What I’m Talking About:
All Derrick Richards really wants is to get away from the B&B his parents left him (with all the cleaning, washing, and cooking that goes with it) and back to his logging job like a real man should. And since the place has earned the top spot on the “worst of” lists under his management, he can’t see any reason to keep trying. But, when he asks for a sign to show him what he should do, he gets more than he bargained for in the form of a waterlogged stuntman in a cast who turns up at his front door looking for somewhere to stay.
Ginsberg Sloan knows all about doing whatever it takes to get by. Working as a stuntman may be his calling, but it isn’t what you’d term steady work, even under the best of circumstances. After a broken arm threatens to deplete what’s left of his finances, he’s got to come up with a cheap solution and fast. Having gotten used to “couch surfing” during lean times in the past, staying at the B&B that everyone has warned him about seems like a pretty good idea. But, there’s bad, and then there’s bad, and even the handsome, enticingly growly owner might not be temptation enough to stick around. Luckily, Ginsberg’s never been a quitter, and a new project (or two) could be exactly what he needs.
In The Burnt Toast B&B, the fifth story in the series, the repercussions of the Hollywood invasion on the inhabitants of the sleepy town of Bluewater Bay continue. This time, we’re introduced to Derrick Richards, owner of a local B&B, and Ginsberg Sloan, stunt performer for the hit TV show, Wolf’s Landing. These two men are the poster boys for “opposites attract.” Though this inevitably leads to some anxious, and even heartbreaking, moments, there’s plenty of laughter and romance, too.
While he has a very sweet, undeniably vulnerable side, Derrick also has a wagon-load of issues: he’s closeted, despairs of failing his father’s memory, has a debilitating case of image panic as a result of childhood bullying, and is obsessed with stereotypes and his own “manliness.” During his better moments, though, he is a lovably awkward, earnest man with more potential than sense. Ginsberg calls him a “disaster,” and he’s not remotely wrong. Derrick is a great, big mess just waiting to implode, and when he does, he does so spectacularly. That redemption is an option at all makes Derrick possibly the luckiest train wreck ever written.
Ginsberg, on the other hand, is remarkable in all sorts of ways. Despite being smaller than many others in his profession, he is the stunt performer of choice for the lead actor on a popular television show. He has managed to not just survive without any support from his family, but to create one of his own out of friends and co-workers. He is kind, generous, fiercely loyal, and eternally optimistic. He’s also transgender. And, even though he has encountered more rejection and obstacles than anyone should ever have to, he faces the world with hope and an open heart. Ginsberg truly does shine throughout this story, lifting up everyone around him that he can. The only thing that could possibly be held against him is that he tolerates Derrick for as long as he does, but even that fits his giving nature.
As there’s so much to the story itself, I was happy to see that, while it does become an important part of the main characters’ relationship, sex doesn’t play a major role in The Burnt Toast B&B. Although there was an endearing nervousness apparent in both men, the teasing, uncertain dance they engaged in for most of the story made their initial coupling, and the relief that they actually got there, even more enjoyable. The entire scene is extremely well written, and I found it neither unnecessarily technical, nor gratuitous. It was warm and balanced; simply two people who desire one another—badly—and whose being together is an exploration, rather than just satiation. In the case of Derrick and Ginsberg, it is a moment filled with humor, joyfully irrefutable lust, and tenderness.
Even though The Burnt Toast B&B is, on the surface, the story of two very different men finding their way through the rubble and back to one another’s arms, it is a great deal more than that as well. It is about love, certainly, but also about cowardice, stereotypes, and pride (both the good kind and the bad). Mostly, I feel that it is about self-acceptance, without which any other battles are already forfeit. While there is a lot of ongoing controversy concerning LGBTQ groups and misrepresentation, society’s myriad phobias that cause so much harm, and, perhaps worse, the lack of any representation at all, the authors’ commitment to getting it right in this narrative is apparent. While there still aren’t enough titles that are about and geared toward marginalized audiences, the number of well-written stories is increasing, and I believe that this is an exemplary addition.
My Rating: A, Loved It
About the Book:
After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.
Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.
Not outright, at least.
The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.
Release Date: January 12, 2015
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Series: Bluewater Bay #5
ISBN: # 978-1626492172
Genre: LGBTQ, Transgender
Format(s): paperback (241 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5)
Reviews in the Series:
Hell on Wheels by Z.A. Maxfield (Bluewater Bay #3)
From the Authors:
Hi, and welcome to The Burnt Toast B&B blog tour! We’re Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz, the authors of the book, and we’re so thankful to have you along for the ride, and thankful to our hosts at That’s What I’m Talking About for having us here today!
