Title: Tarnished Souls 4: Bread, Salt & Wine by Dev Bentham
Tarnished Souls Series Book Four
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Book Rating: A+ & A Recommended Read
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author
Some wounds never heal. George Zajac grew up in a religious family with a father who beat “the swish” out of him. Now he’s a troubled man. At thirty-eight he moves across the country to start a new life in Los Angeles, working as the catering chef for a prestigious French Restaurant.
Kenny Marks, a writer who’s currently waiting tables, is everything George cannot be–flamboyant, proud and sexually confident. Enthralled by Kenny, and against his own better judgment, George agrees to a date. Sparks fly. The sex is better than good. But even after the two get close, George remains crippled by humiliating sexual hang-ups. Still haunted by his childhood, he lingers in the closet and can’t commit to a relationship with Kenny.
Love is the great healer, but is it enough? George’s emotional scars could drive Kenny away, and with him, George’s last chance at happiness.
Bread, Salt & Wine, the final installment of Dev Bentham’s Tarnished Souls series, is a poignant, yet ultimately uplifting romance. Closeted, reserved George Zajac cannot fight his desire for openly gay Kenny Marks. With George unable to commit to a relationship, they embark on a friends with benefits relationship that takes place over several years and goes through many ups and downs before George can freely admit his feelings for Kenny.
George Zajac’s abusive childhood absolutely broke my heart, but watching him find the courage to face the demons of his past is worth the tears I shed for him. The shame and embarrassment he feels over his sexuality and his desires is absolutely heartbreaking. George is unable to reveal the worst of what he experienced at his overly religious father’s hands, but the effects are obvious as he struggles with his attraction and feelings for Kenny. George is a tortured protagonist with wonderful qualities and I was eager for him confront the issues that keep him from becoming the partner that Kenny deserves.
Kenny has the patience of a saint to put up with George’s reluctance to fully commit to their relationship. His love and compassion for George override his frustration over the status of their relationship until it becomes obvious that George has serious issues that need professional help to overcome. Kenny’s growing unhappiness with George becomes the catalyst George needs to change, but is it too late to salvage their floundering relationship?
As with the other novels in Tarnished Souls series, there is a spiritual aspect that provides added depth and substance to the overall story. The Jewish holiday celebrating Queen Esther, Purim, plays a pivotal role in George and Kenny’s relationship. The celebration not only demonstrates the changes in George’s life, but it also proves to be turning point for George’s personal growth as well.
Bread, Salt & Wine is a heartfelt and moving conclusion to a refreshing and innovative series. Love gives the characters the strength to make positive changes in their lives. Their journeys are often difficult and filled with strong emotion but I have enjoyed traveling with them as they triumph over adversity.
Fans will be delighted at Dev Bentham’s last heartwarming glimpse of all of the characters in the Tarnished Souls series. I loved seeing all of the men whose paths have crossed in the previous novels brought together for one last time. I am going to miss this series and I highly recommend it to all readers of male/male contemporary romances.
Read my reviews of the other stories in the Tarnished Souls series HERE.