Reviews

Tamarillo Tart by Jay Hogan

jumpylion's review

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3.5

lyssnat på storytel.

robinsease's review

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adventurous emotional lighthearted reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

bookscoffeepie's review

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4.0

City meets Country, Kiwi-style. Romance ensues.

4 stars, with personal caveats.

Upfront - I’m not really a big horses/cowboy/city-country fan, and wouldn’t have bothered with this if it was most other authors. But Jay Hogan wrote one of my favorite books of 2019 ([b:Digging Deep|45720345|Digging Deep (Digging Deep, #1)|Jay Hogan|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1560439438l/45720345._SY75_.jpg|70500746]), so I stuck with it. I’m glad I did.

In the first third of the book, scenes seemed to be misplaced, like Stef and Cass shared too much too soon. Objectively, I could tell the purpose of each conversation, but I wasn’t invested in either character enough to care yet. I kept thinking, “GET ON THE DAMNED HORSE ALREADY.” This is where my dislike of these tropes probably worked against me, but I never did feel fully engaged with Stef and Cass.

However, the action-driven second half had me yelling at my family to leave me alone so I could finish. Suddenly, the vignettes that confused me in the beginning made more sense as Stef and Cass found themselves having to deal with a freak storm and its aftermath, as well as their growing attraction. And when Cass spoke with his father towards the end of the book, my heart stuttered a bit - such a quiet, emotion-filled scene. Just perfect.

All in all, It ended up a 4-star read for me, and if you’re a fan of city-guy-meets-cowboy (even though Cass would argue that he isn’t a cowboy), you’d rate it higher.

Copy received for honest review.

enayqueerbooklover's review

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5.0

4.5 stars

Swoon /5

galleytrot's review

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.75

READ: Apr 2023 
FORMAT: Digital 

BRIEF SUMMARY: 
In this contemporary romance, Stef and his best friend have plans to take a guided horseback tour through some of the natural locations of Lord of the Rings movie sets. It’s the sort of outing that goes completely against Stef’s city-blooded lifestyle, especially considering his fear of horses and the fact that Tanner cancels on him last-minute. After watching Cass - the tour’s guide - step out like something straight from a Texas country pub in his Stetson hat and cowboy boots, he decides that maybe not all hope is lost, and at least the eye candy might help get him through the tedious ordeal if nothing else. 

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3.5 / 5⭐ 
This story was quite sweet, if not especially impactful or memorable. It’s very big-city meets small-country in tone, and never stops reminding us of that. Cass runs his business by bringing tourists out to experience the natural beauty of the New Zealand woods, rivers, and mountains in a way that the big screen could never adequately portray them. Stef is a massive LotR fan, and even though roughing it has never been in his agenda in any way; and even though horses are massive, unpredictable bringers of death with horror-teeth and a will of their own; and even though he never saw himself ever falling for anyone so neatly fitting into the textbook definition of a cowboy, he’s prepared to put himself outside of his comfort zone if for no other reason than to piss off an unrepentant homophobe. 

Sparks fly and attraction is immediate between both Cass and Steph, but there are complications to face: they live on opposite ends of the country from one another; their lifestyles are completely antithetical to one another; Steph is out and loud and proud, while Cass is locally closeted in his bisexuality; both have been burned by relationships that were set up for failure from the start; and, both are very certain that one taste of what they could have together is simply not going to be enough. 

TECHNICAL / PRODUCTION: 3.75 / 5⭐ 
This is not my first book from Hogan, but it’s my first after resolving to consume books more mindfully and write detailed reviews for each one. To me, Hogan’s writing is fairly par for the course – she doesn’t stand out or shine above other romance authors, but neither does she suffer under scrutiny. Her stories are pretty solid and I admire the focus on imperfect families and relationships that face additional challenges (i.e.; divorced parents, neurodivergent relatives, substance abuse, etc.). 

Due to availability, I skipped reading the first book in this series and this second one did not suffer much for it. I prefer when stories within a romance series are more self-contained. This one referenced and cameoed the first book’s couple often enough that I figured out who they must be, but it never revealed so much that circling back to read the first one would be a drag. I’m very prone to rallying away from reading a romance if I’ve been given the gist of their journey, outcome and all. 

