Bradford “Tully” Tolliver is a corporate attorney with a beautiful penthouse apartment in Portland that has a spare bedroom. This is important because his good friend Carrie has asked a huge favor: for Tully to allow her cousin Sage to crash in his place for a year in exchange for delicious homecooked meals and light housekeeping. Sage Filling, yes his parents were fond of puns, is a chef through-and-through, only he doesn’t have the culinary degree. He ran his family restaurant for more than ten years back in rural Hair Shaker, Oregon. But once his father took ill and the medical bills rolled in, Sage knew he needed to come to the big city to earn more money and support his family.
Tully agrees to a two-week trial period. Meeting sexy bear Sage makes this agreement a walking temptation, and once Tully gets a taste of Sage’s food? Yep, he’s a goner. However, Tully believes Sage to be staunchly hetero–the man has a teenaged daughter—and he’s stoically pining away. Which is unexpected because there is a very eligible, very wealthy bachelor who is vying for Tully’s affection. The fact that the man is a client doesn’t seem to quell his inappropriate ardor.
I liked how this worked out. Tully set very professional boundaries and it took a bit, but the guy finally understood he wasn’t the perfect partner to Tully. Tully never anticipated finding a soulmate, but the more time he spends with Sage, and consuming his culinary creations, the more Tully knows he’s can’t live without his small-town man. It’s especially gratifying when Tully learns that Sage is gay, out, and interested.
This is a sweet and tender romance with just a hint of steam and a slow roll into love once friendship has been firmly established. Tully and Sage are both sweet guys, neither anticipating their connection will blossom into love. Sage is only planning to be away from his family for a year, but Tully gets involved in more than just Sage’s lodging. It was so fun to see Tully in Sage’s world, and his reaction to the complete acceptance he felt there. The juxtaposition to Tully’s own family life, well, that was rather special. Tully tells this story and he’s an honest narrator. He falls for Hair Shaker like he falls for Sage: hard and without reservation. The resolution to this one was total fairytale in the way that I love: happily ever after with a side of sexy men living out their dreams. I really liked it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.