Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: St-st-stuffed by Anyta Sunday

St-st-stuffed (Enemies to Lovers Book 2) by Anyta Sunday
Gay romance released by Anyta Sunday on January 2, 2014

St-st-stuffed CoverOther than his most prized Lamborghini, Karl Andrews has nothing to his name. He’s down on his luck and his dollar, and his dream of becoming a professional chef is looking more and more like a pipedream. Even less than a pipedream when restaurants won’t even take him on as a waiter.
And he won’t ever, no not ever, consider selling his one possession. No matter how much he could make from it. Just wasn’t going to happen.
He’d rather . . . rather . . .
Hell, he’d rather apply for that position to be a Girl Friday.

Other than the title, the job sounds all right. Bit of cooking, cleaning—nothing he can’t handle.
Until he goes to the interview and discovers the man looking for the help is the same man he’d bullied, mocked, terrified as a boy. But Paul Hyte is obviously a better man, gracious and forgiving. And trusting—as the biggest part of the job requires looking after his son.

Despite the initial forgiveness, things are tentative between Karl and Paul, and they’ve both got to reconcile their pasts if they want any type of proper closure. As the two men learn more about each other an undeniable attraction grows between them—but can the two manage to forge a future together on such a rocky past and complicated present?

February’s TBR (To Be Read) challenge was a book by an author with multiple books on your TBR. I am a serial reader, so once I’ve read an author I like add ALL the books, so there were in fact 3 authors with more than 4 books each on my TBR, I decided on St-st-stuffed because I also love enemies to lovers, I’ve had an awful cold recently, so tucked up on the sofa this was devoured in one sitting!

One of the reasons that I have multiple Anyta Sunday books on my TBR is that she also writes ANOTHER of my favourite book things, the linked series, where each book is a self contained story, but linked via characters/ places to other books.

In terms of romance, this is a slow burn, first of all they have to come to terms with what happened to them in their childhood, then there is the employee/employer relationship, Paul has a child and feels guilty over his wife’s death (in childbirth) . Karl is haunted by his rejection by his parents, and a failed relationship plus his lack of job success. First they come to terms with the bullying Karl did to Paul over his stutter, then Karl and Charlie bond and Karl and Paul become friends. There is a clear attraction between them, that fizzles but mainly goes nowhere – until it does.

Both men are queer, Karl is gay and Paul is closeted, although he’s only been involved with women. Karl was outed to his family by a previous lover, has no contact with his family anymore. While Karl is a bit messy emotionally, he is getting there, developing into an honest and authentic man. His relationship with Charlie (Paul’s son) is lovely and we see that Karl wants to be part of a family and starts to see this could be with Paul.

Paul overcame his stutter, and married the girl who helped him but see’s being gay as something that will make other people think less of him, and his internal struggle to be honest and himself is the crux of the book. There is no evidence among his friends and family that this would be the case either, and slowly his attraction for Karl starts to win over his fear.

I struggled with where this book was set, as I didn’t get any real sense of place, which is an issue I’ve had with Anyta Sunday’s books in the past. For me the location of a book enhances the story, and in the cases of some authors can almost be a character- but here the neutrality did not work, which given how much I enjoyed the rest of the book was a shame.

The relationship between the two men and Charlie, as well as their friends and Paul’s in-laws is gentle and caring from the start, but there is also passion and intensity. I love Sunday’s writing style, and her ability to show the love in everyday situations, and this is a really good example of it.

Grade: B+

You can buy a copy of the book here.

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