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Home Improvement

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Romance on Aisle Sixteen—opposites attract amid the hammers and screws of the home improvement store.

Gabe Mason became a father at seventeen, and his daughter, Ellie, is the most important thing in his life. But being the parent the courts demand means Gabe has given up most of his dreams—education, making furniture, a gay social life—to be a model dad with a steady, reliable job in a home improvement store. Life’s predictable until Jerry, a shy, eccentric guy in a hat and sunglasses, begs Gabe to oversee the renovation of his run-down mansion.

Gabe loves the house and the work, and Jerry's pretty lovable too, but when Gabe discovers Jerry’s secret identity, he fears their passion could overturn both their lives forever.

200 pages, Paperback

First published July 9, 2019

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About the author

Tara Lain

92 books1,350 followers
Tara Lain believes in happy ever afters - and magic. Same thing. In fact, she says, she doesn't believe, she knows. Tara shares this passion in her stories that star her unique, charismatic heroes and adventurous heroines. Quarterbacks and cops, werewolves and witches, blue collar or billionaires, Tara's characters, readers say, love deeply, resolve seemingly insurmountable differences, and ultimately live their lives authentically. After many years living in southern California, Tara, her soulmate honey and her soulmate dog decided they wanted less cars and more trees, prompting a move to Ashland, Oregon where Tara's creating new stories and loving living in a small town with big culture. Likely a Gryffindor or maybe a Ravensclaw but possessed of Parseltongue, Tara loves animals of all kinds, diversity, open minds, coconut crunch ice cream from Zoeys, and her readers.

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5 stars
203 (28%)
4 stars
296 (41%)
3 stars
169 (23%)
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33 (4%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 169 reviews
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,386 reviews419 followers
July 12, 2019
A Joyfully Jay review.

5 stars

Please forgive me if I gush a bit about Tara Lain’s latest novel, Home Improvement. I loved this story. From the wonderfully mature and loving Ellie who had her dad’s back, to Jerry who just wanted to be seen for who he really is, to Gabe who has sacrificed everything, including a personal life with a potential partner for his daughter, this book is a sweet and tender romance, as well as a lovely reminder that family is what you make of it and not necessarily what you are born into.

From the very beginning, Jerry stole the spotlight for me. It was so great to watch him grow into a person who took control of a life that he had never really loved, but one he’d pretended fulfilled him despite it never really doing so. His metamorphosis in this story was key to Gabe finally realizing that putting his own life on hold due to the constant fear that he might lose Ellie was doing neither of them any real good. Jerry not only showed Gabe that he was still a real “catch,” but also that when the chips were down there was someone who would fight for him and his daughter.

Read Sammy’s review in its entirety here.

Profile Image for Gustaf.
1,394 reviews120 followers
June 30, 2022
I've been having this book on my tbr for quite some time, always passing it for other books for some reason. I'm so happy I finally picked it up. I loved it.

Reread June 2022
Profile Image for CrabbyPatty.
1,566 reviews172 followers
July 9, 2019
Gabe becomes a father at 17 and spends the next 16 years supporting his daughter, working at a steady job and making beautiful handcrafted furniture in his spare time. Or as his daughter says "I live with a man who pretty regularly gives up what he wants to do in his life for somebody else, namely me. It's great, but it's not a sustainable strategy." Or as Jerry says: "Gabe gave up his childhood to assure she had hers."

Jerry, wearing a weird beanie and sunglasses, shows up at the ImproveMart where Gabe works, asking for help in purchasing some drawer pulls. Gabe is drawn to the tall shy man and soon is caught up in helping Jerry remodel the huge house he purchased. Gabe thinks that Jerry has no money and he tries to get the best value for the best price, each time using this strange black credit card that he is convinced will be declined. But, of course, Jerry has a secret life as an extremely talented rock star (think a tall 26-yr-old Mick Jagger with long long blonde hair).

Okay, sure, some elements of the story are unrealistic, but I was willing to suspend disbelief and just go with the flow of this sweet, fun story where each man learns happiness is in their grasp. Gabe and Jerry's slow burn romance along with an amazingly fast total house renovation keeps the pace of the tale brisk and interesting, and while the ending is straight from reality television and the situation with Gabe's ex-wife and her religious wing-nut fiance is just bizarre, overall "Home Improvement" is a fun sweet read. 4 stars.

I received an ARC from Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest review.
Review posted at Gay Book Reviews - check it out!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Linda (un)Conventional Bookworms.
2,716 reviews330 followers
November 30, 2019
*I received a free copy of Home Improvement. This has in no way influenced my review which is honest and unbiased.*

4.5 stars

Home Improvement was another amazing story by Ms. Lain. I loved Gabe and Jerry, and I think I fell the hardest for Ellie, Gabe's daughter.

The sales person from home improvement and the mega rockstar really hit it off, and their sparks were strong and in all the colors of the rainbow. I enjoyed the fact that Jerry was hiding in Oregon, and how he and Gabe got to know each other - and develop feelings for each other - before it was known who Jerry really was.

COYER Summer 2019 Treasure Hunt: Read a book that fits in the LGBT genre. 2 POINTS
Profile Image for Emily Seelye.
726 reviews25 followers
July 11, 2019
4.5 stars

I really enjoyed this.

Jerry is a famous musician who just wants to take a break from his busy life so he buys a house off the grid.

Gabe is a single father who ends up overseeing the renovation of Jerry’s house. He will do anything for his daughter, including taking a crazy side job.

They slowly fall in love, and I love that the teenaged daughter is a big part of their life.

The only negative part of this is that it takes Jerry too long to admit who he is, hurting Gabe in the process.

*ARC provided by author
Profile Image for Lelyana's Reviews.
3,252 reviews380 followers
June 18, 2019

It's not easy being a single 'ordinary' gay man with a teenage daughter, working on an 'ordinary' furniture warehouse. Enter a mysterious guy who desperately needed his attention on his new home, then unexpectedly, the weird guy was actually a very famous person.
I liked it when the main characters in my book stumbled to each other accidentally and fall in love.
Tara Lain has my attention more when it comes to handymen.
I liked Gabe's teenage daughter Ellie, she's sounded like my twelve year old niece, an old soul.
Though I didn't really agree with Gabe's reaction when he knew who Jerry was, Home Improvement succeeded to make me stay on my bed and finished it in one sitting.
That alone, tells something that this book was worth my precious time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amy Dufera - Amy's MM Romance Reviews.
2,683 reviews119 followers
July 1, 2019
Tara Lain's Home Improvement is a fantastic romance. There's some mystery, as Jerry's hiding something. He's sleeping on an air mattress, but can pay for handmade furniture. Gabe knows something's up, but it takes a while for him to figure things out.

This romance is fun and intriguing. But it isn't until half way through that things really get good. I was surprised at the difference between the first and second halves. The first part is okay, but the second half is awesome.

Gabe's relationship with his daughter is fantastic and completely heart-warming. I truly love her contribution to the story. His ex, however is a piece of work, and causes a lot of angst. Be prepared for some homophobia.

This story explores the divide between who a person is to the public, and who they are at heart. It illustrates the battle between who you are versus who you want to be. It's stories like this that help put a reader into the mindset of a famous person. It allows us to better understand their issues with fans and the paparazzi, as well as their need to have some time to themselves.

Overall, Home Improvement is a sweet, wonderful romance. Tara Lain perfectly captures the cost of fame to one's life. The ending is superb. I love this book and highly recommend it.
Profile Image for alyssa.
792 reviews126 followers
October 2, 2021
[3.25] this was cuteeee but the drama at the end felt very overdone (as oftentimes happens when one of the mcs is an ultra famous rock star and the paparazzi are constantly on his tail 💀).

but i think what bugged me the most was Gabe's reaction to Jerry hiding his rock star persona (and in the most suspicious garb ever but we won't talk about his poor disguise choices LOL).

Jerry has spent practically his entire life being treated as a commodity to entertain the masses and for others to make money off of, nothing more, so yeah he was completely justified in wanting to be seen as a nobody, to be on equal footing with somebody for the first time in forever. however, Gabe instantly takes it as an insult, choosing to see it as Jerry making a mockery of him without even thinking of the possibility that Jerry could just be desperate to stay under the radar. not to mention that Jerry basically treats him with nothing but courtesy up until that point, but sure, let's pretend his behavior was the epitome of condescending 🤡

also this is so random but did the fact that Gabe had his daughter at a young age (17, i believe) have to be commented on a gazillion times? 🤣

no one:
literally no one:
random side character:
oH My gOd yOu lOoK ToO YoUnG To hAvE A TeEnAgE DaUgHtEr
Profile Image for Steven.
175 reviews17 followers
July 12, 2019
Tara Lain has been on my TBR list for quite some time now and Home Improvement caught my attention with some of my favorite tropes: opposites attract, single father - is home improvement a trope? It really REALLY should be.

It’s a bit predictable - It’s kind of like looking at a map, you know you’ll start at point A and end at point B but its all the roadside attractions along the way. And because this is a romance we’re guaranteed a HEA.

A reluctant rock star. A home improvement store employee. A wise beyond her years daughter. All really well developed characters. I would liked to have seen a bit more fleshing out of some of the more consequential secondary characters and their motives - some of their actions were a bit jarring. But perhaps that was the authors intent. (Oh, CW: religious zealot)

As a whole, an enjoyable sweet story about owning your own existence in order to get that happy ever after. Just enough drama thrown into the mix with a healthy dose of humor.

4 stars

Profile Image for Claudia.
2,629 reviews83 followers
August 24, 2020
hm ... this review and rating is quite difficult for me ... on one hand I really liked the story. Gabe and Jerry are good together and I really liked how their relationship developed.
but I was a bit annoyed with Gabe at the end with that "yes" and "no" attitude and the end seemed a bit easy.

but it was a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Marthea.
717 reviews3 followers
February 19, 2022
Kilka razy mało nie zasnęłam podczas czytania...

Nudne w tej książce jest wszystko - bohaterowie, zarówno razem, jak i każdy osobno, nudne dialogi, nudny romans, nudne opisy, nudna akcja, nudny seks...

Nuda wylewa się z tej historii wiadrami 🥱
Profile Image for Kristin.
1,094 reviews30 followers
July 2, 2019
This was pleasantly sweet, a little unrealistic, and a different take on the whole “rock star” trope.

I’ll start with what I found unrealistic, which begins with the blurb. I don’t know of any court that would demand a parent give up pursuing an education, because an education (read, degree) means better job prospects and better job prospects are win-win for families. That rankled me.

The book also flipped between saying at 17, Ellie has a voice in the court system, to no, she would arbitrarily be removed from her father’s care. Also rankled me. It’s one, or the other. Either she has a voice, or she doesn’t. And yes, I know a bit of what I speak and yes, it’s different in every state and situation, but, for the premise of the book…it can’t be both.

And the bit that really didn’t work for me – remodeling an older home in two weeks. Yeah, you aren’t going to be able to get those cupboards, granite counter tops or electrical work done in two weeks. You aren’t going to be putting in flooring while painting. A dilapidated pool heated and up and running? Oh bless, I know timeline was sped up for the sake of the story but, yeah. No. Contract/construction work doesn’t happen like that.

My grumbles aside, I did enjoyed the romance between Gabe and Jerry. It was slow (relatively speaking), it was endearing, the plot had good pacing, and I liked the rock-star aspect from a different angle. Was the world’s most popular rock-star bit realistic? Oh heck no, but for this, it worked and I can forgive the popularity flaws. Jerry was sweet, Gabe was solid and steadfast, and Ellie a very mature 17 year old. The dynamic worked and I read this almost in one sitting.

If you are looking for a lazy Saturday read while at the beach or hanging out in a hammock, this might be the book for you.

