Review: The Roommate Situation by Zoe X. Rider

RoomateTitle & Author: The Roommate Situation by Zoe X. Rider
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages: 330

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

College freshman Shane Hahn finds himself unexpectedly shuffled to a new dorm room–which is fine by him, but his over-involved mother takes one look at toothpick-chewing, motorcycle-riding Derek McClain, his new roommate, and gets on the phone with the school. The school requires that Shane be the one to file the room-change paperwork, but Shane’s reluctant.

He’s attracted to Derek’s independence, even though that independence means Derek has to pay his own way through college, which he does by making leather products (you know: belts, wallets…bondage gear) and selling it online. Shane isn’t even allowed to work while he’s in school, much less join a band, which is what he really wants to do with his life. Unfortunately, his parents are holding his guitar hostage until he can prove he’s taking his future seriously.

When he decides he needs a way to come up with cash–the kind his parents won’t find out about–so he can buy a guitar his parents can’t take away from him, he turns to Derek with what sounds like a win-win solution: he’ll model bondage gear for Derek’s online store photos, Derek will get more sales, and Shane will get a cut. The one thing he doesn’t factor into his plan is the giddy stomach-flip feeling Derek McClain causes whenever he walks in the room–and what that might mean for them when Derek starts locking leather cuffs on his wrists.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed this one.

The relationship between Derek and Shane was strong and the slow-build from tentative overtures of friendship to lovers to being in love was utterly believable. There was also some decent character development. Both characters felt like your genuine ‘every man’ – like the guys that lived down the hall from you in the dorms, or sit next to you in class, or pass you in the hall at a party – and it was nice to see their growth over the course of the book (particularly that of Shane). Also, the small dose of kink that Rider threw in was somehow sweet and innocent and honest; it felt completely natural for both of these guys to explore these different sides to their personalities and sexuality while in college.

One aspect of the book that didn’t hugely thrill me was that after about 200 pages I found the minutiae of college life and the mundane nature of some of the conversations to get a little tedious. I’ve been there, done that – three times (but who’s counting?) – and I know these conversations by heart already. I’m over them. Let’s sing a new song already!

Still, I think the biggest obstacle to my enjoyment of this book was that the focus was split pretty evenly between Shane’s relationship with Derek, Shane’s relationship with his parents (particularly his sMother), and Shane’s journey of self-discovery. Personally, I would have preferred a little less of the parental pressures and a little more outright romance in my romance novel – just a few more outright declarations, sweet nothings, or casually affectionate gestures to lighten my heart. But that’s entirely a personal preference; you might find it to have the perfect balance.

Definitely worth a read, but it wouldn’t make the top of my recommendation lists.

My Rating:

3 Smooch

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Spotlight: Loser Takes All by Kora Knight

Loser Takes All Part 1Title & Author: Loser Takes All by Kora Knight
Series: Up-Ending Tad: A Journey of Erotic Discovery #1
Release Date: September 5, 2014

Publisher: Self-published
Length: 63 pages

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Tad’s weekend started out like any other; hitting a college frat party with a handful of buddies. But just as the evening hits its peak, things get up-ended fast. Ditched by his drunken, trolling friends, Tad winds up getting hustled by three jocks playing poker. Now he’s forced to pay his dues in the most outlandish of ways; accepting a couple broken bones or spending an hour with his victors’ favorite flogger, Scott. But the guy’s tantalizing torture quickly proves to be the least of Tad’s worries… and the kickoff to a night of raw, shocking lust.

Experience the graphic, minute-by-minute account of that hour spent at the hands of Tad’s insatiable tormentor. Addicting chemistry lights the stage as Scott ignites Tad’s reluctant desires into a frenzy of forbidden need.

My Thoughts:

“You’re a fucking perv.”

Scott laughed. “You have no idea. But don’t worry. I’m a fun perv. You’ll like what I do to you.”

Boy, did I ever!

Okay, so the novella’s premise is a little ludicrous – I’ll give you that – but I’m going to overlook that fact (and you should too!), because this book was HOT. Like, have your honey or your favourite battery-operated boyfriend on standby levels of hot. 😉

I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on Volume 2, which is set to be released October 8, 2014.

My Rating:

1 Smooch3 SmoochHalf

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About the Author:

Kora Knight is a woman of mystery. No, really. A new author, Kora is too busy writing sexy morsels of porny perfection to write an “About the Author” blurb for social media or her books, so I’ve got nothin’. But if you want to connect with her (read: gush about all the dirty things her book has you fantasizing about happening to Grey Shirt Guy), check out the links below:

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8529860.Kora_Knight 
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorkoraknight/timeline

Review: Mark Cooper versus America by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock

Mark Cooper versus AmericaTitleMark Cooper versus America
AuthorLisa Henry & J.A. Rock
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Loose ID
Pages: 273
Read: April 1-2, 2014

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Mark Cooper is angry, homesick, and about to take his stepdad’s dubious advice and rush Prescott College’s biggest party fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi. Greek life is as foreign to Aussie transplant Mark as Pennsylvania’s snowstorms and bear sightings. So, when the fraternity extends Mark a bid, Mark vows to get himself kicked out by the end of pledge period. But then he’s drawn into Alpha Delt’s feud with a neighboring fraternity.

Studious Deacon Holt is disappointed to learn Mark’s pledging Alpha Delt, his fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa’s sworn enemy. Mark is too beautiful for Deacon to pass up an invitation for sex, but beyond sex, Deacon’s not sure. He wants a relationship, but a difficult family situation prevents him from pursuing anything beyond his studies.

Mark and Deacon’s affair heats up as the war between their fraternities escalates. They explore kinks they didn’t know they had while keeping their liaison a secret from their brothers. But what Romeo and Juliet didn’t teach these star-crossed lovers is how to move beyond sex and into a place where they share more than a bed. That’s something they’ll have to figure out on their own—if the friction between their houses, and between Mark and America, doesn’t tear them apart.

My Thoughts:

This was bloody damn well good.

It made me happy, it made me annoyed, it made me awww, and, most importantly of all, it made me hot.

It’s all about how angry bunny with an Australian accent meets older (not by much) geeky American bartender and how they become Romeo and Juliet as they are a part of opposing fraternities (never frat) who find that they have really kinky sides and decide to explore it and along the way fall in love.

Trust me when I say the book is a million times better than the bastardization of a synopsis that I just gave you.

I mean, this book has got things that I myself, not just Mark or Deacon, didn’t know that I would ever find hot.

Like cross dressing. Not hardcore cross dressing, but definite I’m a man, but I’m totally rocking this French maid outfit . . . kind of thing. And spanking. Dear God, as many BDSM books as I’ve read so far (which, to be fair, hasn’t been an overabundance, but still) where spankings definitely take place, I have never been turned on by spanking as much as I was in this book. I don’t know what it was that made the spanking so different in this book, but whatever it was, I appreciated it a lot. (And when I say I appreciated it, I mean I drooled/foamed at the mouth over it.)

This was the first book that I read from the partnership of Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, and it won’t be my last. Their writing is superb, not a single word felt forced or fake or meh. I haven’t read a J.A. Rock book in which she is the sole author of, but even still, it was impossible for me to be able to point out a single scene, line, or character and think, “Oh, I know who wrote that,” because of the fact that they flow so wonderfully together.

That’s a beautiful partnership.

That’s fantastic writing.

While I pretty much loved everything about this book (except Bengal. Bengal must die. Bengal must die painfully.)–the cross dressing, the spanking, the Australian accent and the cute way that Mark thinks it’s okay to spell words with ‘u’s that they don’t belong in and saying ‘arse’–the best aspects to this book, the things that drove the book the most for me, was the relationship between Mark and Deacon, how relatable they both were, and how they never apologized for liking what they liked.

The ‘relationship’ between Mark and Deacon doesn’t begin immediately, it grows from an acquaintance to a blowjob behind the bar where Deacon works to friendship to discovering not just each other but even deeper facets of themselves together to, finally, the relationship. The arc between acquaintances to he’s mine, and I’m his is genuine and real which makes it all the more plausible that Mark and Deacon are real people and Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock are deeply into voyeurism. (I kid . . . or do I?)

It takes a very confident person to never apologize for being the way they are and for liking what they like. Mark and Deacon? Yeah, they don’t apologize for any of it: the cross dressing, the spanking, the desire to feel used, to feel dirty, but to never feel less than, and the fisting. Yes. You read that right. The fisting. To realize that is something you want, you got to know yourself. Mark and Deacon, though they have their moments of self doubt–everyone does, after all–know themselves.

