Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Tensaw Blues

Tensaw Blues (Southern Beaus, #4)Tensaw Blues by T.D. McKinney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quinton Wolfe and Max Bowman (from “The Wolfe Proxy” , reviewed by Wave here) have been lovers for two years now, and the need to keep their relationship secret starts to get to them. As CEO of a big business concern, WolfeCorp, Quint is dependant on his investors’ money, and he’s afraid that coming out as a gay man will affect their interest and willingness to invest in his businesses. Quint has decided that the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of WolfeCorp’s employees outweigh his own need to live openly with Max, who he deems the love of his life. Although sculptor and artist Max agreed to this in the first place, he can’t help feeling overlooked, even more so since Quint is such a workaholic. Thus Max is more than happy to accompany Quint to the opening of a new WolfeCorp plant in a small town in Alabama, since he’s looking forward to at least a few hours of alone time with Quint.

Arriving at their destination, they find to their unexpected pleasure that their hotel isn’t only gay friendly, but seems populated with gay men. Even the architect in charge of Quint’s new plant, Cameron, turns out to be gay, introducing them to the man he plans to have a commitment ceremony with in the near future, Bolt. Their landlord, David, is also married to a man, although his husband, Brian, happens to be a ghost who only Max can see, but Quint cannot.

Well, it’s a delightful surprise for Max. At first depressed and frustrated about the need to keep his love for Quint under the radar, Max flourishes in the company of the other openly gay couples. The afternoon he spends with Bolt, in particular, brings new hope of a better future with Quint to him, since Bolt is an active DEA agent, obviously accepted among his fellow law enforcers despite his unashamed openness about his sexual preferences. Nevertheless, Bolt is also stunningly attractive, which doesn’t sit too well with Quint, whose jealousy and possessiveness are woken by the growing friendship between Max and Bolt.

I liked the way Quint slowly came to open his eyes to the most important things in his life. The other couples’ examples go a long way to show Quint that it is Max who really matters to him; Max’s own insistence and ultimately, Max’s accident are only the last straw. Max, on the other hand, could have come across as pathetic, but he didn’t; he’s a man in love who puts up with adverse conditions in order to be with the one he loves and ultimately, gets rewarded for his patience. Both men were endearing, well-rounded characters whose only fault might be that they appeared, at times, better than life, especially Max.

The same could be said about the secondary cast, although every one of them was a person in their own right. Both couples, Cameron and Bolt as well as Brian and David starred in their own stories in earlier instalments of the “Southern Beaus” series. It was a pleasure to meet them again, watching them interact with Max and Quint, ultimately contributing to the main couple’s HEA. There’s enough background information on either of them that Tensaw Blues can be read as a standalone, although it doesn’t hurt to know the other books.

Although this book is labeled “suspense/ mystery”, the actual mystery takes a backseat to Quint’s and Max’s relationship. Even so, there’s a considerable amount of action. The “showdown”, in particular, is very well-crafted and really exciting.

Tensaw Blues is a solid piece of skillfully cooked-up entertainment, funny, enticing, with a liberal sprinkling of suspenseful action and laced with sweet and passionate eroticism. I can recommend it.

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