Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: Don’t Twunk With My Heart
SERIES: Loving You #2
AUTHOR: Renae Kaye
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 Pages
RELEASE DATE: August 26, 2016
Kee Smith isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows who he used to be—the ignored gay son who chose a blue-collar job just because no one expected it, the submissive bottom who enjoyed large, masculine jocks who put him in his place, the sleek, fashionable twink who partied all night. But after his ex-boyfriend hit Kee and called him names, Kee retired from the social scene.
Back after a year’s hiatus, Kee still doesn’t know where he fits. His friends say he’s a twunk—a twink who put on muscle and turned into a hunk—but Kee is searching for somewhere to belong. Instead of going back to his usual type, Kee hooks up with twink Tate Stevens—a fashion-industry professional who works the image hard. It proves to be the best decision he’s ever made, and not just because he’s starting to regain his sexual confidence.
With Tate, Kee can open up about his fears and confusion without ridicule. Tate has his own fears about putting on weight and getting old. It will take work to make a relationship of opposites succeed, but they begin to realize the compromises will be worth it if they can be together.
I purposely saved this book for when I wasn’t in the best of moods, because I knew that any book featuring Jay (Loving You #1) was going to cheer me up like nothing else could. And I was totally right in that assumption. But it wasn’t just the reappearance of an old favourite that got me grinning, because Kee and Tate make a perfect addition to this series. Just as with the first book, the tone of this story is light on the angst and heavy on the happy feels. This is Ms. Kaye writing as she does best, combining witty, endearing characters with conflict that can make you reconsider how you see things.
The story is presented through the first person musings of Kee Smith. Once upon a time, Kee was a fabulous twink who lived to play the submissive bottom boy for big, scary men. He found that being pushed about (within limits) gave him a thrill, until the night one of those big, scary men went way too far and Kee ended up in hospital. A year later and Kee has almost changed beyond recognition. Yes, he’s no longer the sleek little twink he once was, but it’s more about how he’s changed on the inside. The club scene no longer holds much interest, he’s no longer obsessed with how others see him, and he’s discovered the joy of carbs. Unfortunately, his attraction to beefed up men hasn’t dissipated and on his first venture back into a club he spots a particularly hot specimen. But so do two other twinkish men. And you know how that goes, right!? It’s all fun and games until someone starts a dance off. This may be my favourite “first meeting” between main characters ever. Despite neither man being what the other usually goes for, the dance off focuses their attention on each other, and that, my friends, was that.
I tend to find reviewing books by this author difficult, because there’s always so many different things I could talk about. Renae Kaye creates complex characters, without making them obscenely angsty. Characters whom others see as weak, or lesser, but they prove that they are strong. None of them are perfect, and I love that these men didn’t need to overcome their fears to demonstrate that strength, they just learned to deal with their limitations.
What I enjoyed most about this story, though, was the message that labels don’t have to be a negative. So many books will preach, “I don’t need a label, I’m just me” – which is a totally valid way for a lot of people to see things. But some people like labels. I like labels, and I identified with both of these men so freakin much!! Labels are a way for those (like me) who are socially anxious to a painful degree to know how we’re expected to behave. I like to know how I’m expected to act, it calms my nerves some what. And Kee and Tate were the same. They had their labels. They loved rocking their labels, and when those labels didn’t fit them anymore they handle it in different ways. I truly believed their struggles.
It’s not necessary that you’ve read the first book in this series, but considering it was released over two years ago and I still see people recommending it all over facebook, you should really check it out. For those of you that have read Loving Jay, and loved Jay (as the title suggests), then you will squee your twink-lovin’ heart out over the bonus chapter in the back of this book.
The ending of this story sets up the third book in the series perfectly. I know I can’t wait.