Title: Sauna Lover
Author: Susan Laine
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages
At a Glance: The ending is tied up too quickly, too neatly, and with little conflict after the set up given
Blurb: When Shawn Wells learns a planned development project threatens the quaint gay neighborhood of Trickstown, he jumps into action. This is his home turf. Plus, his favorite hangout, bathhouse Hot Haven, is the heart of the community–along with its owner, Toby Macintyre, who has been a sort-of friend to Shawn for years.
Surprisingly, Toby seems opposed to Shawn’s community-wide campaign to save the uniqueness and unity of the area. Even so, an unexpected attraction sparks between them, further fanning the flames of change.
Shawn has to fight for the future of his community, his beloved bathhouse, and for Toby. The sauna lover quickly finds himself in some real hot water.
Review: Seeing as my first review for The Novel Approach was a Susan Laine book, I jumped at the opportunity to review Sauna Lover. I had high hopes for the novella, but ultimately it was disappointing for me. There were some good moments and it did grow on me; however, the ending was too neatly resolved and it had me rolling my eyes.
Shawn is the narrator of this story, and a self-professed, unashamed slut. Given his title you’d expect to see more sex on the page, but there’s not much. A few hookups, not very detailed. I was fine with that. It was his personality that grated on me. He’s very energetic, over-the-top, and fits the description of a twink—given by himself and other characters—perfectly. He did grow on me, however, once he toned it down a bit and fixated on Toby, and that’s when I started to like him. At least a little bit.
Toby is a good character, though. I enjoyed reading about him, and honestly I would have loved this story more if it had been told from his perspective. Seeing the business owner quietly wanting his most valuable customer, and observing his interactions with others (read: sleeping with every male that walks into the business except him), would have added a deeper emotional layer to the story.
When things start to heat up between the businesses of Trickstown and the land developer, I settled in for a good battle. Shawn thought he had something figured out, made a call to talk to someone…and then suddenly everyone he knew was happily gathered and problem solved. I had wanted something more, wanted Shawn to use his wit and snarkiness to take someone down, but it didn’t happen.
I did learn quite a bit about sauna culture from this book, though. I had no idea there were so many different types and different techniques. In the cold weather I’m facing right now, it made me want to go take a steam bath of my own.
You can buy Sauna Lover here: