Bambi came to Palm Island two seasons ago after grief over his father’s death caused him to pick up and leave his normal life behind. He enjoys living on the island, but it was never supposed to be home for good, just a temporary stop while he worked through things. He hasn’t fully settled into Palm Island, mostly keeping to himself and making few close friends. Still, Bambi isn’t quite sure the island is done with him yet, so he is staying through the off season once again while he figures things out. In the meantime, Bambi needs a new place to stay, as his roommate is moving off island.
When his co-worker, Ten, offers Bambi a room, he is excited but nervous. Bambi has been crushing hard on Ten, but doesn’t see himself having any chance. Ten is gorgeous and has a revolving door of men in his bedroom, both tourists and locals. Bambi is a virgin with zero experience of any kind, and so he can’t help but be a little unsure around Ten. Yet Ten is friendly, welcoming, and encourages Bambi to get out there and meet people.
With the off season starting, it’s the time for the locals to have their fun. With Ten’s help, Bambi starts to enjoy life on the island, making new friends and getting involved in new activities. And as the men spend more time together, things change between him and Ten as well. Soon, the pair are sharing adventures on the island, and hot nights together on the beach and at home. Bambi is beginning to imagine what life could be like if he never left Palm Island, but he also feels he has unfinished business out in the world. And Ten has never imagined leaving the island, planning to put down roots. Bambi and Ten have fallen hard for one another, but now they have to figure out how they can blend their futures together.
Perfect Ten is the first book in K.M. Neuhold’s new Off Season series (now renamed Palm Island series), featuring what happens at the end of the season when the locals come out to play on a gay resort island. It is a fun set up and the story starts just as the off season gets underway. We meet a fun and engaging group of men, both Ten’s friends, as well as new ones that Bambi begins to make. Life on the island is pretty much a fairy tale — beautiful weather, beaches, mountains, and lots of hot, sexy men enjoying one another. I really liked this group of characters and Neuhold sets things up well to get to know them over the course of the series.
Bambi and Ten are a great mix of sweet and sexy together. Bambi is (as his nickname suggests) mostly sweet and innocent, while Ten is a guy who is comfortable with himself and has an active sex life. Ten is gentle and doting on Bambi, treating him so sweetly, even when they are just friends. The men start out with a friendship that fairly quickly becomes more. Even as they take things a bit slowly for Bambi, there is a lot of heat here and it doesn’t take long before the guys are exploring pretty much everything together. There is a nice playful vibe, along with a lot of tenderness, plus a big dose of sexy between them. Neuhold makes the most of the virgin versus sexually experienced dynamic. But I like that Ten’s encouragement and support also gets Bambi out there trying things outside the bedroom — making new friends, surfing, hiking, and opening up his world a little. At the same time, the wilder Ten starts to enjoy some quiet moments as well. While there is some tension at the the end as the men sort things out for their future, this is a pretty low angst story, and I enjoyed the nice feel good storyline with sweetness and heat.
Ok, so this next part is a complete your mileage may vary, and I know right now 99% of people won’t be bothered by it. But since it threw me out of the story at the start and I struggled a little to settle into the book as a result, I’m going to throw it out there. So the set up here is that this is a gay resort island in South Carolina and there are only tourists six months out of the year, after which it is only a small group of locals (who will be the romance fodder for the series). And I could go with that on the surface, but really struggled with the early world building details. First, the off season starts on Labor Day, which makes no sense to me. It is still probably 95 degrees in South Carolina at the start of September. Why would that be the end of the season? Why would there be only a six-month season in the first place? Even my little beach town I visit has big crowds from March-November and tourists through the winter when it is only 40 degrees. But even if you go with the idea that for some reason this whole island only has a six-month season, this place is like a light switch going off. One night the place is swarmed with tourists, partying and having sex in the street until the wee hours. The next day, every single solitary tourist and any workers not staying through the winter are completely gone. It made no sense to me. Doesn’t someone have to at least stick around to shut down the businesses? No tourists linger in the off season? Along with that, we are told there are only a few dozen locals who stay over the off season (so maybe 40-50 people?). And most of them don’t work, because somehow they make enough during six months to live off of all year. So on one hand, the bars and restaurants and other shops are now all closed for six months because no one is working, but on the other hand, some stores are randomly and conveniently open all year (like the sex shop). It just didn’t seem fully thought out. Or at least, as if the goal was getting these hot guys alone on the island without really developing the rest of the world building in a way that made a lot of sense.
Again, I know this is all small stuff, but it threw me out of the story so much at the start as I kept having all these questions about how things could possibly work this way. But honestly, once I got going and settled into the book, I could let all that drift away and just enjoy the story. And like I said, most people won’t care about any of that anyway. Because in the end, this is a really sweet and sexy story, and there is a nice dose of island fantasy and magic that works its way into the journey for Ten and Bambi. I think there is so much great potential here for this series and I enjoyed meeting these characters. I really can’t wait to see where Neuhold takes this series and look forward to following along with the various guys as they find their happy endings.