Publisher: Torquere Press
Date published: February 2013
Genre: M/M contemporary romance; light BDSM
Book format: E-book
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by: Keldon
Former swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Justin Pattern has been retired for four years—four years of working at a dead-end job and loneliness, lacking a sense of attachment to life. At age twenty-seven, it seems like the best years of his life have already happened. On the Fourth of July, drunk and depressed, Justin contemplates attempting a jump from his second floor balcony into the complex’s swimming pool, and makes an attempt to call his former coach, a man who hasn’t taken Justin’s calls for four years.
Aquatics coach Chris Jarvis turned his back on his prize swimmer when Justin retired, telling himself it was for Justin’s own good. Moving straight from coach and athlete into an intimate relationship would’ve been taking advantage of Justin—right? When Justin calls, Chris sees a world of possibilities, involving a whole new way for him to relate to Justin.
In this new relationship—a Dom/sub relationship—Coach’s role changes in name only. He continues to run the show, calls all the shots inside the bedroom and out, and basically picks up where he left off. Justin, now twenty-seven, can benefit from some structure in his life, but Chris sticks Justin into the sub role without so much as a discussion about the lifestyle, assuming it’s what Justin needs and wants. Chris has Justin choose a safe word during their first encounter together, letting Justin choose “redlight,” the same word he’d used for “serious problem, not just complaining” when he was a swimmer. One more way of infantilizing Justin, who comes off as a weak Omega to Chris’s pushy Alpha.
From there on out, the book is largely a series of sexual encounters controlled by Chris. None is particularly distinct from any other in act or location. There are some toys involved, mild bondage, and mild spanking. There are no secondary characters, and no subplots; the main plot itself is difficult to discern, other than Justin returns to being Chris’s boy, and Chris has a live-in love interest. The main source of conflict is over “the rules.” Justin never does stand up for himself, preventing the story from having any major conflicts or black moment. Chris’s character has no wants or needs other than to control Justin’s life.
Ordinarily, I enjoy Sean Michael’s work very much. This came off as a hurried attempt to produce an Olympic-themed story, lacking Sean’s usual character and plot development. It might have worked better condensed into an erotic short story instead of a novel.
This is an objective review