Don’t Twunk With My Heart, by Renae Kaye
Series: Loving You, Book 2
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 26, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Kee Smith isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows who he used to be—the ignored gay son who chose a blue-collar job just because no one expected it, the submissive bottom who enjoyed large, masculine jocks who put him in his place, the sleek, fashionable twink who partied all night. But after his ex-boyfriend hit Kee and called him names, Kee retired from the social scene.
Back after a year’s hiatus, Kee still doesn’t know where he fits. His friends say he’s a twunk—a twink who put on muscle and turned into a hunk—but Kee is searching for somewhere to belong. Instead of going back to his usual type, Kee hooks up with twink Tate Stevens—a fashion-industry professional who works the image hard. It proves to be the best decision he’s ever made, and not just because he’s starting to regain his sexual confidence.
With Tate, Kee can open up about his fears and confusion without ridicule. Tate has his own fears about putting on weight and getting old. It will take work to make a relationship of opposites succeed, but they begin to realize the compromises will be worth it if they can be together.
Body Image Issues
If you couldn’t already tell from that ridiculously sassy title, Don’t Twunk With My Heart is a fun read if you’re in need of some lighthearted romance. Kee and Tate make a cute couple, and I enjoyed cozying up to their story for some love and laughs.
I love a good “opposites attract” story, and this one definitely fit the bill. Despite Kee’s early insistence that Tate wasn’t his usual type, their move from one-night stand to going steady was both hot and drama-free, which suited me perfectly. Smooth sailing and clear skies didn’t always mean the two MCs weren’t without their personal demons, however.
Despite having pried himself out of seclusion, Kee is still traumatized by the beating he suffered at the hands of his ex. Even though the book didn’t delve too deeply into the heavy stuff, I thought it was important that the author addressed the kind of abuse Kee experienced. Whether it happened one time or a hundred, at the hands of a trusted partner or a stranger, and whether or not it happened during kinkier play, abuse is still abuse, and I appreciated that the trauma was reflected in Kee’s character and the overall story.
Tate on the other hand had deep-seated body image issues that stemmed from his anxiety over being an aging twink, his love of couture and his desperate need to “look the part” as a successful fashion PR guru. Bulimia was mentioned but never confirmed, and basically Tate barely ate for most of the book – until he eventually did. While I do think being in a healthy, supportive relationship can do wonders in improving one’s body image, I did think Tate’s issues were overcome rather easily (and perhaps not too realistically).
I think my favorite part about this book was Kee’s big group of friends. Yes, they were fun and hilarious, but they were also so much more than just some rowdy hangout buddies. They welcomed Kee back with open arms after his year-long absence and featured prominently throughout the book as a loyal and solid support network.
I’m new to Renae Kaye’s work, and except for a few awkward spots where I felt she was over-explaining things, I quite enjoyed her writing. I also loved that the book was set in Perth, Australia, which was a nice change from a lot of the US- and UK-centric books in the market. I am definitely planning on picking up Loving Jay, the first book in this series, and I’m already looking forward to the next installment, thanks to the sneak peek that came with this release.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything. Which is why it’s a pity laughter is sometimes scarce on the ground.
You can contact her at renaekaye AT iinet DOT net.au.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.