Title: Tribute Act (A Porthkennack Novel)
Author: Joanna Chambers
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 215 Pages
At a Glance: Tribute Act is equal parts sweet and angsty, with complex family dynamics which add realism and layers to Nathan and Mack’s irresistible and undeniable chemistry.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Nathan Bridges hadn’t intended to settle down in his hometown of Porthkennack—he just ended up staying after saving the family business from ruin. The truth is, Nathan can’t stop himself from stepping in when problems arise. He’s a fixer, the man everyone turns to. But even fixers can’t solve everything.
When Nathan’s sister needs an organ transplant, it’s his stepbrother, Mack, who the family turns to as Rosie’s only potential living donor. Nathan’s curiosity about the stepbrother he’s never met turns to shock when he realises that Mack is his latest—and hottest ever—one-night stand.
Nathan and Mack agree to forget their single night together, but that’s easier said than done. When Mack moves in to Nathan’s place to recuperate after surgery, it’s not just the sexual tension between them that keeps growing. Against all the odds, and despite Mack’s wariness of intimacy, the two men grow close enough that Nathan begins to wonder what it would take to mend the rift that’s kept Mack and his father estranged for over a decade . . . and whether Mack might consider staying with Nathan in Porthkennack for good.
Review: Joanna Chambers’ Tribute Act is the fourth book I’ve read in Riptide’s Porthkennack collection, and it also marks the fourth book in this ~verse I loved spending a little time with. This is such a great assortment of authors and characters and stories, and Tribute Act is another terrific addition to it.
If you aren’t familiar with the collection, it’s a mix of historical and contemporary romances all set in the fictional Cornish town of Porthkennack. Each book can be read independently and in no particular order, so the town itself is the only recurring element. This book marks Chambers’ second contribution to the collection—the first, A Gathering Storm, a historical I loved immensely—and is a family drama that underscores a complicated romantic buildup between Nathan Bridges and the stranger he meets one night in a bar.
Nathan is a romantic at heart. Not much for one-night stands, he’s always been a relationship kind of guy. For him, sex is a connection rather than just a means to scratch a proverbial itch, but a long ago promised night out with his friend Gav soon brings Nathan face-to-face with a man who makes him want to bend his rules and spend the night having sex with no strings.
Mack MacKenzie is a drifter. His father hasn’t been a part of his life since a falling out when Mack was just a teenager, following his mother’s death. The fight, abandonment and its resulting emotional scars left a feral Mack in its wake—distant and unwilling to invest in anything resembling vulnerability or commitment. Being tied down to one place or one person isn’t in his wheelhouse of life goals, and the word family is just that, a word rather than a concept Mack can relate to in an appreciable way. This is the heart and soul of his character—Mack doesn’t do attachments, obligations or long-term anything.
When Mack shows up in Porthkennack to help a half-sister he wasn’t aware even existed, he and Nathan are shook to discover they share a connection, and that their one-off has just become a lot more complicated than either of them could have possibly imagined. I loved this added bit of conflict, which bolstered what could have been just another ‘strangers passing in the night’ romance, and gave it enough of a unique edge to keep the story from feeling rehashed or too familiar.
The turmoil the family was enduring, the reason Mack ended up in Porthkennack to begin with, the unresolved anger over his father’s abandonment, their inability to communicate, was all integrated into the story seamlessly alongside what was building between Nathan and Mack. And, I love the subtle metaphor of Nathan feeding Mack affection and caring in small, unobtrusive bites so Mack wouldn’t run scared. Nathan was nurturing Mack’s soul at the same time as he was helping to heal Mack’s body, and it gave solid proof of Nathan’s tendency to be a carer, often at the expense of his own needs, and I felt a huge amount of empathy for Nathan’s longing for something Mack wasn’t willing to give him. Or, wasn’t able to express wanting because the desire to stay in one place, maybe trying to put down roots, was such a foreign concept to Mack.
The title of the book was a nice reveal, and I love the way it drew a direct correlation between Mack and his father rather than between Nathan and Mack. We get lots of second chance stories in the romance genre, but it’s not often that we get to see the chance for redemption happen outside of the romantic arc. It added to the heartwarming family feel of the reading in a welcome way, the holiday touch only increasing that warmth and upping my affection for the characters.
Tribute Act is equal parts sweet and angsty, with complex family dynamics which add realism and layers to Nathan and Mack’s irresistible and undeniable chemistry. While Gav was more a vehicle to bring Nathan and Mack into each other’s proximity than a fully realized character, the rest of the supporting cast shored up the storyline so well. Joanna Chambers is always a go-to author for me, and she hasn’t let me down yet.
You can buy Tribute Act here:
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