Book Reviews

SKIN AND BONES (London Love 3) by Sophia Soames

Genre Gay / Asexual/Aromantic / Contemporary / Romance / Drama
Reviewed by ParisDude on 14-February-2024

Book Blurb

Hugo Burrows has life under control. He has a decent job, a long-term relationship and a flat in Canary Wharf. It’s all under control. It’s just becoming a little problematic trying to hold everything together. Keeping the bruises on his skin hidden away. A smile plastered on his face. Controlling the calories he allows himself to consume. And now his boss is on his back with too many questions, and the grumpy French head chef keeps staring at him like he’s a freak or something.

Everything is under control. It has to be.

Benjamin Desjardins may be the head chef at the Clouds Hotel, but he definitely hasn’t got anything under control. His relationship with his best friend is crumbling, and simply turning up for work seems to automatically cause never-ending chaotic disasters. Yet there is something about the new concierge that has crawled straight under his prickly skin.

Ben doesn’t need more complications in his life. In fact, the last thing he needs is to inconveniently, and reluctantly…fall in love.

 

 

Reader Advisory. This book deals the following topics: eating disorders, OCD, domestic violence and sexual assault, characters falling somewhere on the ace/grey spectrum. Please look yourself and take care if these topics could upset you. The book has high angst but low steam due to the above topics.

 

Book Review

Hugo Burrows, a young concierge in the Clouds Hotel, seems to have it all—good, boyish looks, a slim body, an engaging smile, impeccable people skills that make him so good at his job, plus a boyfriend he’s obviously very happy with. Sometimes he might be a bit nervous, and his mania of littering his workplace with crumbled-up papers makes his boss Finn grit his teeth. He also appears somewhat aloof and distant with his coworkers, but apart from that? Nothing negative to report. His colleague, head chef Benjamin Desjardins, on the other hand, is known for his excellent cooking, and that’s it. All right, he’s good-looking, in a rugged bear/rugbyplayer style. But a fulfilling private life? Conversational skills, people skills, management skills? Completely absent. When he isn’t grumpy, he’s snarky, and when he isn’t snarky, he’s taciturn. His best friend Mark, who runs the hotel’s food and beverage department, and the head of the waiting staff Mabel are the only ones who know how to deal with him.

 

But things aren’t always as they seem—still waters often run deep, after all. Sometimes, it only takes one event out of the ordinary to make façades crack and whole fortresses come crumbling down. That’s what happens in this story. One day, Benjamin finds Hugo in the staff changing rooms in nothing more than filthy tracksuit pants, socks, and a trenchcoat. He is covered in blood, visibly has a broken arm, and his reactions show all the signs of extreme trauma. Who hurt him so badly? Why would he refuse to go see a doctor? How to deal with this situation? The head chef is at his wit’s end. Not that he thinks he has a great deal of wits to work with, for starters. Yet he knows that he wants, he needs to help this gorgeous young man in distress, whatever the cost for his carefully constructed and calibrated life…

 

I cannot go deeper into the story because to tell more would be to spill it all. ‘Skin and Bones’ is not your run-of-the-mill romance, that much is sure. I’m lucky I’m not triggered by most serious issues, because those two men have loads of them. Each one hides a pretty complicated inner life behind their impenetrable exteriors, and scarce are the people who know about them. A brain injury dating back to younger years, shame and guilt linked to one’s asexuality, eating disorders, OCDs, domestic violence one dares not speak of… It takes a skillful writer to tackle these issues in an emphatic, caring way, and Sophia is the one who pulls it off amazingly. I was so absorbed in my read that more than once I almost missed my metro station during my daily commute, and I was tempted to carry on reading even when I had sat down at my desk.

 

The book, despite its sombre content and the particular issues it talks about, isn’t all dark. And I found I could relate to both main characters, who carry the story alternately, telling it from their point of view, even though I never experienced first-hand any of their problems. In fact, what makes them so endearing, and what makes the book nigh unputdownable, is their humanity. Both are overwhelmed by life, which is something many of us, I’m sure, can understand and identify with. They try to keep things under control, but honestly, how much can we all control in our lives? Not that much. Add to that the little grains of hope and love that Sophia plants early on in the plot, watch how she fertilizes and waters them from paragraph to paragraph, and you’ll be swept away as I was by the beauty of this quaint relationship, where the other’s weaknesses and flaws become the ground for each character’s growth.

 

Highly recommended read. Check the trigger warnings, however.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the author. This book has been provided by the author for the purpose of a review.

 

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 389 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 31-January-2024
Price $4.99 ebook, $15.99 paperback, $18.99 hardcover
Buy Link https://www.amazon.com/SKIN-BONES-London-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B0CLRXYLR2