Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Published: May 23, 2014
ISBN: 978 1 62798 890 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M, BDSM
Book Format: E-book
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by: Helena Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Barrett has returned to the UK after living in the States since he was eleven. Because he is trying to escape painful memories he does what he can to keep busy. With a full-time job as a copywriter and a part-time stint at a strip club he has most of his hours filled. He is missing something though, something he finds in Collars & Cuffs, a BDSM club. He may be the youngest Dom at only 29, he is also among the most experienced. His busy life should be enough to keep his mind in the present and away from the pain he’s trying to escape. But, as Andrew soon discovers, the past is hard to ignore and has a habit of popping up when least expected.
Gareth Michaels hasn’t returned to Collars & Cuffs since he had his heart broken four years ago. For four years he’s stayed away from commitment and dating while the hurt lingered in his heart. When he sees his dancer colleague Andrew enter Collars & Cuffs, Gareth gathers all his courage and returns to the world he’d turned his back on only to find himself face to face with the reason he left in the first place.
As Andrew and Gareth battle with their emerging attraction to each other and the painful pasts still scarring them, there is one who is determined to do anything to make sure they’ll never find each other.
Let me start by saying I loved this book. It was well written with captivating characters and a gripping storyline. The balance between feelings, action and description was just about perfect and kept me in the story even when I wasn’t reading it.
Andrew Barrett was a wonderful and multi-layered character. He comes across as a man in charge of his life, a confident Dom fully aware of what he wants and needs until he is confronted with his painful past and the loss he’s suffered. The wonderful thing about Andrew was that the pain and confusion his past cause didn’t make him week or feeble. Quite the opposite; watching Andrew as he confronts his feelings, comes to terms with them and moves forward made him all the more likeable, strong and realistic in my eyes.
The same is true for Gareth. While he may seem quiet and even painfully shy at times, there is a depth to his feelings that delighted me and his strength and courage once he’s acknowledged his feelings left me in awe.
One or two things really made me sit up and pay attention in this book.
I have to be honest and admit that I’d never given much thought to any possible differences between hetero and M/M BDSM practices. In fact it’s fair to say I was pretty much convinced it was much of a muchness give or take one or two body parts. Andrew’s talk with his supervisor opened my eyes and has left me with quite a few things to think about and maybe even investigate.
A second thing that caught my attention was the way the dynamic between Doms and subs played out in this book. All too often it is a very black and white issue with one person being in control while the other just follows along. It only dawned on me how many angles there are to that dynamic when a character says that he wants someone as ‘his friend, lover and submissive’.
I do like it when a book opens my eyes and forces me to think.
This was one hot story as you might expect since it’s set in both a strip and a BDSM club. In fact, given the setting the author might have gotten away with wall to wall sex and relatively little story should she have chosen to do so. I’m delighted that she didn’t fall into that particular trap and had the sex serve the story rather than the other way around.
Having said all of the above there were one or two things that slowed me down while reading this book.
The first ‘issue’ is probably in large part one of my own making since this is the fourth book in a series of which I haven’t read the first three titles. The sheer number of characters in this book had me gasping for breath at times as well as scrolling back to see who exactly I was dealing with. With the majority of the story taking place either in a strip club or the BDSM club it is no mystery why there are so many people crossing the page and, if I’m honest, they did bring the story to life and made it more realistic. But, it also had me confused at times, especially with some of them having different names in different settings.
The shift to a second point of view at about 40% into the story took me by surprise too. Once the second voice started and continued it worked perfectly fine, but the first time his voice appeared I was taken aback and slightly confused about what exactly was going on.
Overall I have to say this is a fascinating and well written book that has left me with a taste for more. I’m lucky enough to have a copy of the first title in this series on my Kindle and I’ve got a feeling it won’t be long before part two and three will join it there. Here’s to yet another author I have to add to my must read list.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.