renovating the model coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel


Tiago Banner grew up in the small town of Forestville, but he and his twin brother, Tomas, left after high school for a career in modeling. The brothers have become world famous with huge success, but now at almost 50, Tiago is starting to consider a change. He is getting tired of the constant travel and the rigors of life as an elite model. He is also finding himself unexpectedly frustrated with Tomas, who he has always been happy to let manage their careers and make most of their decisions. But now, Tiago is starting to realize he wants a more independent life and something just for him, rather than doing everything with his twin.

Now, the brothers are back in Forestville for the week for a high school reunion. When Tiago meets Cas, a local contractor, the guys spark an instant connection, one that both of them are eager to pursue with a hot night (or nights) together while Tiago is in town. However, when Tiago impulsively decides to buy a house in Forestville that need some major renovation and asks Cas to be his contractor, both men decide it is best to keep their relationship professional. Not that it is easy, however. The chemistry between the men is fierce and the long days they spend together working on the house make it difficult to keep to their plan of no sex.

As the men get to know each other better, they both find themselves realizing their feelings are more than friends. But Tiago can’t imagine how a younger man like Cas would really want someone his age. And Cas has trouble believing that after a life of traveling the world as a famous model, Tiago would ever be happy with a quiet, small town life. However, the men have fallen hard for one another and are beginning to imagine what a life together could bring. Now, they both have to take a chance and share their feelings, and they may find their way to a happily ever after.

Renovating the Model kicks off Nora Phoenix’s new Forestville Silver Foxes series and I really loved it. Phoenix has given us a great small town setting here populated by entertaining and interesting people. Sometimes when a series introduces a lot of potential future main characters, it can feel like too much sequel fodder. Like we are meeting people just to get to know them for their own stories, not because they have value for this book. So I was really delighted at how well Phoenix sets things up here, introducing us to various people in town, as well as to Tiago, his brother, and their close high school friends. I found myself interested in their backstories and liked learning about their friendships and connections to Tiago, and I never found myself feeling like they were series filler. We meet some great characters and Phoenix really brings this small town to life. We also get a little town map at the front of the book, which I just loved and I referred to it often as the guys travel around the town. My geek side just loves a book map and so I found that a fun little treat.

The story starts off with Cas and Tiago having a great meet cute, followed by some hot, no-strings sex. Even though Tiago is a world-famous model, he feels down to earth and is a believable fit for regular guy, Cas. The men have great chemistry and I could feel the pull between them as they make their no sex rule while Cas is working for Tiago. It gives a chance for the men to get to know each other and really settle into each other’s lives and I liked them a lot together. Tiago is at a crossroads in that he is ready to leave modeling, but hasn’t quite made the break, in part because of fear of upsetting Tomas. Tiago has severe dyslexia and has always felt like Tomas is the smarter, more competent twin. So he has always just deferred all decisions about just about everything to his brother. Now, Tiago is realizing not only is he over modeling, he also is ready to starting making some of his own choices and life decisions, but it is scary and not always easy for him. I liked that Cas finds a way to support Tiago and help make things easier for him, but still lets him spread his wings to start having some independence.

My only area where I had some disbelief is that Tiago is set up as this world-famous model. Like a household name, people recognize him on the street kind of model. Yet, he seems to have no agent, no manager, no PR team, etc. It seems like Tomas books all their jobs, makes all their travel arrangements, etc. When Tiago needs to sign some legal paperwork for the house, he doesn’t have a lawyer so Cas has to recommend one. When the media starts hounding Tiago, he just handles it himself without ever calling any kind of PR team to deal with it. Given the level of fame the brothers are supposed to have and their incredibly high-profile and busy careers, it seemed hard to imagine they literally had no one working for them, even an agent to handle booking arrangements or contracts. Of course, this is a small quibble, nothing major, just something that threw me out of the story a bit at times.

Overall, I found this a great start to a new series. I loved Cas and Tiago together and found them such an appealing couple. I also really enjoyed getting to know the folks in the town of Forestville and there seem to be lots of interesting stories to tell. I am really looking forward to where things go from here.

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