Review - "Hard as Teak" by Margie Church
Good, solid effort
A nature photographer who is gaining a name for himself, Kevin is in a bit of a rut. His success is growing, but everything else feels...off. His work is beginning to bore him. His relationship with his girlfriend is stagnant and he is having trouble completing sex with her. And he's picturing men in his fantasies.
So he decides to pack it all in and take a working vacation to his cabin in Minnesota and gain some perspective. As he gets there, he meets Drew, a local guy, and then Teak. Teak, who takes his breath away, and inspires him to take new chances in his work. And in his personal life, especially when he finds himself sexually attracted to Teak.
The two share sparks, which soon ignites into a passionate affair that scares and excites Kevin. The two men live in different states, have different lives. And Kevin will be going back home in a few short weeks.
If he starts something with Teak, will it last? What will happen with Kevin's girlfriend? His gallery back home? His life as he knows it?
Margie Church created some very nice characters in a hard situation. One straight, in a relationship with a woman, but questioning his sexuality. One bi and out, proud and certain of who and what he is. And they are thrust into a highly charged situation where they have a mutual attraction.
I can understand Kevin's questioning. He's not satisfied in any area of his life, and is looking for more. That strikes us all, and I admire his strength in taking the steps to break out of that rut he's in. And there the story works for me. It's very relatable, very straightforward.
I loved the two men, and hoped to see more of Drew. They were all great, fleshed out, interesting. All good men in their own right. I think a great book could be built around any of these three guys. There was potential and chemistry.
Where the book falls a little bit short for me is in the execution of the story.
I was left feeling a bit disconnected from some of the relationship aspects of Kevin and Teak. Teak was very masculine and in-your-face, but then was doubting and...not manly. Almost against character. I found there to be a gap with his giving the power in the relationship to Kevin.
And Kevin. Kevin wasn't a very sympathetic character to me. He had a girlfriend he was stringing along, and he entered into a sexual relationship with a man. Granted, Teak is a hottie, but Kevin had no experience with men and he seemed to be ready to jump without looking.
There was also a large time lapse in the last weeks of their relationship, before Kevin went home. That, to me, would have been an ideal time to reinforce the care they were building for each other. Instead, there was nothing.
I enjoyed the book, there is no doubt about that. It was funny, there were moments of shot-to-the-heart "Oh Hell"'s and I was genuinely moved a couple of times. And yeah, I would recommend it. I just wish that the blanks had been filled in a little more for me.
Ms. Church is a good writer with great ideas. Keep 'em coming!