Review is cross posted at Gay Book Reviews
A copy of the book was provided by the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Profile Image for Calila.
1,155 reviews82 followers
July 7, 2019
*A copy was provided by the author for free in exchange for an honest review*

Another sweet lowkey read. I really felt for Jerry in his desperation for something real. Gabe I both liked and had issues with. I loved Ellie! The plot is pretty predictable and plays out fairly obviously. I had issues with Gabe's holding Jerry accountable for the assumptions Gabe made. He has a black card that works. He's obviously not broke. It's not his fault you jumped to that conclusion. Don't punish him because you made yourself feel dumb. He's also real quick to think the worst of Jerry with no evidence. It irked me. But overall I think he was a decent guy and I still liked him. I think the part with the ex-wide is wrapped up a bit too easily but it's not a big complaint. I'm also not usually a fan of GRAND public displays of contrition/love but this one didn't bother me because the half receiving it was in private and not subject to the public pressure of it. I really enjoyed the wrap up and ending. It was sweet for them.
Profile Image for Robazizo.
904 reviews3 followers
July 14, 2019
3.5 stars. A cute story, but it didn't wholly work for me. Jerry at the beginning was too big a contrast with Jet and the development of the relationship went too fast from just interested to forever love. And just like in Knight of Ocean Avenue the sexy times had a bit of a weird vibe. I loved the inclusion of Ellie and the family feeling the three of them created though.
Profile Image for Dixiecowgirl.
1,391 reviews22 followers
July 9, 2019

Finding your heart and choosing your future theme is beautifully done in this story. Carving our a bit of life for you when the world is demanding so much of your time can be daunting. These MC's both have immense demands on their time and their commitments are important. I really enjoyed the low angst and beautifully crafted plot that moves the reader on a journey that will touch your heart.

Gabe and Jerry are wonderful characters that i found touchable and was rooting for them to find their way to love. The book is well written and it flows nicely. I love the way the author took a very simple phase of 'customer on isle sixteen' and has created an image in my mind that will last for years.

I was gifted this book from the author and i freely give my review.
Profile Image for Edga.
1,621 reviews17 followers
June 23, 2019
What a lovely book. I've enjoyed Ms Lain's books for a long time, and I predict that this will be another hit. Gabe (works at a hardware store, gay dad to a teenage daughter) and Jerry (Uber famous rock star) come together in this sweet love story.

A charming romance, but also the two guys struggle to see how they can work together. Despite this, the story isn't dripping in angst and is quite a happy love story throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed reading how Gabe and Jerry's love grew, and also how well Jerry fitted into Gabe's little family. Gabe's daughter, Ellie, is a great character. I loved how everything seemed so straightforward in her mind, while the two guys hummed and hawed over the right thing to do.

I think this is up there amongst the author's best stories The main characters are real and written beautifully, l loved them both, the story has a lot of depth and Ellie was just perfect in her dealings with both her dad and Jerry.
2,223 reviews37 followers
July 9, 2019
What a charming, fun romance to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Home Improvement by Tara Lain.
Gabe and Jerry seem like they could not be more unsuitable for each other yet they are exactly what the other needs.

Add in that one is a single dad and I'm sold! Tara has such a wonderful ability to show the heart of her characters. As a reader you become invested in their HEA!
Profile Image for Z. Allora.
Author 28 books160 followers
July 17, 2019
Tara Lain is always one of my go to authors, but when my real life is tough. She gives you want out of a romance and more. I know Tara Lain's characters and stories will soothe and remind me life can be magical. I adored the complexity of these characters. I highly recommend this book. Hugs, Z.
Profile Image for Angie.
1,231 reviews17 followers
July 22, 2019
I received a copy to read and review for Wicked Reads

I loved this book. It was sweet and low on angst. I fell in love with Gabe instantly. I connected with him on all levels because I became a mom at 17. I knew right away what Jerry's big secret was but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. I loved how Ellie was a huge part of the story too. I wish this book came with pictures so I could see Jerry's house and Gabe's furniture. This was a sweet love story with a few minor bumps in the road on the way. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Becca.
2,454 reviews23 followers
July 10, 2019

