Review: Joanna Chambers – Tribute Act (Porthkennack #8)

Author: Joanna Chambers
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary:

Nathan Bridges hadn’t intended to settle down in his home town of Porthkennack—he just ended up staying after saving the family business from ruin. The truth is, Nathan can’t stop himself from stepping in when problems arise. He’s a fixer, the man everyone turns to. But even fixers can’t solve everything.

When Nathan’s sister needs an organ transplant, it’s his stepbrother, Mack, who the family turns to as Rosie’s only potential living donor. Nathan’s curiosity about the stepbrother he’s never met turns to shock when he realises that Mack is his latest—and hottest ever—one-night stand.

Nathan and Mack agree to forget their single night together, but that’s easier said than done. When Mack moves in to Nathan’s place to recuperate after surgery, it’s not just the sexual tension between them that keeps growing. Against all the odds, and despite Mack’s wariness of intimacy, the two men grow close enough that Nathan begins to wonder what it would take to mend the rift that’s kept Mack and his father estranged for over a decade . . . and whether Mack might consider staying with Nathan in Porthkennack for good.

Review:

This was a poignantly beautiful love story—the love of a man for his family and the slow build of a solid relationship with another man who happens to be his perfect complement. A word of caution, however: the MCs are stepbrothers. That being said, there’s no hint of incestuous behavior. Neither man knew the other until the story opens when both are adults, and during their first hookup, they didn’t even know the relationship existed. So for those who might be squeamish after reading the blurb, I can only say that everything is handled as if they were simply two young men who meet and get to know one another before beginning a relationship.

After their first hookup, this romance becomes a very slow burn—slow to build the sexual chemistry into a relationship. Devon, who Nathan calls Mack, is in town because a letter his father wrote quite a while ago finally reached him as he traveled around the UK, and though he’s not spoken to his father since he was fifteen, he refuses to desert the little sister he’s never met. She needs a liver transplant and Devon may be able to donate so he shows up to help and stays for several months of recuperation afterward. In the meantime, he and Nathan are getting to know each other better, but they don’t repeat their initial sexual attraction. Nathan is looking for long-term and Mack has clearly stated, on multiple occasions, that he’s not staying around.

Much of what occurs in the story highlights Nathan’s personality—he’s a fixer, always stepping in to help others, always taking charge. He left his job in London to come home to bail out the family business when his mother and stepfather got into so much debt it looked like they’d go bankrupt. Nathan bailed them out with his own money and continues to do so in many ways as the story proceeds. But who helps Nathan? No one, because he’s the one they all rely on, and it’s not until Devon points it out that anyone, including Nathan, acknowledges that he deserves thanks, recognition, and support.

The relationship between Devon and his father, destroyed many years ago at the funeral of Devon’s mother, and the relationship between Nathan and his immediate family undergo multiple changes throughout the story as crises are resolved and new issues arise. But through it all, the seed of a romance between Mack and Nathan was planted, and it was a pleasure to be present for the clever way the author told the story and wove the romance into something strong that would support the two young men and hopefully survive the test of time.

I highly recommend this book. It can easily be read as a standalone since other characters from the Porthkennack series are not involved in this one. It’s an interesting story with a sweet, slow-burn romance and a very satisfying HEA.

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