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After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.
Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.
Not outright, at least.
The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.
** This review might be spoiler-y in nature due to the sexuality of one of the characters **
First, for those of you who know the Belleau/Haimowitz partnership from their dark Flesh Cartel series and think it is not for you; rest assured that The Burnt Toast B&B is NOTHING like those books. In fact, this book is lovely and heartfelt while touching a quite important element of a transgender character without being pretentious or preachy. The result is an engaging romance that made me read it all through the night.
The winning element for me is how the authors handled the transgender topic. Ginsberg is a transgender character; he had his operation and all. But when it came to the core of the romance, this was never a big deal. There might have been one or two moments where Derrick wonders about the issue – like during their sex scene, in which he remembers that Ginsberg doesn’t have a prostate and he worries if he is “fucking the right hole”, but Ginsberg in his wonderful way reminds him …
“And my anatomy may be different, but there’s plenty of parts in there for a nice big cock to rub up against and get me excited, you feel me?”
Then everything is good and tender and sweet (besides Ginsberg says that he has an advantage of being able to have ‘multiple orgasms’ *laugh*). It is like the authors are saying, yes, Ginsberg is trans*, so what? It’s just one part of the romance but it is not the big picture. It is never overwhelming and for me as a reader, that is something to be admired and applaused.
The core of this romance is more about opposite attracting while challenging the perception of gender stereotyping including in the work-field. See in terms of physique, Derrick might be bigger, more masculine, a lumberjack. Derrick works in the B&B owned by his late parents and this has become an issue for him for almost all his life because his childhood friends used to mock him (Playing maid with mommy again, Dickie?). Because of that, Derrick doesn’t want to run the B&B.
Then, Ginsberg comes to the B&B, looking for a cheap place to live after having an accident on the Wolf Landing’s set. Here’s a man, less masculine in physique, enjoys cooking and happily wearing a pink frilly apron, but at the same time Ginsberg is a stuntman – an occupation that demands a lot of physical work. Ginsberg is GOOD at it and there is nothing ‘feminine’ about being punched or hit by car as a job description.
I loved how this contradiction was played out in the book. We even had another wonderful secondary character, Derrick’s ex, Jim, who crunches numbers by day and bakes pastries at night. All of this combined makes a very charming romance. I loved how the relationship unfolds – I loved how Derrick and Ginsberg connected, bantered, slowly becoming friends, then lovers. In the whole while, Ginsberg tries to help Derrick with the B&B as well.
To top it all off, we have the grand gesture of romance – you know, the kind of thing you find in romantic comedy movies, the one that requires Hugh Grant to tell Andie McDowell how he feels under the rain in “Four Weddings & A Funeral” or Billy Crystal running to apologize to Meg Ryan on New Year’s Eve in “When Harry Met Sally”. Derrick – in one of his stupid moves – ends up hurting Ginsberg and they have a huge fight. But then Derrick admits his mistakes and does his grand gesture to win his man. And how I loved every single second of reading that part …
And of course Derrick has to say this line near the end…
“Please stay with me,” Derrick said, because he wanted to make it official. “Here. For as long as you can. And when you have to leave, come home to me too?”
Heart. Melted. Sigh.
I seriously cannot think of any single thing to complain about. It is definitely my favorite from the Bluewater Bay universe. This book is PERFECT for me, the kind of romance that I enjoy to read; the kind of romance that I appreciate. For that, I can only give it my highest rating.
Title: The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay, #5)
Author: Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: January 12th, 2015
Purchase Links: Riptide Publishing