Audiobook Review: Coming Back (Belladonna Arms #3) by John Inman

Barney Teegarden knows what it’s like to be alone. He knows what it’s like to have a romantic heart, yet no love in his life to unleash the romance on. With the help of a friend, he acquires a lease in a seedy apartment building perched high on a hill in downtown San Diego. The Belladonna Arms is not only filled with the quirkiest cast of characters imaginable, it is also famous for sprinkling love dust on even the loneliest of the lovelorn.

At the Arms, Barney finds friendship, acceptance, and an adopted family that lightens his lonely life. Hell, he even finds a cat. But still true love eludes him.

When his drag queen landlord, Arthur, takes it into his head to rescue a homeless former tenant, he enlists Barney’s help. It is Barney who shows this lost soul how to trust again—and in return Barney discovers love for the first time in his life.

It’s funny how even the hardest battles can be fought and won with laughter, hugs, friends, plus a little faith in the goodness of others. All it takes to begin the healing is the simple act of coming back.

Narrator: Shawn Hertel
Listening Length: 5 hrs and 53 mins

I have a serious soft spot in my heart for the Belladonna Arms series by John Inman. Every time I read a new one I’m all, “ooooooh, this one’s my favorite” and then the next one comes and I do the same thing. So, the audiobooks are a real treat to revisit, because each one gets a chance to be my favorite again! Total book logic that makes sense. Don’t question it, just roll with it.

The series is set in my hometown of San Diego which is an added bonus since I can picture every locale the author describes and he describes San Diego very well. Belladonna Arms feels like home when you get invited in, as terrible as it sounds aesthetically, the Arms are home to those who need the love pollen, and the Arms delivers.

While I may be fickle with my favoriting, in all honesty, Coming Back is probably my favorite of the Belladonna Arms series. The characters are extra deserving of the pollen, and the arc spans from books one through three, heavier on the one and three.

Barney is an unassuming everyman, he’s relatable and kind and I couldn’t help but want the best for him from the moment he moved in. He and Arthur, the resident owner/landlord/drag queen extraordinaire, bond from the moment they meet and it’s a perfect friendship for what Arthur ends up planning to bring an original member of the Arms back to the fold.

Arthur has shenanigans planned, he always seems to, and he’s his altruistic self wrapped in yards of organza and feathered boas gets Barney in on his plans. Coming Back is more than just a meet-cute and romance, it’s redemption and second chances and it has a depth beyond rom-com that I appreciated on every level.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, because spoilers and all (even though you can read every other review by now and figure out who comes back home), suffice it to say, Coming Back is everything you want in a redemption, second chance, first romance story. There’s laughs, a little bit of angst and lots of love. Coming Back delivers a John Inman trait that I love. He doesn’t wait until the very end to bring his MC’s together and that is one of the things that makes him a go-to/auto-buy author for me. I get to see the MC’s as individuals and as a couple, I get to get lots of time with them together as they grow and it makes me buy into an HEA easily.

The audiobooks from the Belladonna Arms series have different narrators for each story. I actually love that they’re all different, it gives each story its own voice, both literally and figuratively. Each one has been a great fit and Coming Back is right in line with the first two. This is the first time I’ve listened to Shawn Hertel narrate and he has Barney down perfectly. And his Arthur is spot in. I liked his tone very much, he was just enough without being too much all the way through.

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

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