This was a pretty sweet story, but a reminder that secrets can hurt.
Jerry is trying to keep himself hidden. He goes into a home improvement store looking for stuff to renovate his new home, but really has no clue where to start. But meeting Gabe, who works there, has settled Jerry in a way he really never had been and he wants to hire Gabe immediately to renovate his home. Gabe has no clue with most of the stuff but knows people who do and they get started. Pretty soon the house is looking like a home and Jerry and Gabe seem to be hitting it off. Until Gabe's daughter's birthday present. A concert of Jet Gemini, who is none other than Jerry. Feeling used and lied to Gabe rushes out and Jerry is a wreck trying to figure out how to make things right. He eventually does, but more storms hit with the paparazzi and Jerry being done with being Jet. He wants a normal life. But with what the paparazzi are printing and saying, there may be no coming back from this one.
I couldn't imagine being in Jerry's shoes. At all. I've never wanted to be in the limelight or front and center. I am perfectly happy being in the background. To have to deal with all the drama and not being able to just be himself or have real friends or live his life. It's insane. So I don't blame him for grabbing on to Gabe with both hands and not letting go. Gabe worried about him, his finances and everything. He treated him like he was a real person not a rock star. He had no clue who Jerry was. And it was wonderful. He felt free. Even more when he met Ellie, Gabe's daughter. He felt he had a little family. Until assholes tried to mess that up.
Which makes me feel for Gabe and Ellie. Having the blowback of being in a rock star's life. Some people love it. Not me. And they weren't too thrilled either. Gabe just wanted the best life for his kid. That's it. He put his life on hold to give Ellie the best life. So when all this happened with Jerry, it was heartbreaking. He felt used. And lower than dirt.
Communication is always key. No matter how much you may want to hide, you have to consider everything and everyone around you and how it affects it all. You can't hide and not expect a blowout. It's a bit of an angsty story but not bad. I love Ellie. She made it for me. See what you guys think.

Profile Image for Kristina.
480 reviews33 followers
July 25, 2019
What I wouldn’t give to have this book be a movie! It has everything I would love to see: a wonderful single father, the shy awkward guy who needs help bringing his house back to life, drama, and two guys slowly falling in love. 

Gabe is now on my favorite Single Dads list, because of his dedication to raising his daughter and keeping her in his home instead of with her mother. I adore everything about this story.

Jerry was cute and shy and I loved him and wanted more. I loved his home as well - I love those shows on TV where people renovate old houses, so that was a plus for me. 

This was actually my first Tara Lain book, though I do have a couple others by her that I haven’t read yet but definitely want to.

*** Copy provided by Dreamspinner Press to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
657 reviews
June 17, 2019
Here it goes....this story is really cute. Yes, I said cute. Gabe is a single dad doing his best to raise his daughter. He has given up some of his dreams to give her a stable life. His ex-wife is a constant source of tension in their lives. Gabe doesn't date because he is aware that his ex is likely to use his dating as a cause to change the custody arrangements. And then Gabe meets Jerry and his world is turned upside down. Jerry is an incredibly awkward dude. He stops in at the home improvement store to buy knobs for his kitchen and instead he ends up hiring Gabe to renovate his entire house. Jerry comes off as a bit of a naive loner. In the end, Gabe and Jerry are a perfect fit because neither man is what they appear.

I really liked how the men got to know each other from all of the different aspects of their lives. The men are both multifaceted characters. I really like that both more than just one thing. I don't want to give it away but there is a nifty twist (it was a little obvious once the story got going).

I recommend this story to anyone that likes m/m contemporary romance. This is a sweet love story. It's also a very fast read.

Gabe swallowed hard. While Jerry's hand felt ridiculously good, he'd never help the hand of a man in his life, even his own father. loc 958

"The best. Amazing really. I don't know how many kids could be born to a seventeen-year-old father and a totally mismatched set of parents and wind up so bright and well-adjusted. Jesus, she keeps me together." loc 1017
Profile Image for Dawn.
625 reviews5 followers
July 14, 2022
So much more enjoyable than I was expecting. This book has been languishing in my audiobook queue for literally years. For some reason, I’ve never felt compelled to pull it up. But I’ve made it my mission of late to attack the languishers and thus I pushed play on this a couple of days ago. I have to say it completely took me by surprise.

