Author: Anne Tenino
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Sequel to “Helping Hand”
Received from Publisher as uncorrected proof
Blurb: Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her man of honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the best man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.
The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.
When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.
Review: If you haven’t read the prequel or short “Helping Hand,” that’s before Wedding Favors, and it totally sets up this book so you do need to read it first. I could not wait to get Lucas and Gabe’s story after reading it. If you read it you know what I’m talking about. If not, feel lucky there is no wait time. Patience really isn’t my thing. Especially after the way the short ends. So, yeah. I was a little bit excited to get this book.
The latest installment brings Lucas back to Bluewater Bay to attend his best friends wedding. And surprise! She’s marrying his brother. He’s done his best to avoid the town for years now. Growing up Lucas couldn’t wait to escape the simple small minded logging town for bigger and better things. He had no problem leaving anything in that town behind. Now he’s a somewhat successful artist who recently broke up with is ex and is kind of in limbo on moving on from that part of his life.
Enter Gabe the lumberjack from Lucas’s teenage wet dreams and the first man to make him feel heartache. He’s also his brother’s best friend and the Best Man. Meaning they’ll be spending a lot of time together in the upcoming weeks since Lucas is the Man of Honor. Gabe and Lucas have some history. They each see how things went down between them all those years ago differently. Which causes some tension at first but Gabe sees this as his last chance with Lucas and he’s determined to make it happen if only Lucas will give him the opening Gabe needs to pursue whatever it is between them.
I really liked this book. It’s funny and the sex is super hot. There was a little shaming kink, a little bit of D/s, and then of course the funk kink. I can totally get behind the first two and have found those kinks sexy in books before. However, I am not usually a fan of the funk kink. You know…manly smells on various parts of the body. BUT in this book I totally got it. The way Lucas experiences and enjoys sex with Gabe to the fullest was just undeniably sensuous. There were so many emotions wrapped up in the guys history together. What they want to happen but are afraid to want or admit it. This results in this yearning that made them as a couple so intense for me. And then somehow at the same time the sex was just fun. Giving in and doing whatever you want or feels good. It was just easy for them to be together physically. Joyous.
Most of their problems once they finally hooked up were the emotions neither man is ready to face. Gabe knows he hasn’t been able to get Lucas out of his head for 12 years but he doesn’t consider it love. He either doesn’t know what he’s been feeling all this time or doesn’t acknowledge it for what it really is. Maybe because he never expects to get Lucas for himself. Lucas got the hell out of town as fast as he could. Gabe adopts the teenage Lucas’s idea that he’s too big for the very simple life Gabe needs to live. Gabe is a tree farmer with aspirations to do more or whatever is needed to keep the farm afloat. But the farm is a stationary thing and means everything to Gabe. Lucas moved to LA and lived the life he thought he wanted but it wasn’t as fulfilling as he’d hoped. He’s surprised at what he finds when he gets back to Bluewater and how his teenage perspective may not have been totally correct. Lucas doesn’t pine away for Gabe but he is a bit obsessed with his antipathy for Gabe. Especially given how much he’s still attracted to the guy.
Thankfully these two guys have some great friends and family to push them together. A little meddling was all it took to get the guys to spend some time together long enough to give into their obvious chemistry. The secondary characters were a lot of fun and really added to the story. Zach and Aubrey’s relationship was so sweet to read about because they were so obviously in love.
I absolutely recommend this book. There’s tons of humor which I’ve come to expect from this author. I adored the characters. Gabe and Lucas were a super sexy mess of emotions just waiting to spill over into a happy ending. The sex scenes were so damn good. I’ve been skimming way too many of them lately so I really appreciate when an author can give me fun, intimate and intense sex that also made their connection stronger. There was really only one cameo and she was a minor character in another book so I think this one can be read as a stand alone with Helping Hands as a prequel. I did appreciate some of the mentions of things from previous books but don’t feel anybody picking up this book will be missing out on anything. I’m a little sad this one is over. It was a really good book.
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Catalyzed by her discovery of LGBTQ romance, Anne Tenino left the lucrative fields of art history, non-profit fundraising, and domestic engineering to follow her dream of become a starving romance author. For good or ill, her snarky, silly, quasi-British sense of humor came along for the ride.
Anne applies her particular blend of romance, comedy and gay protagonists to contemporary, scifi and paranormal tales. Her works have won awards, she’s been featured in RT Book Reviews, and has achieved bestseller status on Amazon’s gay romance list.
Born and raised in Oregon, Anne lives in Portland with her husband and two kids, who have all taken a sacred oath to never read her books. She can usually be found at her computer, procrastinating.
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