Bread, Salt, & Wine (Tarnished Souls #4) by Dev Bentham (5 Stars)

Recovering and moving on from one’s past isn’t always easy, but the rewards are certainly worth it.

As a young child, George Zajac was seriously abused by his father for leaning toward being gay. He suffered through a marriage for 10 years, trying not to accept his true feelings while also trying to avoid his father’s displeasure. After finally getting divorced and moving across the country to start over, he’s hoping to form a hidden friends-with-benefits relationship with his co-worker, Kenny Marks. Kenny is happy to oblige since he has a crush on George, but how long is Kenny willing to live on the sidelines?

The entire story is told from George’s point of view who is still truly suffering from his earlier abuse. George is a very strong and successful individual, and yet there is also a very sad and lonely aspect to his life. Kenny is such a wonderful character who always seemed to find the best in a situation. The two of them worked together in catering, but for Kenny it was just something to pay the bills while he’s working on his screenplays. I loved the interactions between these two, and since they worked together, there was plenty of it. I also liked how Kenny’s writing was brought into the story. There were several steamy scenes that helped to move the plot forward, especially since these guys enjoyed pillow talk. The story took place over several years, which made it much more believable.

Kenny was always extremely supportive with all of George’s issues, but he also continued to encourage George to seek assistance. I was very glad that his recovery was taken seriously, and that George sought professional help. This was not a “love cures all” type of problem. I also thought it was great that this wasn’t a depressing story given the earlier abuse. The author made sure you understood George’s behavior without making it overwhelm the story. I was flying through the pages, anxious to see how everything would be resolved, and yet dreading to see it end.

Although this was my first read by this author, it certainly won’t be the last. I didn’t feel lost even though I hadn’t read the first 3 stories in the series. I really enjoyed this realistic and riveting story, and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy a tender, slow building relationship with love winning in the end.

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Originally reviewed for The Romance Reviews. Complimentary copy provided by author/publisher for an honest review.

BLURB

Some wounds never heal. George Zajac grew up in a religious family with a father who beat “the swish” out of him. Now he’s a troubled man. At thirty-eight he moves across the country to start a new life in Los Angeles, working as the catering chef for a prestigious French Restaurant.

Kenny Marks, a writer who’s currently waiting tables, is everything George cannot be–flamboyant, proud and sexually confident. Enthralled by Kenny, and against his own better judgment, George agrees to a date. Sparks fly. The sex is better than good. But even after the two get close, George remains crippled by humiliating sexual hang-ups. Still haunted by his childhood, he lingers in the closet and can’t commit to a relationship with Kenny.

Love is the great healer, but is it enough? George’s emotional scars could drive Kenny away, and with him, George’s last chance at happiness.

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