Title: Tender with a Twist (Rainbow Cove #2)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Release Date: October 2, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 264
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 4.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
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.
We meet Curtis, dour tattooed chainsaw carver (who occasionally carves shirtless … in the winter), in the first Rainbow Cove book Trust with a Chaser, as well as Logan, one of the trifecta of young owners of bar/restaurant owners trying to revitalize the town of Rainbow Cove as an LGBTQ destination. This is their story, and it is straight up glorious, sexy, heart wrenching, kinky, sexy … and did I mention sexy?
Curtis is immersed in grief for his long-time lover Troy, who passed two years prior. He’s moved from their cabin into a renovated retro gas station, which is also his place of business. Curtis’ way of surviving is to deny himself the pleasures of good food, good friends, and especially love. The product of a hardscrabble childhood, Curtis’ mantra is:
“Can’t go getting dependent. Soft. I don’t want to start needing something only to have it ripped away.”
Logan is the only child of fairly well-to-do overprotective parents (emphasis on over) and while he looks like a baby-faced kid, he’s 27 and ready to embrace his inner Dom. Logan, the creator of food that nourishes the body and soul, wants to take care of Curtis:
“… my heart broke every time I thought of his childhood self, scared to have a favorite cereal. I wanted to shower him with the tastiest food, make sure he always had an abundance of whatever it was he wanted most, the secret desires he hadn’t shared yet.”
And when these two men connect, under the guise of Dom lessons for Logan and kink to settle the restless soul of pain slut Curtis, the chemistry is intense and incredibly sexually charged. What Curtis and Logan share isn’t straight-up BDSM but rather a necessary part of each personality, something that draws them together in perfect synchronicity. And Annabeth Albert hits it out of the park in unfolding their relationship as it slowly moves from friends with benefits to much, much more.
Annabeth Albert also does a stellar job of showing us Curtis’ grief and how it controls his life, how it keeps him sheltered in a cocoon of loneliness and hurt, and how he holds close the belief that he’s had his once-in-a-lifetime love and you don’t get that twice. Until Logan makes him realize:
Except maybe some people do. It had been so long since I’d felt anything resembling hope that I didn’t recognize the trembling in my gut at first. What if people did get a second chance and I was about to miss mine?
I could have done without Logan’s irritating helicopter parents, but the heart of this story was so beautifully done that this was a small niggle in the larger picture. I loved this story and give it 5 stars and a Recommended Read. Can’t wait for the next book in the Rainbow Cove series!