I absolutely adore the Belladonna Arms series by John Inman, always anxiously waiting for the next installment. I do believe though that with this latest addition to the series, we may have seen the last of Arthur, the drag queen with a heart of gold, and the unique set of characters that all live in this somewhat dilapidated apartment building on a hill in San Diego.
I'm getting ahead of myself though. If you've followed the series, which should not be read out of order, you'll probably know that Arthur is preparing to finally get married. Though this doesn't stop him from opening his property and his huge heart to two more desperate souls who just need a bit of love pollen to find their way back from the abyss.
Gideon has just broken up with his boyfriend, now ex, whose last parting shot was donating all of Gideon's belongings to the Salvation Army, save his laptop, the clothes he was wearing at the time, and a couple of t-shirts he had in the trunk of his car. To say Gideon is hard up would be an understatement. But Arthur makes him a deal on the rent, and the generous spirit of the tenants at the Belladonna Arms is a indomitable force, and soon Gideon finds himself the recipient of all the things he needs. Slowly but surely, as he's embraced and welcomed by the tenants, the grief and anger over the ex lifts and Gideon begins to look forward.
Even if he's a ginger.
His apartment neighbor is Reed, who works on the Navy docks and has just come out of a four-year marriage where he hoped that he was bisexual instead of gay. Alas, he's really, really gay, and while his relationship with his now ex-wife ended mostly on good terms, he's lost his house in the divorce, hence his renting an apartment from Arthur. His guilt over leaving his wife due to that whole not-bisexual business still weighs heavily on him, and he's definitely not ready for anything new.
Oh, and Reed too is a ginger.
I will comment here on the ginger hate that seemed to permeate this book. I don't know if this was tongue in cheek or if the author truly believes that two gingers couldn't possibly fall for each other, and what the whole point was of hating on gingers the whole time, but it became bothersome a few chapters in and I had to force myself to just ignore it.
Reed and Gideon meet, and Reed offers to help Gideon with some repairs to the apartment, and the love pollen is strong and so their romance begins.
But gingers (according to the author) cannot be attracted to another ginger (what does that even mean?) and so they just skirt around that whole relationship issue because the sex is awesome, and the cuddles after are a balm for Reed's wounded soul. Gideon falls faster than he would think, and soon they spend a whole lot of time together.
But guilt is a funny thing, and... well... I guess it makes you stupid too, sometimes, and makes you do things you wouldn't otherwise do. I so badly wanted to reach into this book and slap one of these gingers over the head to make him see how he was being manipulated, but I couldn't and so... well, you read this for yourself.
Of course, all the tenants from previous books make an appearance here, multiple times. And we mustn't forget Arthur, larger than life, dressed in what can only be described as over-the-top costumes, huffing and puffing his way up and down the stairs, trembling in fear during the multiple earthquakes that rattle the windows, preparing for his wedding to Tom - Arthur alone is worth reading this series of books. The hijinks and hilarity and feel good moments are a bonus, really.
And of course, there is a HEA. Gideon and Reed have to take a couple of detours, but in the end they get their happy, as they should.
Like I said, not sure if there will be more, but either way, you should read this. All of the books in this series.
Though, OMG, what is it with the ginger hate???
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **