Kelly Haworth

Author of Queer Speculative Romance

Burnt Toast B&B: A Review


So I read a fun book in January, and I want to share my thoughts with people.  Warning, there’s a few spoilers below, but I’ll try to be pretty vague.

A new release to Riptide Publishing, Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz is about two guys trying to deal with their feelings for each other while one, Derrick, is intentionally running his B&B into the ground and the other, Ginsberg, is healing from a broken arm and has nowhere else to turn.

This lighthearted romance has themes that I am now recognizing from romance to romance, like Derrick spending way too long trying to decide whether or not he is going to move the plot forward, and both main characters agonizing over whether or not they should express their feelings for the other, and Derrick making a horribly bad decision and realizing the error of his ways.  I think all of these plot points are handled gracefully and well, letting me laugh at the silly parts and making my heart swell with joy when the characters do finally make a move on each other.  But I do feel like some of the internalizations of Derrick about his parent’s B&B pushed it too far and became repetitious, just a loop of “I should but I can’t, I should but I can’t” for a few pages every few chapters.

What really made this book stand out for me were the characters.  Ginsberg is amazing.  He’s quirky and funny and compassionate and I instantly wanted him to be my best friend.  I feel like I would get along with him.  I’d want him to just tell me about his day over tea and I would watch his animated talking and expressiveness and just be happy to know him.  I genuinely liked him. That does not usually happen to me regarding a book character, so I definitely give Heidi and Rachel mad props for doing such a fantastic job with making him come alive.  And of course, they handled the fact that he’s trans with precision and grace so that he was effortlessly normal.  I’ve heard that doesn’t always happen in fiction, so I wanted to point that out here.

Many of the other characters, from flamboyant Jimmy all the way to nonbinary Dean were all well rounded and real and fit into this world very well.  I’ll admit I haven’t read the other books of the Bluewater Bay series so I’m not sure which of these characters are showcased in other books, but I am at least pleased with how well they were portrayed in this one.

And because it’s a romance, I do want to touch briefly on the sex– insomuch to say that it read very well and was engaging.  Derrick ‘s doubt about the proper way (of course proper is going to differ from person to person) to have sex with a trans person was honest and just a little silly, which I thought was completely perfect for these characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and will probably snoop around the authors’ backlogs to see what else catches my fancy.

Have a great weekend, all!

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