Finlay McIntyre (aka Raven) is a successful adult film star with a penchant for kilts, until an accident cuts short his stardom and leaves him with zero sexual desire, lowered self-esteem, and no job. He knew his porn career wouldn't last forever, but he wasn't prepared for retirement at 28. While trying to figure out the rest of his life, Raven agrees to attend a high school reunion. That's when a malfunctioning AC unit in his hotel room changes everything. Caleb Sanderson, an entrepreneur with his own HVAC business, has no idea what to expect when he steps into Raven's hotel room to fix his AC unit. They're attracted to each other, but Caleb, closeted, can't afford a gay relationship, not with his mom pressuring him to produce grandchildren. If he wants to keep Raven - who no closet could hold - he'll need to tell his family the truth. But Raven has a few secrets of his own. He refuses to reveal his porn past to Caleb, a past that might be the final obstacle to Caleb and Raven having any kind of relationship.
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Raven is an ex-porn star who never regretted his profession. He gets injured in a way that leaves horrible scarring and the result is an end to his career and a huge dent in his self-esteem. He takes jobs as an escort – minus the happy endings – to make ends meet and that’s where he meets Caleb.
Caleb is in the closet, an HVAC expert and hot. He fixes Raven’s AC one night and the two strike up a slow burn attraction/relationship.
The chemistry between them is heated, but Caleb reluctance to come out and Raven’s personal fears keep them apart for a bit.
Eventually they give in to temptation and they find that there’s more to their attraction than lust and they begin to build a relationship. But… they’re both hiding things and when those things come out it may be the end of their budding relationship.
There were parts of this that I just loved: the slow burn, the chemistry between the two, the very real feel to Raven’s emotions and his own ability to recognize his own vanity/needs as far as the spotlight goes, Caleb’s desire to be a “good son” and the Romance Convention connection.
Things that I didn’t like as much: I didn’t quite understand Caleb’s need to be in the closet in the first place, nor did I understand exactly why Raven hid his career for so long, and I thought the ending was abrupt – both in the climactic fight and subsequent forgiveness.
All in all, it was a captivating read with characters I really enjoyed, steamy times, interesting secondary characters and a sweet love story.
Highly recommended 4.5 of 5 stars Audio David Ross is a new to me narrator. The easiest way I can describe his narration style is : vanilla. He added not much flair or accents to differentiate the rich and diverse cast of characters, though it was always easy to tell who was speaking. He was not exactly flat in his narration style, but he didn't have that extra polish that we see in some of the better narrators. He was perfectly easy to listen to and never bothered me, so that definitely counts in his favor. All in all I'd place him slightly a bit above acceptable into "good" territory. 3.5 of 5 stars Overall 4 of 5 stars
I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.
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!