FINAL THOUGHTS - OVERALL: 3.75 / 5⭐ 
I recommend this read if you’re looking for something with more of a circumstantial angst rather than relationship angst. Our boys are mostly pretty mature about how they handle the hangups they each have, and it’s actually quite refreshing. The conflict here is coming from an outside source in this book’s case. 

This book has representation for gays and bisexuals. There is a neurodivergent side character (Down syndrome). There is otherwise not much in the way of diversity. 

The following elaborates on my content warnings. These may be interpreted as spoilers, but I do not go into deep detail.
SpoilerThis book contains: homophobia; someone getting sneezed on by a horse (as someone who has been sneezed on by a horse, I assure you this is a legitimate content warning); mild alcohol use; mentions of horse excrement; mild injury to a horse; horse-related accident causing injuries, bleeding, medical trauma; on-page depiction of seizure/convulsions; urination; and, vomiting related to injuries and trauma.

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linacarlsson's review

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emotional funny hopeful lighthearted relaxing fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.25


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midaeros's review

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adventurous lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.75

notguilty's review

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5.0

This took me a beat to connect with, but once I did…ooph, I was 100% invested. A slow burn for the reader as we surreptitiously get to know the true character of these two absolutely lovely people

It starts out fun and flirty in the beginning, until things get real, then you start to understand them, and become quite attached. Once Stefan starts to move past his over-the-top city boy routine, and Cassidy starts to believe that he could be enough for someone, they will capture your heart. They are complete opposites but in the best possible way. Stefan is lively and wild. Cassidy is steady and calm. It’s the perfect compliment to one another.

There was so much in this story that didn’t follow what one expected to happen and it delighted me to no end. It was also pretty successful in making me want to move to New Zealand.

4.5 Stars

ccreadsbooks_'s review

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5.0

Hands down one of my favourite authors, Jay Hogan has another spectacular winner with Tamarillo Tart. I confess to having no idea what a Tamarillo is but I was captivated all the same. The characters were realistic and vibrant as the stunning vistas described. I loved every moment of the book!

ccgwalt's review

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4.0

I enjoyed Tamarillo Tart from the beginning and even though I had some quibbles about the pacing, I continued to enjoy the story all the way through. It's a fairly low angst read even with some tense moments
Spoiler like when one character is seriously injured
. The main characters are fun and likable, and the few side characters add both tension and interest to the story.

We met Stefan (Stef) in book 1, Powder & Pavlova, as Tanner's best friend in Auckland, giving Tanner some dubious relationship advice and wondering how in the world anyone can live anywhere outside a big city. Ethan, Tanner's boyfriend, gifts Tanner and Stef a weekend horse trek though the area where The Lord of the Rings was filmed. Stef being a bit of a LOTR fan decides he willing to endure dirt in order to see those sites. Tanner has to bail out at the last minute, but Stef decides to try it on his own. I have to admit I'm not sure I understand this, since he is really terrified of horses and doesn't like dirt...like at all. But, I went with the set up.

Cassidy (Cass) is the owner of Martin Stables Tours and is amused and intrigued by his new client. It's not a spoiler to say Cass isn't as straight as everyone assumes, and the interest sparks between the two men early on.

The pacing issues come quickly as several early scenes feel elongated? padded? It's difficult to describe. In basically the first scene of the book, Stef is on the phone with Tanner and Cass is waiting. But while the banter between Stef and Tanner, and then between Stef and Cass is amusing, the whole phone call scene goes on for pages with Cass continually telling Stef he needs to get going. Then a few scenes later Cass is getting the horses ready and talking to Dee, the woman who provides provisions, and again, the scene goes on for a longer time than necessary. Then the scene where he's coaxing Stef onto the horse...and so forth. Several times scenes just seem to circle back on themselves a few times before there is forward motion.

But even with the pacing issues and a few horsy details that made me shake my head, I really did enjoy the book! I really liked the characters and I needed a fun escapist read.