Review: Ben and Shiloh (Belladonna Arms #4) by John Inman

Shiloh Smart is alone and looking for a fresh start. Convinced he’s finished with love forever, he signs a lease at the Belladonna Arms, a tacky, run-down apartment building situated high on a hill in downtown San Diego.

Determined to turn his back on romance, Shiloh works hard at carving out a life for himself where love doesn’t stand a chance and staying single is all that matters.

Then his drag queen landlord’s nephew, Ben Moss, moves in. Thanks to a rumor Ben has heard since childhood of a fifty-year-old crime and a fortune in stolen money, he sets out to find the loot supposedly hidden decades ago in his uncle’s apartment building.

The minute Ben spots a kilted Shiloh toddling off to work at the Scottish restaurant up the street where he waits tables, he falls hard and fast for the aloof young redhead. Even a hidden treasure can’t compete in Ben’s eyes with the beautiful waiter with the fiery copper hair.

But even while he diligently works to break down Shiloh’s defenses, Ben doesn’t give up his quest for buried treasure. Soon, as their friendship deepens, the two young men join forces in a search for the stolen cash.

As the treasure hunt gathers steam and all the tenants get involved, Ben and Shiloh come to realize the greatest treasure isn’t buried in the Belladonna Arms at all. It’s buried far deeper—in each other’s hearts!

Greetings my fellow Belladonnians.

We gather here today to wallow joyously in the love pollen that spreads through the Belladonna Arms.

We gather to honor OTT drag queens with hearts of gold, kilts, firsts, friendships, gingers and did I mention kilts?

Given the state of our world, I really needed this story and I can always count on John Inman to give me a tale that makes me turn into a puddle of goo with the aforementioned love pollen. I’m generally not a huge fan of overly sweet stories, but John’s flavor of sweet totally works for me. The good dose of humor, snark and sexy times gives the Belladonna Arms series more personality than most. The depth of the secondary characters gives these books their appeal just as much as the MC’s and it actually seems wrong to call them secondary characters.

The whole series has great balance. Serenading Stanley, Book 1 was incredibly romantic and set the stage for the rest. Work in Progress, Book #2 and Coming Back, Book #3 in the series were just as romantic but they also tackled some heavier issues with respect while still hanging on to the hopeful romance. Ben and Shiloh circled back around to a more Serenading Stanley feel to me and it makes the overall series arc more relatable. The focus stays on the characters and the issues we’re already been privy too without getting diluted by an unnecessary amount of more drama just for the sake of it.

There are two new residents introduced in Ben and Shiloh and yes, they were Ben and Shiloh. Shiloh is a young man who has been burned by love and booted out of his two timing ex’s apartment. He’s a server at a Scottish themed restaurant, hence the kilts. The kilt is like catnip to many, myself included and it was funny to read it worked into the story line throughout.

Shiloh ends up at the Belladonna arms and under the wing of Arthur the resident landlord and drag queen. I love when Arthur meets people for the first time, it’s always amusing as hell. Not long after Shiloh settles in, Ben arrives. Ben is Arthur’s nephew and when the residents heard he was moving in there was all kinds of speculation about what he would be like. No one really expected a massive mountain of muscle with a handsome face and a sweet as pie personality though, so it was a pleasant surprise all around. Shiloh thinks Ben is a little off as one would expect from a relative of Arthur’s because it turns out there’s an urban legend about a cash trove stashed somewhere in the Belladonna Arms and Ben is convinced he can find it. Shiloh is convinced Ben is nuts. Yummy, but nuts.

The two of them get to know one another through a series of mishaps and run-ins while Shiloh is just going about his life and Ben is treasure hunting. Ben also makes it his mission to court Shiloh and I absolutely loved every moment of the wooing. Shiloh didn’t give in too easily, he was still a little gun shy about the whole love pollen thing, but Ben is a sincere and persistent persuader and soon enough the guys are on their way to building a forever type of relationship.

That’s one of my favorite things about this series, the characters don’t wait to get together until the end, they get together earlier on so I get lots of page time with them and their relationship. And the page time with Ben and Shiloh was delicious. There is no doubt that they trip each other’s triggers. The descriptions of them and pretty much everything they do was wonderfully thorough. The two are complete opposites physically and the author worked the kilts into their time together as well which will make many readers very happy. There was more to their alone time than the rubbing of tingly bits too, they were ridiculously romantic, funny and caring with one another and I needed to read that and get it into my life right now.

The mystery is secondary to the love story, but it isn’t forgotten and the wrap up was fun and it fit into the Belladonna Arms history just right. There’s HEA’s all around as the love pollen in this one was at epic levels and I’d recommend the entire series to anyone feels like they need to fall in love with love again.

For more information on Ben and Shiloh, check it out on Goodreads and over at Dreamspinner Press.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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