Man Hands: A Gripping (Groping?) Romance.

I know, I’ve been reviewing some pretty hard to read stuff, lately. Almost no romance. Honestly, I just couldn’t get into it. Unless a friend wrote it, I mostly ignored it in favor of books on social justice, books on repairing the country, hopeful books, and organizing/planning/action tomes. Today, I’m reviewing Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby and making BANG! BANG! Tofu because I’m tired. I’m just, tired.

Also, I ended up reading a lot of Charles Dickens — again — because, fuck, that man knew how to write in times of omg, holy fucking shit, what is going on in our country? People are dying on the streets and motherfucking rich people are worried about Jarndycian inheritances. It gave me hope, because things changed after he wrote about them. 

Honestly, though, the elections of Ralph Northam, Phil Murphy, Doug Jones, and the estimated TWENTY FIVE FUCKING THOUSAND WOMEN RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN 2018 has me dancing. It has me energized. An energized Cat is a happy Cat. A happy Cat is a swoony Cat. A swoony Cat reads romance novels because she thinks that the world might not always be this awful. Yes, things aren’t going to be easy, but I am strengthening my ovarian fortitude for the fight.

“Ride on! Rough-shod if need be, smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all obstacles, and win the race!” (David Copperfield)

My first forays back into romance — the tip-toe of just the tip, as it were, mostly consisted of quick, ridiculous romances about firemen and marines prepared to do all manner of hosing and firing. They were fun, but nothing to write home (or here) about. In fact, I definitely wouldn’t write home about them. My aunt might be petrified with what I was reading. I mean, she makes cookies and spends hours on the phone with octogenarian rabbis. It would scandalize her. I’d definitely write my platonic soul mate, though. I’d use really descriptive language and emojis. Possibly gifs. Because I’m hilarious like that.

Ask me about the kind of gifs I send my husband at inappropriate times just because it makes me laugh. It’s no wonder they love me.

When I picked up Man Hands, I preordered it due to the title and cover. It looked cute, and I’m super partial to Seinfeld. I’d read, reviewed, and really liked previous Sarina Bowen books, and Tanya Eby was as of yet unknown to me. I also like trying new things. (Nothing crazy. No cotton candy flavored lubricant or voting Republican or anything. I have some restraint — and sensitive skin. Republicans rub me the wrong way. It chafes.)

I swallowed that book whole. Let me set the scene. The weather was shite cold, I was comfy in my pajamas, coffee at hand, tea at the ready, wine definitely corked for later. The husband and offspring were playing some game on the iPads that required all their attention. I had my cats running about and my best basic bitch wagging her tail at my feet. I ran an easy ten that morning, and I was sunken into my bed with my iPad ready to go.

Lunch passed. Dinner I think was ordered. It was probably sushi. It might’ve been pizza. Chinese is also a possibility. I had tea and toast while I read about Brynn and Tom’s escapades. The outside world was as if nothing. It was glorious.

Here’s the blurb.

BRYNN
At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.
But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.
Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.
Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM
All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.
I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.
But I will find her.

Something you might not know about me is that as a teenager and budding young adult, I was a Trading Spaces fanatic. My high school BFF and I used to watch it religiously every Saturday night, and also every single day after school. We were both ass over teakettle in love with Ty Pennington, the construction worker cum crazy man about scenes. Looking back, I’m not 100 percent sure what drew us to him, but there is one thing that will still get me, and those are his sexy as fuck hands and body built for…hammering. Sure, I might want to gag him, or question every shady decision made in his name on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but a little tackle and pound? If I wasn’t married…

Man Hands played right into my “sexy builder” fantasies I’ve harbored for *cough* a few *cough* years. Tom was the kind of sexysweetstrong protagonist that makes your heart flutter in more ways than one. The chemistry between Tom and Brynn is atomic.

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More than that, though, it’s just a really good story. Brynn is all of us, y’all. She’s been burned by a douche, and is really leary of a guy, even if he sets her bunny panties up in flames. The romance between them is contrived at first (by them), but the interplay between characters, and their unique place in the world never is. The contrivance allows them to sink into reality in a way neither character would do if not in such a box.

The book was “I can tell I’ve given birth vaginally because I’m laughing so hard I peed” funny. While I love Sarina Bowen novels, it’s clear that she just fucking works it with Tanya Eby, because, though it’s so much different from her other books, it’s just as romantic, but the humor? Holy snopes, duderinos. It’s on-par (humor wise) with Lh Cosway or Penny Reid–but with 100 percent more dick jokes. We all know I love a dick joke.

After reading it, I was offered a review copy of the audiobook. HOLY HUMMUS, FALAFRIENDS, IT WAS LUKE DANIELS ON THE RECORDING. If you’re new here, he’s one of my favorite narrators! I mean, he has his own .gif!

There’s only one other person to have that, and it’s my platonic soul mate! It’s super spesh. I mean, I’ve shown my boobs to more strangers than people for whom I make gifs. Brynn’s chapters were narrated by Erin Mallon, and she was just a gem. Her voice is very soothing. I’d totes listen to any meditation she recorded. (I have a thing for my meditation app. I rank the voices from “pleasant” to “powerful” and save the “soothy secksi” voices for when I can fall asleep after listening. She’s more secksi and less soothy, so she’d have to be saved for when I’m feeling heteroflexible.) Luke Daniels is wonderful as usual, and I was surprised to find his voice so much deeper in this recording. Y’all, Tom is a baritone and I didn’t hate it.

Five Hammers All Around. Audio and Words on ze pages.

And now for something completely different. For this book, there was really only one thing I could make. With all that hammering, I immediately thought of Bonefish Grill’s famous Bang Bang Shrimp. Well, I don’t eat shrimp, but I do like to bang, so,

Bang! Bang! Tofu

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Bang! Bang! Tofu
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What Goes In?

  • 1, 16 oz block firm tofu cubed in 1/2" cubes drained for just a few seconds, you want it wet. *TWHS
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • oil for cooking
  • for the dressing
  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce

Avengers, Assemble!

  1. heat 1" of oil in a cast iron skillet
  2. toss tofu in corn starch and salt
  3. fry on all sides for 2 minutes a side
  4. whisk together all sauce ingredients
  5. toss tofu with enough sauce to coat and chopped tofu
  6. serve with rice and cilantro
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http://readereater.com/2018/01/22/bang-bang-tofu/

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