Saturday, March 1, 2014

BONDS OF DENIAL by Lynda Aicher

Publisher:  Carina Press
Published:   03/02/2014
Genre:   Erotic Romance M/M
Book format:  Kindle
Obtained via:    NetGalley
Reviewed by name and email address:  Helena

Rating: 5

When Rockford Fielding was 14 years old, his father caught him kissing another boy. The punishment his career military parent inflicted on Rock was enough to have him deny his feelings for the next twenty years. Watching Carter Montgomery on the security screens in The Den force Rock’s repressed feelings to the surface. Unable to deny his true desires any longer he hires the gorgeous escort only to discover that the habits of a lifetime don’t change during one three hour encounter.

Carter has worked for the escort agency for almost fourteen years. Four months away from the end of his second contract he has every intention of turning his back on the only career he’s ever known. But the closer he gets to the start of his new life and the deeper his feelings for Rock grow, the more his insecurities catch up with him. Caught between lack of confidence in his own abilities to make money in any other way and the certainty that Rock will end up leaving him because of his shameful profession, the escort starts undermining the budding relationship.

As the two man move from paid encounters to simple dates the mutual attraction becomes undeniable. But with both of them facing insecurities and fear their instincts to avoid complications and possible heartbreak may be stronger than their need to be together.

When I finished my review of ‘Bonds of Hope’ I mentioned I really wanted to read Rock’s story. The tough and standoffish man in charge of security at The Den had intrigued me more with every subsequent ‘Wicked Play’ title. Sometimes wishes come true and this one not only got fulfilled, it also exceeded all my expectations and hopes. In fact, I think Rock and Carter’s story is my favourite in this series so far.

From the very start of the book it was impossible not to fall a little bit in love with both Rock and Carter. The courage it takes for Rock to, after 34 years of denial, at last acknowledge his feelings and explore his gay nature is astounding and Lynda Aicher does a wonderful job describing the struggle inside this man. The conflict between his attraction to Carter and his need to explore that feeling, and the shame and fear he experiences just thinking about the fact that he actually is attracted to another man was both powerful and heartbreaking. Carter’s patience with the man who doesn’t seem to be able to admit to his wants and needs was tender and beautiful even before they exchanged their paid encounters for simple dates.

There’s so much angst in this story. We’re 26% into it, watching Rock’s third meeting, be it first date, with Carter before he can admit out loud, to both himself and the man he hungers for, that he is gay. But once Rock takes that first step, there is no holding him back. A weight has been lifted of his shoulders and for the first time in his life he feels as if he is allowed to be who he is.

Each step was one more away from something and closer to another. That was always true, only this was the first time he was actively looking forward to where he was going.” - Rock

Carter’s character is equally beautiful. When we meet him we’re introduced to a confident man, not ashamed of what he does for a living and compassionate enough to take the time it takes for Rock to come to terms with his needs. It is only as the story unfolds and Rock and Carter get closer that the escort’s insecurities surface. Fourteen years in the business have left their mark. Carter may claim to be unashamed of his work he is not sure he is able to live without it. What is more, he can’t help being afraid that sooner rather than later Rock will leave him because of it. He knows that good things don’t last for people like him and it isn’t long before he is pushing the man he is falling for away, convinced that it is better to reject than to be rejected.

I loved when the roles reversed. Rock, his decision made had no doubts and was prepared to burn his ships behind him if that was what it took to live the life he was meant to live with the man he has fallen for. When Carter’s insecurities threaten to tear them apart it is Rock who has the patience and courage to do what is necessary to proof that his love is real, that he has confidence in his lover and wants to spend the rest of his life with him.

“Thank you”, he mumbled. “For what?” “Holding me”. “Anytime”. Rock said, his arms cinching tighter. “Anytime.”

The lengths Rock goes to go to in order to proof both his willing embrace of his true nature and his love for Carter had me reading with tears in my eyes.

“I’ll always come back for you. Always.” – Rock

Tears that returned when, at long last, Carter was able to believe his lover’s feelings and commitment.

“God, I love you. I don’t know how I got you, but I am never pushing you away again.” – Carter

While this series may be set around the owners of a BDSM club, this book doesn’t contain any elements of Domination and submission. And this story didn’t lack anything as a result. In fact, throwing the BDSM dynamic into this story on top of the angst and the M/M story-line would probably have been overkill. This was a perfect read; fantastic characters, a wonderful romance, a captivating and believable story and lots of realistic angst. I really couldn’t ask for more.

The knowledge that we’re nearing the end of this series leaves me kind of sad. I will miss these characters, their friendships and loyalty and, most of all, the wonderful stories. Thankfully there are two more “Wicked Play” books to come before I have to face that moment. I’ll be first in line to get my hands on them as soon as they become available.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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