It has been a year since Kee Smith has dated or been out with his friends. After ending a bad relationship with an abusive boyfriend, he pretty much retreated into himself and focused on work and getting over the emotional trauma. But Kee has decided it is finally time to return to socializing and seeing his friends, and even to find someone to hook up with. In the year he has been out of the scene, Kee let himself stop focusing on his appearance and his weight and having the perfect twink body, and he has grown strong and solid from his job as a welder (making him, as his friend Jamie calls it, a “twunk,” aka a hunky former twink).
Kee’s usual type is big and brawny, but when he spots a gorgeous twink dancing at the club, Kee is totally drawn to the man and they have a hot night together. Tate Stevens is gorgeous and fashionable and Kee is surprisingly attracted to him, despite going against type. The two end up taking their night together and growing it into more. Kee starts to see his friends more and reconnect with those people he let go over the past year. And Tate and Kee start developing a wonderful relationship. There are some stumbles for them. Kee still isn’t emotionally over Matt’s abuse and fears still haunt him. And Tate has his issues about gaining weight and growing older. But despite their different backgrounds, the two men are quite compatible and are finding that their chance hookup might just be leading to love.
Don’t Twunk My Heart is the second book in Renae Kaye’s Loving You series, following Loving Jay. It connects to the first book as Kee and Jamie (or Jay as his boyfriend Liam calls him) are good friends and Jay is one of the people Kee reconnects with when he comes back into the social scene. So let me start by saying this story is a bit atypical for a book with new MCs in that it features Jay and Liam very prominently. They play a major role in the story as friends to Kee, and ultimately Tate, and at times they kind of steal the show (Jay has a tendency to do that). There isn’t a lot of conflict in the storyline between Tate and Kee, mostly day to day falling for each other, so I think that makes their relationship not quite as big a focus already, but then there are so many scenes where Jay and Liam play a big role, sometimes it seemed like Tate is an afterthought. There was actually a scene where the guys are all watching a sports match together where they mention Tate in passing and I had forgotten he was even there. The epilogue of this story is even from Jay’s POV and is all about him and Liam and their future and not at all about Tate and Kee. So it was kind of a strange focus that I think took away somewhat from the attention on our MC couple here.
I’ll admit, it didn’t help that at times I found Jay quite annoying. Which is weird, because I loved Loving Jay and didn’t find him irritating there. Maybe it is because there we are seeing him through Liam’s eyes, and Liam is clearly besotted. But here Jay is often loud, obnoxiously over-the-top, and with seemingly no filter. Yes, he is also sweet and kind and the best of friends. I did enjoy reconnecting with him and Liam. But it was a lot to take at times. Especially because from Kee’s POV, Jay often needs to be “managed” by the more down to earth Liam and at times it make me a bit cringey to see Kee end around Jay to have Liam “deal” with him. So it was just a little awkward there and like I said, shifted a lot of focus from our main guys. (FWIW, I think you could still read this one without having read Loving Jay as you don’t really need their background to make this one work.)
What time we did have with Kee and Tate I really enjoyed. The guys are super hot together and very sweet. They fall for one another almost from the start and I liked them together and found their connection solid. Like I said, there isn’t a lot of conflict here to hinge the story on. I wish things had been explored more as some issues were brought up, but nothing is really delved into. The first area is Kee’s anxiety and fears after Matt’s violence. It takes some time over the course of the story for him to regain his confidence, and we definitely see that by the end he has improved. But I did wish for a little more understanding about what finally helped him past the issue. We also see that Tate has some issues with eating. His job focuses on fashion and his appearance is a key element of that and so he barely eats to keep himself thin. I really wanted this to be explored more as we see by the end he is a bit better, but again, I wanted more focus on why. I also found it strange that Kee seems to be so clueless as to why Tate is so weight obsessed since he was the same way until the year before. He acts shocked that Tate eats so little, that he worries about calories, that he is obsessed with being thin, etc. But it is also clear Kee was just that same way before dropping out of the social scene, so why is this so strange and hard to understand? I just wasn’t really clear on that and wish more focus had been given to that part of the story as it just seems to be tied up in passing.
Loving Jay came out over two years ago, so there has been a bit of a break in the series, but it now looks like Kaye is continuing on with more books about the friends (and we get an excerpt from the next book at the end of this one). So I am really excited to see where things go, as we spend a lot of time getting to know these other guys in this book and I like the relationships and connections between them. So I am definitely eager for more in the series.
So overall I did enjoy this one and really liked Kee and Tate together. I liked seeing Kee come back out of his shell and find happiness again and think he and Tate make a great match. I do think so much focus on Liam and Jay did pull away somewhat from our MCs, which made their story less prominent. But I am enjoying this series and really looking forward to more.
Cover Review: I am kind of mixed on this cover. I love that the font and the style match nicely with Loving Jay, since it ties the series together. But these cover models so don’t work for me. Kee is supposed to be a big, strong welder and Tate is slim, twinky, and super fashionable. Neither of these guys fit at all with how they are described, and honestly I could only guess who was who based on their hair color.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.