Review: Reawaken (Under My Skin #2) by Christina Lee

Losing his adoring husband shattered Tristan Rogers's world. For the past few years, he’s been going through the motions, running their dog grooming business while hiding the loneliness he feels down to his bones. When he witnesses an ugly breakup between a pretentious customer and his boyfriend, Tristan can’t help but intervene. Something about the unassuming younger man calls to him, and he can’t help wondering if he’s experienced some heartache of his own.

Life took a tragic turn for Jonas “West” Hollis as a teen, and he’s felt indebted to his overbearing lover ever since. Tristan’s kindness draws him from the start, but with his dreams finally in reach, West can’t risk getting close to someone else. Not now that he can live his life and stand on his own merit.

From innocent texts to companionable rides on Tristan’s boat, what starts as an unexpected friendship between the men sparks into undeniable attraction. Neither are ready for anything deeper than a couple of passionate nights wrapped in each other’s arms but their connection becomes too intense for either to ignore. If Tristan and West want to heal their broken hearts, they’ll need a considerable amount of trust and courage—not only in themselves but also each other.

No sophomore slump here!

From the blurb I expected this to be super heavy and was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't. Both men have suffered losses in their lives and are at varying stages of coming back from that. Tristan has had three years to deal with the loss of his beloved husband whereas West has just broken free of his controlling sorta boyfriend and is trying to stretch his wings. So... heavy adjacent?

Tristan and West have kind of been eyeballing each other for quite some time. We were introduced to West and his overbearing "boyfriend" in Regret. There is some underlying attraction from both parties but West is skittish. He wants to make a life for himself that's all his own thus is relationship averse but he also craves a connection. He begins calling and checking in with Tristan at Doggie Styles after Tristan helped him get away from Michael (the sorta ex); there is some flirtation and they meet up occasionally but he always always takes off before any bonding can happen. They slow burn from friends to friends with bennies to definite strings attached.

The dynamic these two have was delightfully unexpected! I heart me a big guy bottoming and these two even have a little D/s thing happening! Tristan likes to let West run the show and West likes to run it which makes them really compatible as well as smokin' hot! But what got me in the feels was they're both cuddle bunnies with West preferring to be wrapped up by Tristan, who's got some size on him. I thought this evened the power dynamics. Age difference, size difference, big buy bottoming = #WINNING!

I also really liked that West likes to cook and wants to pursue a career in the culinary arts. I thought the way Lee handled all of the restaurant stuff was on point. No matter what happens or what choices West makes, Tristan always supports him and is very perceptive about his boundaries. Both are well constructed characters who are relatable and their decisions and thought processes made sense given their individual histories which is something I appreciate.

Since we got the benefit of both of their perspectives it's clear they are falling for each other and I liked that they sort of energize the other. Tristan starts boating again and West asks to be taught to swim and things just click between them. They have fun together and the trust builds gradually. I'm not really certain what things they have in common for the long-term but I still bought into them as a couple.

And I liked the realism that Lee brought with Tristan's connection to his husband's family and how they will always be important to him as well as some of the interactions with the other guys from Doggie Styles. I'm assuming Elijah's book is next and I'd be interested in reading it if only to see Elijah kick Stewart and his controlling ass to the curb.

Recommend to slow burn, hurt/comfort lite and/or contemporary romance fans.

A review copy was provided.

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