Tender with a Twist, by Annabeth Albert
Series: Rainbow Cove, Book 2
Release Date: October 2, 2017
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.
Let’s be real, the only thing you need to know about Tender with a Twist is that it stars an honest to goodness lumberjack. Not just a lumbersexual, but an actual guy – Curtis – who was a lumberjack by trade and now carves wooden sculptures for a living. So yes, in case you were wondering, the sweaty, shirtless chainsaw porn is real, people.
If somehow that little tidbit weren’t enough to convince you to pick up this book, I guess another thing you might want to know is that it strikes a perfect balance between kinky and tender. Curtis and Logan’s attempts at keeping their kink sessions strictly business quickly went up in flames despite Curtis’ best efforts. I was really into them as individuals but together, there was no denying they were electric and so good for each other.
I had included the “Mourning/Grieving” tag for this book but I thought Curtis was not so much actively in mourning as he was resigned. Resigned to a life with little to no creature comforts or “luxuries” as he liked to put it. Troy had been his love, the one shining beacon in his unlucky existence and Curtis’ passion for life had died along with him.
I loved the way Logan, the supposedly eager young pup took on the prickly older guy, held his own and eventually won him over. I hated how pretty much every single person in Logan’s life underestimated him, and especially his parents for babying him. He was so determined to be true to himself and not once during the entire book did he waver from his resolution.
In addition to the internal struggles they each had to contend with, there were also faced with external obstacles to their happiness in the form of well-intentioned but meddlesome parental figures. While I hated everyone for interfering with their lives and telling them what’s supposedly good for them, it lent an air of reality to their story – most relationships can’t exist in a bubble, even ones on the downlow. I really appreciated that there were a lot of tough questions and soul searching – and no rush to forgiveness – before Curtis and Logan came together at the end.
It should be noted that the ARC I received was riddled with errors but I’m going to assume these will get fix in final edits. Otherwise, the story flowed well with some truly delightful writing that is quite possibly the author’s best work to date. Annabeth Albert has always had a knack for emotional intensity and powerful storytelling, but this time there was a subtle but nevertheless marked flair to her writing that I really relished. I could feel how strongly she connected to Curtis and Logan, and I in turn couldn’t help but fall in love with them as well. I strongly recommend Tender with a Twist, along with the previous book in the series, Trust with a Chaser.
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.