Rating: 5 stars out of 5
I highly doubt I can do justice to this story in a simple review. In one word: phenomenal. I listened to the audio version narrated by John Solo so much of my praise is due directly and indirectly to his outstanding narration.
On the surface, this is the story of River, an ER physician who’s just lost his husband to a fellow doctor and is struggling to come to terms with his own identity. Among his issues, besides being devastated by his husband’s infidelity, is his failure to be able to have penetrative sex and, in fact, his frequent failure to achieve an erection. Add to that the stresses of taking graveyard shift in the ER, which he’s chosen to do to avoid his ex who has day shift, and he’s just a powder keg waiting to go off. The unlucky victim of his latest blowup is the hospital pharmacist, Phil. But Phil doesn’t just stand still and take verbal abuse. He shows River his own errors, and ultimately not only does River back down, but he later seeks Phil out to apologize, something unheard of among that hospital’s physicians.
What he learns is that Phil is interested in him, but Phil doesn’t do regular relationships. He only does domestic servitude, and he never reacts emotionally—neither to sex nor to situations where others might expect some reciprocation.
Below the surface story lies the true depth found in this book (pun intended). It depicts an emotional, often painful journey to discovery for both River and Phil. This journey encompasses River’s acceptance of Phil’s domination, Phil’s own struggles with deeply buried emotions, the turmoil and upheaval of having River’s estranged husband hound him constantly to sign the divorce papers, and River’s deep-seated issues surrounding his twin’s death and his subsequent emotional separation from his family. Over and above all that, Phil’s grandfather, Pops, is in an extended care facility on the other side of the Denver metro area and suffers from dementia. Phil visits him weekly and loves him a great deal though he finds it difficult to express how deeply he cares for the man. Pops inadvertently plays a role in helping River discover some of the joy he felt in his childhood, when camping and fishing with his family, and that joy splashes over into a ripple effect that encompasses Phil.
There are appearances by Warren and Taylor, from Trailer Trash, and other members of the Heretic Dom’s Club, primarily Gray and Charlie. Each of these men is developing as a strong, supportive character in these stories, and I hope each gets his own love someday. For River and Phil, the struggle is long and real and fraught with undermining from coworkers, a theft from the hospital pharmacy, and an ultimatum by River’s ex who throws a major monkey wrench into River’s new developing relationship. The audio is over fourteen wonderful hours of pure entertainment. Compelling, riveting, dramatic, completely engrossing, I was literally unable to stop listening except for time out to recharge my cordless headphones and to sleep (but only one night because this book deserved my devotion for two solid days.)
I highly recommend this to anyone remotely interested in D/s relationships, with a focus on domestic servitude, and those who enjoy a long, slow journey to a highly rewarding destination. And most definitely, get the audio. It’s pure listening pleasure.
Cover art is dramatic and pulls your eye towards the book. Works.
14 hrs 20 mins
Audible Audio, 15 pages
Published August 13th 2018 by Marie Sexton (first published June 25th 2018)
Original TitleTerms of Service
SeriesThe Heretic Doms Club #2
settingColorado (United States)