Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
This book made me destroy my process. When I’m going to review a book, I open up a notepad so while I’m reading I can put down all the important names, things I like and don’t like, and my feelings regarding what I read. Usually, by the time I’m done reading the book, the review just needs to come together with connector sentences. I had that happening until the last 25 percent of the book when I realized I was going to have to trash the whole thing and start over. The review was not looking good up until that time and then, I got the point (I hope); however, there are things I still think might have been better executed.
The story is about an established couple, who after a year together start on a journey of adding kink to their love life. Tom is a prosecutor who met his boyfriend Gage, a police detective, at work. Much is made of Tom being an experienced dom and switch. Gabe is the bisexual, widowed vanilla guy in this scenario. I like how a few pages in, I knew everything I need to know about everyone involved, just from a natural sounding conversation instead of an info dump. Having said that, it does seem strange that Tom hasn’t really shared anything about his sexual history with Gage until one of his colleagues says something.
This is erotica, so don’t expect a lot of plot. Most of the book just moves them from one scene to another. The scenes focus on the actual descriptions of the various positions or tools so they aren’t even as erotic as they could be. In fact, many of them are upsetting as one thing after another goes wrong with each scene. Gabe is excited but unsure and yet when given complete control, sinks into it, at odds with the blushing novice of the previous scene. This really wouldn’t have worked without them trusting each other so well already. That is why it doesn’t make sense how Tom gets injured, especially when much is made of his previous experience later. Also, since we are getting Gabe’s POV, I’m not sure how he knows how to use the equipment and what to expect about how Tom’s reactions to bondage are going to go. Their second scene is shibari, in multiple patterns, with Gabe using instructions on his phone with no prior indication of Gabe practicing. No, that is just not believable even if there is a nod to acknowledging it isn’t.
Apparently, we missed Gabe’s first time submitting to Tom altogether, which could have been quite interesting psychologically and was a missed opportunity for some emotional depth. That might be optimistic, since the depth at that point seems to just be them calling each other baby, angel, gorgeous, babydoll, and saying I love you often. I was not feeling it. The author skips all of Gabe’s training as a sub, so it’s difficult to gauge the time frame of this book.
Since Tom is into exhibitionism, Gabe secures an invitation to an exclusive BDSM club, because Tom was well known in the scene at one time. After an intense scene, they wander the club instead of going home afterwards and Gabe is thrown into a situation that triggers him, then he has sub drop. So far, I was not impressed with Tom as either a sub, nor as a dom, who didn’t take care of Gabe properly after his first intense public scene. Then, in the next scene Gabe gets injured so I am really frustrated by now. The scene after that Gabe talks about gagging Tom, putting a vibrator in him while he is in bondage and going to sleep. That is also a no for me, especially when he is not in the proper mindset to do a scene at all after a traumatic day at work. At least he realizes it, but that is another scene gone really wrong. At this point, I am wondering if the authors are writing a what not to do manual.
Yet, it also doesn’t really work as a study of a couple exploring their kinky side together because we miss so much of their journey, it’s difficult to be emotionally invested. Having the POV be all over the place, contributed to that. By the time I actually feel the connection between the two of them, the book is almost over. The most erotic scene in the book at that point is when they are not kinky at all.
The scenes actually work better when Gabe is the dom for some reason. I’m not always a fan of accents in books, so it would be fine without the phonetics. I think there should have been more about them as people, or as a couple, other than sex scenes. If the goal was to show all the mistakes they make and how they grow over time, that could have been shown with practicing with equipment, taking classes, or other ways that were less stressful for the reader than having all the scenes end with one of them distressed, injured, or showing bad judgment. In the end, it is quite an effective reminder that most of what you read, where the dom is seemingly perfect at everything and a mind reader…that’s crap. It takes a long time, trial and error, and commitment from both parties, especially when there is experimentation, to get good at doing scenes. All doms and subs are different, will react differently, and just learning one person really well is a challenge.
The final scene is the one that goes as planned, is erotic, and shows the love they have for each other where it is written so it’s easier to connect to it. I just wish it hadn’t been quite as upsetting to get there, but then imagine being the one these things happen to, or the one who did them to the person they love. Everyone makes mistakes, but when it involves unintentionally hurting someone, or being hurt, imagine the trust and love it takes to keep coming back again and again. So, I hope that was what the book was trying to show and I have rated it accordingly.
The cover art is done by Written Ink Designs. The picture lets you know that the content of the book involves kink. I think the title is layered with meaning for the story.
Published September 21st 2018 by JMS Books LLC