Title: Sauna Lover
Author: Susan Laine
Length: Novella (93 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (January 16th, 2015)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5Hearts
Blurb: When Shawn Wells learns a planned development project threatens the quaint gay neighborhood of Trickstown, he jumps into action. This is his home turf. Plus, his favorite hangout, bathhouse Hot Haven, is the heart of the community–along with its owner, Toby Macintyre, who has been a sort-of friend to Shawn for years.
Surprisingly, Toby seems opposed to Shawn’s community-wide campaign to save the uniqueness and unity of the area. Even so, an unexpected attraction sparks between them, further fanning the flames of change.
Shawn has to fight for the future of his community, his beloved bathhouse, and for Toby. The sauna lover quickly finds himself in some real hot water.
Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5956
Review: I’m honestly having a real problem rating this one. Mostly because this is an interesting and well-written story, but my problem is that it simply didn’t grab me like I wouldn’t be able to go on if I didn’t keep on reading.
Shawn Wells is well-known in his local area as the sauna slut because he hook-ups with just about every gay, bi and even a few straight guys. This may sound harsh, but this is almost a direct quote from the book, which is written from Shawn’s POV.
He’s a twink who is passionate about his town and the people in it, too. One of his favourite haunts is Hot Heaven, a sauna and bathhouse run by Toby MacIntyre. He’s a quiet and unassuming guy – totally the opposite of, at least for me, what one would expect from a gay man running a sauna. Perhaps I’m stereotyping?
Shawn and Toby really have some good chemistry, even if it seemed to have just appeared out of nowhere in some respects and in others it seemed like a slowly bubbling relationship. Shawn is all energy and infuses it with Toby. Toby by no means lacks energy; he’s just more conservative than Shawn.
They are certainly an odd couple but they work well. These guys are friends, sort of, but they know each other on a professional level before they start to get personal. Yet Shawn does lots of little things for Toby, like find him a reliable receptionist (actually, I wonder where the first one disappeared to? I don’t think it was mentioned that she finally got fired).
I have no objection to how these guys finally got together, my only issue is why did it take them so long?! Although when Toby has a go at Shawn I really feel sorry for Shawn, it felt like Toby had just kicked a puppy and that definitely added dimension to both characters. The conclusion was also nice in that respect because it was good to see where the characters ended up, otherwise the ending would have been abrupt and unsatisfying, to me at least.
There are some really interesting minor characters, mostly the guys that attend Hot Heaven. It was nice seeing the guys get together and do the whole community spirit thing when their town was under threat, yet at the same time I was kind of expecting a whole scene of “you have my steel… you have my axe”.
As I said, this is a good book with a fairly good plot. The only problem for me was that the story didn’t grab me. But if you’re after a lighthearted read, this definitely fills that criteria. And even better, if you want a satisfying end with a happily ended after and a reformed rake-type of figure, this also works there too.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *