Review: Annabeth Albert – Tender with a Twist (Rainbow Cove #2)

Author: Annabeth Albert
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Self-pub
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary:

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.

Review:

There was nothing about this story that I didn’t like. In fact, I love this author’s work so I knew going in there was a good chance I’d really enjoy this story, but then it exceeded my wildest expectations!

There’s two hot guys, age gap, men over forty, lumberjacks, chefs, BDSM with a younger (and smaller) Dom, an older (and bigger) sub, and kinky, kinky sex. There’s also bike (bicycle) riders and bike (Harley) riders, grief, hurt-comfort, healing, an accident, friendships—old and new, concerned and supportive family members, and did I say love? Yes, love, love, love. I didn’t want to put this down and I certainly didn’t want it to end. My favorite of this author’s books so far—hands down!

Though this can be read as a standalone, its enjoyment is enhanced if one has read book one in the series: Trust with a Chaser. Logan Rosner is a twenty-seven-year-old chef and the principal cook for the new bar-restaurant he and his two friends, Mason and Adam, have recently opened in Rainbow Cove. Struggling to increase their business, especially in this winter season when the tourist trade is off, the men nevertheless move forward with energy and enthusiasm, though they are looking for an additional infusion of capital to help them over the hurdle. When the new lodge their friend Brock was instrumental in bringing to the area finally opens, it will definitely infuse new business to them and in the meantime, the locals are starting to take notice of their menu offerings. This includes Mason’s boyfriend Nash’s best friend, Curtis, a chainsaw wood carver, vegan, and an unfriendly, surly bear of a man.

Something about the big guy just clicks with Logan though, and apparently the feeling is mutual, as against all reason the two enter into a Dom/sub situation, but it’s Logan who gets to exercise his domination of Curtis. And it works. In fact, it works so well, the two can’t get enough of each other and they continue to explore this relationship that’s not a relationship—at least, according to Curtis. Curtis has been a widower for over two years and he is finding it extremely difficult to let go of this grief for Troy, his older, sweet lover and husband. But Curtis is starting to care deeply for Logan, and yet he hesitates to express his love because he truly believes Logan will eventually move on from the area—and from him.

“My strongest wish was for him to get everything he wanted. Needed. Deserved. And that wasn’t me. It would be like trying to shove the sun into a cardboard box—he deserved so much more than what I could offer.”

While Curtis struggles with letting go of his deep grief and loss, Logan is struggling to get free of the smothering love given to him by his parents. They mean well, but are insistent on him returning to Portland where he can pursue a better career, find a good man (their choice is his ex-partner, Sean,) and if he does all this, his dad will invest in the restaurant in Rainbow Cove. They obviously don’t know the real Logan, and it’s finally time for him to show them his strength of character, strong will, and desire for success in his enterprise with his friends.

I have to include one more quote that comes toward the end of the story, when Curtis comes to realize that they both deserve happiness, and he again uses the sun symbolism to describe Logan: “Maybe I didn’t know every step of the journey before us, but I knew he was the sun I wanted to follow on the trek. My sun. My second chance. My everything.”

As I stated, I find it hard to write a review worthy of this story, while trying to keep it spoiler-free, but I must admit that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to any and all lovers of MM romance. If you like any of the tags I’ve included in the second paragraph of the review, don’t hesitate to purchase this one. Be ready to laugh and cry. And be prepared to hide yourself away somewhere so you can devote your time to immersing yourself in the goodness that is this Rainbow Cove journey to romance and fulfillment. Very highly recommended! 5+ stars

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