued to do so, was an understandable one. Sad, but understandable. While it’s fortunate that Caleb’s best friend and cousin, Jaime, was able and willing to run interference at family functions to help draw attention away from Caleb, it’s also exceedingly sad that there is only one person in his large extended family who knows the truth about Caleb. Raven’s mental prison is just as suffocating, but in a way I suspect a lot of readers won’t fully grasp, and even my understanding of it is from a position of friend and confidante. I expect most people will understand how devastating the scars and injuries that Raven suffered from a motorcycle accident can be, that feeling that the scars make the person less attractive. However, having lived with a gay porn star for almost a decade, there is a HUGE part of their personal identity that is tied to their physical appearance, so when their “looks begin to go” or are changed drastically in the way that Raven’s were, there is a loss of identity that can scar worse than the physical marks. That loss of identity is exactly what Raven is dealing with in the novel – learning who he is now that he’s no longer in porn and how to overcome the stigma that some people place on him when they learn he did porn. I watched my best friend and emotional partner grapple with that loss of identity, that need to find his new place in the world, and it’s a difficult journey. Because of my experience, I was even more sympathetic to Raven’s plight, especially when Caleb learns of Raven’s past and lashes out in one of the harshest scenes I’ve read in a while. Harsh, but utterly realistic and believable, and it had my heart breaking for both men because with a handful of hurtful words, Caleb nearly destroyed the best thing that ever happened to them.
As for the relationship that develops between Raven and Caleb, it’s a nice mixture of sweet and sensual. Because of the extensive scarring, Raven had resigned himself to a life of celibacy. So to find a man who makes his body respond, who he finds attractive, and who is willing to take things as slow as Raven needs him to, it’s more than Raven ever hoped for. And Caleb is exceptionally patient, not simply because he takes “no” for an answer without getting angry, but rather because he accepts the intimacies that Raven is able to give and cherishes them. While they get to know each other, they snuggle, they kiss, they share a bed, they’re physically intimate without actually having sex – extended emotional and physical foreplay. When Raven is ready to take that next step with Caleb, it makes it even more meaningful – and sexy. What makes Tartan Candy even more enjoyable is Ross’s vocal performance. He does a great job with Raven and Caleb, but also with the myriad of side characters, making it easy to follow the story even during the Escobar family gatherings. I loved how effectively he conveyed the emotions of Burn’s characters, adding even more dimension to a beautifully written story. What I did not know when I started Tartan Candy, and am truly excited about, is that the author has written a second book in the series, featuring Will. I cannot wait!
Their meeting and start of relationship was very insta-attraction, but I felt it worked. After one little heated kiss in the beginning, these guys take it real slow due to Raven's insecurities. I liked that they took their time to get to know one another, and just dated with a bit of making out instead of going all the way. It was a very slow build. It was very sweet when they finally had sex, but the sex is not the focus of this story. It just happened naturally as part of taking their relationship to the next level. I can appreciate that.
The title, Tartan Candy, is a reference to Raven setting up "Tartan Candy" as a small business where he and his friend, Will, can do model gigs, being "eye candy" in kilts. Tartan being the name of the pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors on the kilts.
The Tartan Candy work is in the background, though. There really isn't much referenced to it in the story. The focus is Raven and Caleb's relationship, and Caleb has nothing to do with the Tartan Candy. Only that he absolutely loves his man in a kilt.
I did feel the story was a bit repetitive. The characters feelings and thoughts of events were repeated a lot. Like Raven's accident and scars. They were of course a big part of the story, but I felt it got brought up too many times. Like I couldn't help but think "I heard you the first few times.
I also found it weird that the author praised her own writing in a way? I felt the author was set on telling me about the importance of course in creative-writing. The references felt really out of place, and the third time it was referenced, I had to roll my eyes.
Almost unworldly in his beauty -- and no, Caleb had never regretted the creative-writing elective he'd taken when getting his college HVAC technician diploma -- Raven was simply stunning. Black dress shirt, bright red plaid kilt, and hair that matched both. Raven looked almost regal, but his smile was approachable.
[On their dates] Instead, they'd talked about school (they'd both taken creative writing as electives.
For a moment, he wondered if Raven's love of reading had developed after the accident, for lack of anything else to keep him occupied, but then he remembered that they'd both taken creative-writing courses in college.
I'm also not too happy about some descriptions the author made through the characters. Like Caleb saying that knitting equals gay.
He needed a f***ing hobby. For a second, an image of himself knitting a sweater came to mind, making him laugh. Not only would that effectively out him to his family, he didn't require a whole lot of knitwear in Orlando.
I got really offended that Caleb views men knitting as automatically outing them as gay. When is that a rule? Also, I wasn't all too impressed with Raven saying:
Simultaneously, the two of them shuddered, and Raven giggled, just a bit. He hadn't realized women could be that weirdly cool.
What really knocked the rating down from 3 to 2 star, is the way Caleb reacted to Raven's secret being outed. Caleb was a totally sweet, gentle, and patient character throughout 80-90% of the book. Despite of the few niggles I mentioned above, I really liked both characters. But then Caleb turned around and had the biggest assholish reaction. It shocked me! And then it was suddenly straightened out, and wrapped up so quickly that I didn't have time to get over the shock before they had made up, and the story had ended with an epilogue. It felt me flabbergasted and reeling, especially since the whole book had been about taking things slow, and a slow build up. Raven forgave way too quickly, Caleb should have groveled much, much more because of the mean things he said to Raven! This whole episode totally ruined my impression of the book, and Caleb as a character.
All in all, it was an okay book, with niggles, and one big WTF moment from me. It might not bug you, so give it a try if you want to.
The next book is about Will, Raven's friend and work partner in Tartan Candy.
Most recent customer reviews
Raven is fabulous.Read more
I've read a TON of porn star books, and they usually tend to be angsty affairs. This one was no different.Read more
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