Friday, June 6, 2014

Review by Jodi- Out of the Gate by EM Lynley

Author: EM Lynley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 4/5 Smooches


British actor Wesley Tremayne thinks he’s close to hitting the big time—a film career—with his role as a hunky explorer on a popular American TV show. Success should be just around the corner, as long as he keeps his sexual orientation a secret. Wes’s best friend and beard, Julia Compton, forms the other half of a glamorous Hollywood couple that’s merely a façade.

Evan Taylor left his acting career behind five years ago without looking back. He's always been more comfortable around horses than people—especially Hollywood types. His new life training racehorses is a dream come true, but increasing financial problems and an abusive boyfriend have him doubting himself and his choices.

Then Wes and his friends buy a third-rate racehorse—partially for publicity—and send him to Evan’s stable. Wes’s friendship with Evan soon develops into an overpowering attraction he can’t act on. He's never met a man like Evan, but if there’s any chance for a future together, Wes must choose between a career he loves and the man he adores.


Sir Walter Scott wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” That phrase seems an appropriate comment for the characters in EM Lynley’s novel Out of the Gate. In this novel, the characters intentionally and unintentionally practice deception.  

Lynley has taken a relatively straightforward plot and melded it with interesting characters and a few simple plot twists to keep readers engaged and wanting more. Lynley does a great job of developing the characters through description and dialogue, both internal and external.

Wesley, Julia, Lance, Vanessa and Brent are actors on a hit television series. When readers first meet them, the group is at a horse track. Brent, who is friends with horse trainer Evan Taylor, is the only one familiar with horse racing. Despite being novices, the group has fun betting on the horses and decides to purchase a race horse.

Out of the gate, these characters seem a bit superficial and spoiled. They seem to like to have a good time, drink too much and attract attention. Upon first glance, they are not very responsible. But there is something different about Wes that makes him stand out from the group.

Wes seems a bit more down to earth, and readers find out quickly that he is hiding a secret. His romantic relationship with Julia is a carefully orchestrated façade that they both entered into to help their careers. They are not just putting on an act for the public, but also for their fellow actors. Although both Wes and Julia appear to be carefree, happy and in like with each other, appearances can be deceiving.

“Wes, I think we really need to talk about this.”
“What’s to talk about?”
“I don’t want to keep doing this either.”
“Did you meet someone?” He glanced over quickly and saw her shake her head.
“No. But it’s making you miserable. Is it worth it?”
“Saul thinks so.”
“You really want to keep playing this game for the media and your manager? This kind of deception only sets back wider acceptance of gay actors. No one’s lost their roles over coming out lately. The homophobic actors are the ones losing out. Remember Isaiah Washington? Where’s he now? Even Alec Baldwin lost a job for his big, fat mouth.”

          At the beginning of the novel, Julia seems to support Wes, but she is just as concerned about her career as he is, and at this point in time, their careers are intimately linked. Julia seems to realize that Wes is unhappy before he does. That observation proves to be ironic.

"Get your priorities straight, Wes. Focus on your career. You don't getsecond chances around here. Take a few days off and the next hungry actor will crawl over your dead body to get a part you should have had." She let out a little huff and stalked off in the direction of her bedroom.

          Going along with the theme of appearances being deceiving, the readers are introduced to horse trainer Evan Taylor and his jet setting boyfriend Gary. Without giving away too much of the plot, let’s just say, they have some serious problems. One issue that is apparent from the beginning is that Gary seems to have no respect for Evan. There is more to it than that though. Gary is abusive and a user who does not seem to be concerned about Evan’s wellbeing. Gary’s betrayal is dramatic and violent.

Evan has had a very negative experience in Hollywood and dislikes people associated with the industry. He reluctantly agrees to train a horse that the group of actors buys together because he is having some financial challenges, and Brent is his friend. Despite Evan‘s dislike of Hollywood types, he is drawn to Wes.

Evan quickly pressed the button to close the message, not trusting his eyes. He got a pleasant flutter in his belly at the idea Wes wanted to come up on his own, but it soon turned into a heavy stone. He only imagined there was more to Wes’s request than there possibly could be.

Wes would bring Julia, of course. Evan read the message again, expecting his wishful thinking had read all the pronouns wrong the first time around. But at second, third, and fourth reading, it still said “I” and “my.” All singular.

Evan’s spirits lifted again.

He spent a frustrating ten minutes reminding himself how bad an idea it would be to let himself fall in love with a sexy actor—who had a girlfriend yet continued to send Evan maddeningly mixed signals.

Wes Tremayne embodied nearly everything Evan hated, feared, or avoided, yet Evan couldn’t stay away from the guy.

Just how much worse could Evan's life get now?

And, Wes is drawn to Evan. Wes realizes he is in trouble the first time he talks to Evan.

Wes tuned out their chatter, smiling as he replayed that first encounter in his mind. It had been only a few seconds, but it made quite an impression on Wes. Evan Taylor was damn fine. Lively hazel eyes reminded him of vintage champagne, and the straight nose, and strong, square jaw wouldn’t have been out of place on Wes’s interpretation of a Greek god. He was several inches shorter than Wes, who had a thing for tall men. But with a face like that, well, he could make an exception.

In fact he already had. This was the good-looking trainer he’d been ogling through binoculars the previous week and occasionally daydreaming about.

But only in his wildest fantasies, because Evan already had a boyfriend, though anyone who wouldn’t turn around when he shouted didn’t deserve him. Wes thought the dark-haired guy leaving as they arrived had glanced at the porch as if he hoped Evan wouldn’t come out. What was going on there?

          It is not just Evan that Wes is attracted to; he also likes the peace and quiet of the farm, and the way the horses are being cared for.  Wes loves acting, but he misses the stage and he doesn’t like having to hide who he is.

He hopped in the shower and dressed in black jeans, with an Armani shirt and jacket, and put a little gel in his hair to keep it from frizzing in the California heat. It beat the typical British chill, but he’d never quite got used to it almost year round. He went to the underground garage beneath his building and slid into the smooth leather of the Porsche Boxster. It was the first car he’d ever owned—he’d never needed one in London or New York—and he hadn’t got used to either the left-hand drive, or the LA traffic yet. It was luxurious enough to match his star image, but not so expensive he’d feel embarrassed driving around in it.

God, how he hated all the identities he felt expected to wear, even when he wasn’t in front of a camera. He was seriously considering chucking it all in and going back to the stage. Maybe television just wasn’t right for him, and if that was the only way to get into films, then he could just tick that one off the list too.

He thought about Evan Taylor, and his exodus from Hollywood began to make more sense.

          Lynley does a great job developing this story and characters.  Aside from Wes and Evan though, the rest of the characters are not very developed or likeable. It is interesting how Lynley uses the superficiality of the other characters to enhance the personalities of Wes and Evan. Of course, that aspect does make the reader more engaged in wanting the two men to find peace of mind together, especially when readers find out what is behind Evan’s behaviors. Overall this was a well written and engaging story.

**ARC provided by Pride Promotions in return for an honest review**

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