Book: Tender With A Twist
Series: Rainbow Cove #2
Publication date: October 22, 2017
Length: 264 pages
Reviewed by Erin
One kinky wood carver. One younger chef looking to try new things. A series of lessons that bring both men more than they bargained for…
Curtis Hunt has made a name for himself as a chainsaw wood carver, winning national competitions and operating a small business in Rainbow Cove, Oregon. As winter whittles away his tourist traffic, his goal is just to survive the season and try to not get lost in grief for his dead lover. It’s been two years, but he’s sure he’ll never be over the love of a lifetime. However, his body has a certain restlessness that he doesn’t quite know how to calm.
Logan Rosner knows a thing or two about restlessness. It’s what drove him to Rainbow Cove to be a chef at a bar and grill run by his friends. And it’s what drives him to a single sizzling encounter with the local legendary lumberjack. Both men get far more than they expected and learn that first impressions aren’t always accurate…
But when Logan proposes a series of sexy lessons, Curtis must decide how much he’s willing to risk. He knows he can’t afford to get attached to Logan’s good cooking, his easy smiles, or his caretaking, but he keeps going back for more, even as deeper emotions become involved. Soon, Curtis must decide whether to risk his heart again or risk losing Logan for good.
Tender with a Twist is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, featuring a second chance at love, opposites attract, loads of sexy times with mild BDSM elements, and one emotionally-charged, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.
Here's a thing you might or might not know about me. I'm a beard girl ... as in I really love a man with a beard. My husband had one--it was red and full and fit him so perfectly that I had a hard time remembering what he looked like without one (and may have threatened a time or ten to do drastic things if he EVER even thought of shaving it off!). So with that being said, it isn't really surprising that Annabeth Albert's new book, Tender with a Twist grabbed my attention just by the cover alone. After reading the book, I discovered something else. Want to know what that is? Guys with chainsaws are hot, like crazy hot, and when you add in a few tattoos and leather, well, then, I'm so in. I read the first book in the series and liked it well enough but this one ... I LOVED. A lot. It's sweet and sexy and the age-gap between Curtis and Logan is just the icing on an already super yummy cake.
Curtis Hunt is my favorite kind of character. He's gruff and growly and a bit damaged. He's set in his ways, knows what he likes, and change really is not his thing. After two years he's still mourning the loss of the love of his life and his partner of many years, so Curtis for sure isn't looking for any sort of romantic entanglements. He gets his need for pain and submission met from acquaintances as he can and that's good enough for him. He has his work, his best friend Flint, and his small little gallery to keep him busy and satisfied. Only problem, he can't quite ignore Rainbow Cove's newest chef, Logan Rosner. It would, perhaps, be easier to do if his best friend didn't drag him to the Rainbow Tavern (the bar and grill owned by Logan and two friends) regularly.
Oh man, let's talk about Logan for a second. I LOVED him. So much. Albert has made his character one of my favorites in quite some time. For as much as I loved Curtis, it's Logan that totally made this book for me. Diminutive in stature, but an attitude and a persona that's twice (or more) as big. He's underestimated by everyone around him, from his parents to his best friends to strangers. They take one look at the delicate looking Logan and immediately think fragile when the man has a core of steel and a sense of himself that's just as strong. He's in Rainbow Cove, and away from his well-meaning but completely overbearing parents, to be the man he's always wanted. And that includes exploring his wish to be a Dom, if only he could find someone to submit to him. Enter Curtis. Through a chance demonstration of just how underestimated he is outside of the bar one night, Curtis gets a glimpse of the Dom just waiting to be set loose. And man, does he ever want and need some of that. What begins as a sort of Dom 101 training, the two men enter into a D/s agreement where Curtis will show Logan a thing or two about being a Dom and Logan will give Curtis the pain and submission he desperately craves.
Whatever you do though, don't underestimate (see what I did there?) this book and think it's solely about kink, because you'd be sorely mistaken. It's a part, sure, but really it's the burgeoning intimacy and genuine friendship between Logan and Curtis that is the heart of the book. Logan helps Curtis see that it's okay to move on, even when your heart is broken, and Curtis in turn helps Logan accept and embrace all the parts of himself, even the one's he's been scared to show his friends and family. These two together just worked in all the best ways. Their understanding of one another, their connection, their trust ... it was all such a treat to watch as it grew and grew.
From the small town setting, to the age-gap, to the hurt/comfort theme, to the kink ... Tender with a Twist was just a wonderful combination. Not to mention a gorgeous cover and an apt, perfect title. Do yourself a favor and make sure you take a trip to Rainbow Cove and fall in love with these characters. You won't be sorry.
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