I had no idea what it was about, didn’t read the blurb nor any reviews, so the plot, and its execution, were unknown. Plenty of folks don’t like the movie/rock star trope but if it’s done well, it can completely be my jam. And I thought this was done very well. I loved both MCs and how star-crossed they were. I loved Gabe’s daughter, even if she did seem to be a poised, confident, brilliant, enviably capable 30yo woman encased inside a just-turned 17yo girl. I loved watching as the ramshackle, neglected house was transformed into a thing of beauty, even if I was completely dubious over the timeline in which that was accomplished (one week??). I loved how the scene played out where Gabe realized who Jerry was and the scene where Jerry had dinner with Gabe and Ellie after that discovery. I loved how there was very little angst and what drama there was, was realistic and not overdone. I loved their wedding and HEA. So, yeah, I thought there was a lot to appreciate here, esp given my lack of enthusiasm going in, and I’d def recommend giving it a go.
Profile Image for Sanna.
500 reviews16 followers
May 21, 2020
This was a contemporary MM standalone rock star slow-burn romance with a HEA.

What a pleasant and enjoyable read! It was one of my favourite category aka sweet and cute, definitely for me. Here it worked very well. So well written in the usual style I enjoy a lot. Both guys are so cute and so about each other, awww ♥️

The main characters are Jerry and Gabe. The story starts at Gabe living quite happily with his teenaged daughter and working in a hardware store while dreaming about being able to have his own business properly and finding some romance interest for himself after the daughter grows up just a bit more. One day, a perfectly ordinary day, an unlikely character for a Prince Charming shows up in the form of shyly acting Jerry. Jerry who really needs help in renovating a newly bought big house that's fallen into quite some disrepair and needs a complete overhaul otherwise too. Cue Gabe, cute Gabe, and Jerry thinks "Oh, what do mine eyes see!" and falls, deep and fast. And grabs himself a renovator.

There's a house calling to be beautified, two guys who need to decide how to say that they really like each other, a secret identity, paparazzi, a supportive daughter, new life choices to be made ...
Romantic, yes! ♥️

Very much what I enjoy when I want a story like this.
Profile Image for Xanthe.
1,766 reviews27 followers
July 6, 2019
What a sweet romance, a true Tara Lain story with easily lovable characters and an enjoyable story.
Gabe is the best father he can be to his wonderfully smart teenage daughter, working a steady job and staying away from dating to prevent any possible backlash in his custody of her. He definitely didn't bank on Jerry. He's so freaking adorable right from the start with how nervous he is around people and with such an innocence about him. His immediate attachment to Gabe makes for some fun times and a surprise job opportunity that would mean Gabe can put money away for Ellie to go to college.
There is a secret that is going to blow things wide open for the new friends but it has to be decided whether their attraction and new feelings/connection are worth what they would take on or possibly lose.
Such a well written romance. I found it easy to fall into the story and just enjoy it. Gabe and Ellie made a great team, truly there for each other with a fantastic bond. The attraction that each man felt for the other was clear from the start and it was nice reading them dance around the possibility of anything between them. We even have a couple of "bad guys" to watch out for who bring a bit of drama to the story and added to the tension/entertainment.
A definite recommendation from me. Those who love Tara Lain's work will enjoy it and it's a great contemporary romance.
I received an ARC and am happily giving a review.
1,783 reviews18 followers
July 14, 2019
Hits on Every Level

What a surprise, and what a beautiful book this is! Cover man Gabe Mason is a 33-year-old single father of 17-year-old Ellie which sets the stage for the entire plotline and romance.

You can see what is likely to happen as Gabe, who is a customer service person at a home improvement store, gets snookered by the mysterious mid-20s slacker-like Jerry Castor into taking over the complete renovation of an incredibly stunning, yet decrepit, mansion in Ashland, the tony town up the road from Gabe's hometown in Oregon.

Author Tara Lain gives us a completely insightful bunch of chapters examining Gabe and Ellie's relationship while giving hints of why Jerry seems to be so reticent to share his life story.

There is a light which goes on around the 25% mark where you can figure out where this is going, and when it does the book takes off in flights of lust, angst, bigotry, and eventually love, which will overwhelm you with the intensity of how life tends to be too complicated to deal with at times.

The plotline has very few holes but plenty of hints as to where it's going. Even though I figured out basically every twist that was about to come, author Lain did a superb job of keeping me interested: She continued to plumb the emotions of Gabe, Jerry and Ellie in a book which will leave you smiling, and maybe even laughing, at the end. Bravo!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 169 reviews

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