Normally on a blog tour, we like to share all kinds of behind the scenes goodies to do with the book: inspiration images, glimpses into research and plotting, deleted scenes, conversations about our process, character bios, etc. For this tour, though, we’re doing something a little different, but we hope you’ll still find it worth your while.
When Heidi first pitched The Burnt Toast B&B, it was as an opposites-attract story centring around the world’s worst B&B . . . and an M/M romcom where one of the lead guys just happened to be transgender. Writing solo, she’d done a trans book before, but that was very much a Trans Book, all about exploring gender identity, defining who you are, and coming out to your friends and loved ones. This book . . . isn’t that. It’s the story of an optimistic hipster stuntman and a pessimistic lumberjack who learn to make espresso, fix up a failing B&B, and generally butt heads in between loads of laundry.
Ginsberg, our hipster, is much like many of our other favourite M/M heroes: he’s funny, resilient, romantic, and sexy as hell. He’s also transgender; secure in his identity, his body, and his sexuality; and working in a career he loves. But his life isn’t without hardships. Ginsberg made his own family after his biological one turned out to be too toxic to live with. He scrimped and saved and borrowed to pay for the medical care he needed to be happy and healthy. He found a roof over his head as a “considerate couchsurfer,” living with friends and acquaintances on a temporary basis when money got tight. In Derrick and his failing B&B, Ginsberg finally finds an opportunity to have a real home, if only he can convince Derrick to keep the place open.
Ginsberg’s background of financial hardship and lack of family support is all too common among many people who, like him, are trans and trying to live happy, fulfilling lives as their true selves. As such, we the authors, our publisher Riptide, and our generous blog tour hosts will be using the next few days to highlight the personal fundraisers of real trans people in need. We hope that if you’ve got a little extra money this month, you’ll consider donating, and if money’s tight, maybe you can help by spreading the word, too.
For our part, Rachel, Heidi, and Riptide will be giving donors a $5 Riptide credit code for every $10 in donations you make (up to $50 in codes per person, up to $5,000 in codes overall)–just email your donation receipt(s) to email@example.com with the subject line “Burnt Toast Tour Donation,” and Riptide will send out all $5 codes a week after the tour ends. (It’s totally cool, by the way, to spread your donations across multiple fundraisers if you’d like; we’ll add up all your receipts sent in a single email and base your credit vouchers on the grand total.)
We’re also hosting a special contest for people who donate: every dollar in donations to any of these fundraisers will earn you an entry into a drawing for a full paperback set of Riptide’s current Bluewater Bay lineup, OR two signed paperback copies of The Burnt Toast B&B. We’ll draw one week after the blog tour ends. Every dollar helps, and every dollar counts!
Lastly, we’ll randomly select three commenters from all the tour stops and donate $50 apiece in each winner’s name to the trans charity or fundraiser of their choice. (Please be sure to leave a way for us to contact you if you win!)
Today’s fundraiser is for Claire, a trans woman hoping to offer electrolysis services to trans women in need for free or at reduced cost. You can learn more about her goal here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/free-electrolysis-by-and-for-transgender-people
A trans woman herself, Claire knows how important treatments like electrolysis are to trans women’s safety, comfort, and job security. She’s raising money to purchase an electrolysis machine, and to pay for her schooling to become a licensed electrologist. This fundraiser not only helps Claire to find gainful, meaningful employment as a trans woman, it also allows her to take care of her community in a concrete way. And if you’re local to California, multiple donation reward levels include discounted electrolysis for you or a friend as a thank you.
To learn more about Claire and her goals, and to find out about her great donation rewards, check her out on indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/free-electrolysis-by-and-for-transgender-people
Thank you so much for following our (slightly unconventional) blog tour! Be sure to leave a comment on this or any of our other tour stops for a chance to have $50 donated in your name to a trans-related fundraiser/charity of your choice. And if you choose to donate to any of the fundraisers we’ve highlighted over the course of the tour, don’t forget to forward proof of your donation to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Burnt Toast Tour Donation” to claim your $5 coupon(s) and enter your name in the extra special drawing!
Lastly, if you or someone you love is transgender and going through a difficult time, please check out the Trans Lifeline, http://www.translifeline.org/. This crisis helpline is staffed entirely by trans volunteers and runs at least twelve hours a day, seven days a week, in the US and Canada. If you’re in crisis, please call them. If you’d like to support this nonprofit, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/translifeline.