"Home Skillet," by Cate Ashwood & Sandra Damien
gay (m/M) romance
Sometimes the only way to move forward… is to go back.
I don't know what's more shocking—the sudden end to my marriage, or the fact that I'd married a woman at all. But now I'm broke and homeless, kicked out of my Upper West Side apartment while my ex-wife walks away with everything we've ever worked for.
So what's an executive chef stripped of his dignity gonna do?
Go back to Jersey with his tail between his legs, that's what.
I can’t say that spending a decade pining after my best friend was the best use of my time. While I'd pretty much become an expert at the whole unrequited love thing, I'd resigned myself to the fact that Jimmy and I were never gonna happen. But when Jimmy turned up on my doorstep in his hour of need, I jumped at the chance to offer him my bed—er, couch. I mean, what are friends for, right?
Now that he's released from the shackles of matrimony, I can't wait to show him exactly what he's been missing out on all these years.
What I didn't anticipate was him showing me that maybe I'd been missing out too.
I have to admit, this week’s book was a total and utter joy. It’s the first one in quite a while that I read purely by choice rather than as part of my helping-my-fellow-authors-get-their-words-seen-and-loved outreach program. 😄
Which basically means, this was a pleasure read that truly ended up being just that: a total delight. In fact, I downloaded this bad boy on my Kindle with the goal of reading a chapter here and there when I had the time. Next thing I knew, late morning had turned into early evening and I had devoured the whole thing. In one sitting. Yeah, Home Skillet by Cate Ashwood & Sandra Damien is one of those books. The kind you get sucked into and forget to eat, or sleep, or relieve your bladder.
Not that I’m complaining. Because, like I said, this was 100% up my alley, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Obviously, for those of you who know anything about me, my forte is gay, male/male romance. That’s what I write, and that’s what I love. That doesn’t mean I can’t and don’t read many other genres—and more often than not quite love what I read because, hi, word love all around, am I right?—but this book totally scratched my itch for some hot man-on-man love action.
The plot itself is based on a trope—they exist for a reason, folks… because people love ‘em!—but it’s done in a refreshing and unique way. Yes, there’s a closeted gay man who’s in love with his best friend, and, yes, said closeted gay man goes to the extremes of marrying a straight woman to hide who he really is both from himself and the world. But that’s kind of where the super tropey nature ends.
I fell for Ben right from the start. His character is strong, his personality distinct, and his heart bigger than most. He isn’t ashamed of who he is, and he isn’t ashamed of who he loves. However, he doesn’t hate Jimmy for being unable to travel that same path, and instead, he loves from afar and suffers the repercussions in silence, all the while remaining an amazing, supportive, and always-there-for-you kinda best friend. But on top of all that, I also adore how down-to-Earth and real he is. He works a somewhat dead-end job, but does so with pride and dedication, and he lives in a somewhat crap-apartment, yet turns it into a home. He isn’t money hungry, nor does he seek more from life than what matters most: happiness, love, and family (whether that family shares his DNA or not).
And Jimmy? Oh, folks, you’ll adore him too. He’s a professional chef with a world of skill, yet he respects the roles those beneath him play and strives to make the best of himself without harming others. Yes, he’s hiding from who he is, but that doesn’t make him weak. On the contrary, as the wise and sage Ben so beautifully put it:
I absolutely adore Ben and Jimmy’s story. They face countless difficulties in their path to finding and owning their love, but they are genuine, believable, and heartbreakingly honest. Even though I knew they’d wind up together in the end—thank goodness for small favors with the expectations of romance, am I right?—I still found myself biting my lip and frowning into my Kindle as little bubbles of unease worked their way into my system. I knew they’d get past the hurdles they faced but watching them from my readerly perch of uselessness had me tense and thoroughly invested. Which, of course, made the resultant pay-out that much sweeter.
Plus, let’s be honest here… the sex scenes were hot. 🔥 Not quite erotica level, but descriptive and beautifully intense, both emotionally and physically.
Overall, this is a quick and thoroughly enjoyable read. The characters are relatable and distinct; the plot is tropey yet unique; and the authors will leave you with a big ol’ happy grin on your face. What more can you honestly ask for?
Until next time,