Title: Renovations 1: Framework
Author: Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
Genre: Contemporary M/M/ Interracial
Length: Novel (222 pages Print)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When Toby Archer’s marriage falls apart, he takes up flipping houses to fill some of the void left in his life. The first time that contractor Ven Parrish works for him, Toby notices the fact that Ven is gorgeous, but what really catches Toby’s attention is Ven’s work ethic. Toby isn’t going to pass up the chance to hire Ven again; it’s just good business sense.
The more time they spend together, the harder it is to deny their attraction to each other. Toby is a lawyer with an upper class lifestyle, and Ven is a working man from a family still scraping by. What they have in common, especially a commitment to family, does more to keep them apart than bring them together. Still, Toby and Ven have sense enough to know when something is worth the work, and neither is afraid to get hot and dirty to get the job done, especially when the finished product might be a happy ending for everyone.
Toby is a lawyer who spends his extra money and time flipping houses. He is divorced and seems to have a pretty good relationship with his ex and two young daughters. He met Ven, a contractor, when he bought one of the “distressed” properties he usually fixes up with the help of a professional then sells for a profit. He and Ven hit it off immediately and initially had a purely business relationship, even though they both wanted to move it into something more. Very soon after, they end up in bed and have pretty scorching sex which sets the tone for the rest of the book.
The plot is very good – here are these two dissimilar men working in a field which is very complex and it’s apparent that the authors either are very knowledgeable about the construction industry or they received some expert advice, because there is a fair amount of technical detail in the book about the work involved in demolishing and rebuilding a house. Ven starts out working for Toby and they found it difficult to keep their personal and business relationships separate without one overlapping and affecting the other. As they continued their business association Toby became more and more impressed with Ven’s professionalism and the way he managed the different projects he was running simultaneously, and gradually he started falling in love with him. Although at first they spent a considerable amount of time apart because of other commitments, whenever they were together they managed to hit the bed with regularity.
The characters were both three dimensional and we learn a fair amount about Toby’s background. There was a very nice episode when his girls came to visit for Halloween and Ven gets to meet them, and I believe in the next book the girls will have a much bigger role in the relationship. Ven’s parents were very caring and loving to the brothers and the writers did an excellent job on his mother’s character.
What did I like most about this story? The characterizations and the family dynamics, especially the parts where Ven was so protective of his mentally challenged 30 year old brother. I thought the authors did a great job on Cake (Ven’s brother) by not making him a stereotype, and giving him a real job and independence and a sweet personality.
What didn’t I like about the book? A few things. I thought there was probably too much sex which became a bit repetitious after a while, (it seemed that the guys were in bed for at least half of the book) at the expense of the story. Perhaps it just appeared that way to me because I read the first 3 books in this series all at once plus another story, Counting Blessings, which is only available with the print book, all of which focused on the sexual aspect of the guys’ relationship. However, if you like a lot of hot man sex in your M/M books you will love Renovations and probably wonder why I mentioned its overabundance.:) I also thought there might have been a little more about Ven’s background in the book, and how the 10 year age difference or the interracial aspect of the relationship affected the couple. While there was some information maybe it could have been expanded to give the reader more of a sense of the kind of man Ven was, before he met Tobias.
A very minor point – Toby had this little quirk of tying off the used condoms which the gay men I talk to say they don’t do. There was also a poll on this topic on the blog a few months ago that confirmed only a few straight British men do this.:) g However, this is a very small criticism in a book that was otherwise well written.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a complex relationship in terms of the family dynamics and the stressful effects of mixing business, family and personal matters and I look forward to reading about the new adventures of Toby and Ven. Renovations 1: Framework is a story about life, family, making choices and moving on. I think you will enjoy Ven’s entire family and especially Ven and Toby as they try to work out the challenges they face in terms of their unequal financial partnership and complex family lives.
Renovations I: Framework includes the following –