Tomás Banner has always been one half of the famous Banner twins. He and his brother, Tiago, left their small town of Forestville after high school and went on to become elite models who are known throughout the world. It has always been the two of them together, until Tiago found happiness and the love of his life with Cas, and has taken a step back from modeling. Now, Tomás is feeling adrift and struggling to figure out just where he fits now that he is no longer half of a pair.
Dr. Fir Everett lost his husband, Samuel, five years ago and has been raising their sons alone. Fir knows Samuel wouldn’t want him grieving forever and had hoped Fir would find love again. But even though Fir is not as lost to grief as he once was, he isn’t sure he is ready for a new relationship. That doesn’t mean Fir doesn’t miss sex, however, and the pleasure and stress relief it brings him. When Fir sees that Tomás is back in town, staying with his brother and Cas, it seems like maybe this is a chance to act on his teenage attraction to Tomás.
It takes a bit for Tomás to realize that all Fir wants is some sexy fun together. He worries he can’t give Fir the relationship he is sure Fir wants. But once Fir is clear all he is looking for is a hookup, the guys end up connecting and finding that they have great chemistry together. As they spend more time together, both men are realizing they might be more interested in a relationship than they had first thought. However, Fir can’t imagine that a world famous model would ever want a small town doctor like him. And Tomás is still struggling to figure out what he wants for his future now that his career is no longer tied up with his brother. It will take both men some time to decide just what they want from their futures, but they just may find their happiness together.
Healing the Twin is the third book in Nora Phoenix’s Forestville Silver Foxes series. I am really enjoying these stories featuring a group of childhood friends who grew up in a small town and are now finding love. I particularly appreciate that most of the men are approaching fifty, so these are mature men with some interesting issues and relationship dynamics. This story features a new couple in Tomás and Fir, but Tiago and Cas’ story is told in the first book, Renovating the Model, and this group of friends appears in each other’s stories, so familiarity with this world will add something to your reading.
In the first book, we see Tomás as not quite the villain, but as a source of conflict for Tiago who is used to relying on his brother for everything, and Tomás has definitely fostered that co-dependence with his desire to take care of Tiago. Here we see that aftermath now that Tiago has settled into his new life and Tomás is adrift. I really like how Phoenix explores Tomás as a character here. Not only do we get to see things from his perspective this time, but also watch him grow and figure out what he wants for his own future. He is really struggling, having his whole sense of self sort of uprooted now that he and Tiago are living more separate lives. He is thrilled his brother found love, but also not sure what it means for him as the one seemingly left behind. It is all explored really nicely and I particularly appreciated that we see Tomás talk with a therapist to help him work through things.
Fir is in a good place emotionally, still grieving Samuel’s death, but not overwhelmed by it anymore. However, working as a small town doctor and raising teen boys is draining and he is just stressed and exhausted. He isn’t really looking for a relationship, but he does want sex and I love that he is the one to initiate things with Tomás. Everyone sort of imagines that Fir will be disciplined and uptight about sex and so it is a fun turning of tables that he is confident and comfortable with his needs. I think the story gives appropriate weight to Fir’s loss and the fact that Samuel will never be gone from his heart, but at the same time, it isn’t overly heavy in tone.
The guys start off just as sex partners and both men truly don’t want anything more. The story takes time to really focus on Tomás and Fir as they work through their own issues and figure out what they really want. This is really important, particularly for Tomás, to give him time to come to understand what he wants and needs for his future. I did think the pacing was a little off, however, as they seem to go from casually hooking up to suddenly realizing they are in love with each other super fast. It feels like the moment both men realize that they are open to a relationship, they are immediately in love and ready to commit to each other long term. I think with the nice slow development through most of the book, this jump to love just felt too fast. But I did really like these men together and think overall the relationship build works well.
I also want to give a nod to the great cover here (featuring the gorgeous photographer Wander Aguiar) and how well it coordinates with the cover on Renovating the Model. The guys feel perfectly like fraternal twins and the models capture the brothers so well.
I am really enjoying this series and Phoenix is doing a nice job introducing us to the various characters who will presumably feature in future books, without having them take over the current story. There are so many interesting characters here and I am looking forward to more stories set in this world.