Love at the Haven Series Books 3-6, Stella Shaw
Every story except Rick has the titled escort, or rent boy, finding their HEA with a punter, or a client. Rick owns the Haven Hotel. And before I forget, the covers for these books are amazing. So much care to find the right model for the character in the title. Gorgeous.
Micah: Fox turns up the Haven to have some anonymous anxiety-reducing sex when there’s a kerfuffle going on upstairs involving some escorts. It’s Tom, Liam, a punter, and Micah coming to Tom’s aid. Micah and the abfab Tom are best friends. Because of the, uh, difficulty, there’s a need to change the guy “Fred” (Fox) booked to see as opposed to who he ends up with, which is the very caring, sultry Micah. Fox is the lead singer and songwriter of an up and coming streaming band, Renard, which Micah doesn’t know. He only discovers this later when his younger brother is fanboying this band, Renard and there is Fox. Anyhow, after one night with Micah, Fox is fairly hooked. They both love music. They both love writing it and singing it but neither looks at being frontmen. Only, Fox currently is. How do a rising popstar and an escort make their HEA happen? They have a rhythm that’s incredibly in sync. Fox is lovely, Micah is delightful, and Stella Shaw works her magic.
Liam: Liam is an escort and personal trainer who works the kink or BDSM room – #8 – at the Haven. One night he’s booked by a man who comes to his appointment looking stunning, dressed to the nines, including high heeled boots and an attitude that shocks Liam. Where Liam normally calls the shots, Felix takes charge once in room 8. Felix has a need to be able to take control after being seen as a vacuous model, being told what to dress in, where to stand, how to look at the camera, to smile, etc. He pretty quickly discovers that Liam has a secret he’s never told anyone before and he helps Liam accept all of who he is, and the burly Liam allows quite a degree of control to Felix, and only Felix. This book is very, very light on actual BDSM if you don’t like BDSM stories. I really liked that Liam stays on in room #8 and takes clients even though in a relationship with Felix because Felix has no hang-ups and Liam drops the sex and focuses purely on kink and domination itself. The overall book flips stereotypes on their head. I liked that.
Tom: Ah, Tom. What an intriguing character Tom has become. I’m sure the author has some interesting dialogue in her head with and around him. He’s flamboyant and sassy and cheeky and unfiltered, his style and aesthetic is something else. He’s clearly got a difficult backstory but we don’t know it. We just know that he was sharing a flat with Micah before Micah found Fox. He used to work the streets with Micah. He sometimes stays at Micah’s family’s house because he’s adopted them and them him. He has clothes at the Haven and sometimes stays there as well. Tom knows all the op shop staff and homeless people and the quirky types in the Earl’s Court area of London. This was a short featuring an inflatable hot tub that Tom thought would be a diversion for the Haven escorts. It was a little peek at Tom and Craig, Eliot’s arrogant boss from Rick. A snapshot and promise of things to come in another book featuring Tom. Bring it on!
Arne: A cook in the Hotel Haven’s kitchen before the escorts showed up, Arne knew Aunty Pop because he originally worked for her as the hotel became increasingly rundown. Then Pop died, leaving her nephew Rick the Haven. Rick stepped up, fell in love with the place, got a small loan and started to do little things to make the original hotel a gay escort haven with heart. Arne, who was living behind the kitchen, stayed on and continued to be a part of the hotel in both capacities – cook and escort. Arne ends up with Simon, who used to be Eliot’s PA at a bank before Eliot linked up with Rick. Simon came across to run business services from room #7. Arne and Simon didn’t hit it off really well at first but their shared love of cooking, Simon’s interest in food through the ages, a vlog dream, and the fact that both men have a breakup at the same time helps cement their relationship together.
The fact that I’ve read all 7 books in quick succession after finding them says a lot for my love of this charming, light-hearted, and sensual little series. I buy most of my own books that I review, so I’m considered in what I choose to spend my money on. I well and truly got caught up in the family that lives and loves and works in and around the Haven Hotel. You don’t have to read these books in order, although I’d recommend starting with Dante just to get the lay of the land, but I’m personally glad I’ve read them all. You can pick any one you like the sound of and simply enjoy that as a standalone. The escorts and their growing ‘friends as family’ that Rick, and now Rick and Eliot, provide for them keeps me coming back. The legacy that Aunty Pop started and passed onto Rick via the Haven Hotel is awesome. That Rick and the Haven’s escorts want to keep this place going during tough or tight times, whether they leave or stay, says a whole lot about the ticker of the characters and the series. Some of the guys have decent biological family but the Haven Hotel is special to them all as they’ve worked to make it a safe place, a special place. An actual haven from a sometimes uncaring world. I’ve found this series to be a complete and utter delight, and I’m not known to be big on contemporary romance. I’ve given 4 Stars across the board for books 1-6 on Goodreads, so 4 stars it is!