Mark and Deacon are so relatable for me because, while our situations aren’t the same, I’ve found myself in the same places that they both found themselves in. I was able to connect with them and not just see them as figments of these authors’ minds, but as two people. And when that happens, you know you’re reading something good.

The moment characters become people is the moment everything becomes real.

Mark Cooper versus America is real.

Quotable Quotes:

“Because Clare had never let the fact that Mark didn’t have a father in his life get in the way of sex education. She’d been showing Mark how to roll condoms onto bananas long before he’d known it was other bananas he was interested in.”

My Rating:

1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 SmoochHalf

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Review: Legally Bound by J.R. Gray

Legally Bound CoverTitle & AuthorLegally Bound by J.R. Gray
Series: Bound #1
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Pages: 220

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

The last thing Daniel, a hard-working public defender, expected to see the morning after a one night stand was his hook-up staring back at him from the wrong side of the law. Assigned to work his case, Daniel vows to keep things professional with Rafael but has a hard time controlling his craving for dominance, the control, and the connection they shared. Rafael, a paid Dominant in the Chicago underworld, has been dealing with a cop problem for far too long. Used to sex with no emotion, he’s entranced with Daniel’s submission, his innocence, and…could there be something more? Can Daniel clear Rafael’s name, keeping him out of jail and in his life, with the odds, a cop, and the mounting evidence against them?

Be Warned: m/m sex, BDSM, branding, flogging, caning, whipping.

My Thoughts:

*** Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. Continue reading at own risk. ***

A friend and I recently had a conversation about BDSM erotica and romance novels. Though the specifics of what turned our cranks differed somewhat, one of the things that we agreed upon was that in order for us to enjoy a novel with BDSM themes, there had to be a deep emotional connection between the main characters. For us, the power exchange between a Dom and a sub is hottest when it is based upon mutual trust, respect, understanding, and a sense of equality between partners. I want to know about the character’s emotions and motivations – why are they drawn to the lifestyle? What deep-seated need or desire does the D/s relationship fulfill for them?

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as if there was enough emotional depth in Legally Bound to make me invest in the characters or the story the way that I had hoped I would. I never felt as if the relationship between Daniel and Rafael moved beyond the lust and curiosity of a one night stand into something more meaningful. Lust and hormones and curiosity can make for a steamy sex scene, I’ll give the author that, but ultimately, this lack of a deeper connection between the characters made the BDSM elements of the books feel tawdry and rushed.

In fact, parts of the author’s depiction of the BDSM lifestyle made me feel downright uncomfortable. I understand that there’s not one “right” way to explore or engage in BDSM play (nor a singular way to depict it in books), but the one thing that people seem to accept unquestioningly is that it must be safe, sane, and consensual at all times. In Legally Bound, however, Daniel and Raf not only engage in restraints, and floggings, and wax play long before they have discussed limits and safe words, but Rafael’s character admits to engaging in scenes with clients while strung out on Vicodin! Later in the book he takes a crop to King’s slave while angry and not entirely in control! That is just NOT okay.

*watches as the author throws the “Safe, Sane, Consensual” edict right out the window, pours gasoline on it, and sets it on fire.*

As for the rest of the book, I respect an author’s prerogative to make creative choices and shape a book however they see fit. I just don’t understand why anyone would set out to create the most idiotic, unethical characters on the face of the planet. Between the characters’ very relationship, the ridiculously thoughtless timing of the couple’s solicitation role play, and Daniel’s decision to confront McCoy at his home and then refuse to go to the hospital or press charges after he is brutalized, I am baffled by these characters and the decisions that they make.

(Don’t even get me started on the fact that Rafael and Daniel have sex immediately after Daniel is assaulted!)

And, before anyone gets up in arms about that last paragraph, I’ll just point out that Daniel’s disregard for his professional ethics are one of the central themes of this book (and therefore fair fame for this review) and that the author, herself, refers to Daniel’s behaviour as “idiotic” on more than one occasion.

From a technical standpoint, I didn’t find the book to be particularly well-written either. It contained a fair amount of unnecessary punctuation, orphaned words that should have been caught and removed during editing, and awkward phrasing. Choppy sentence structure and jarring transitions between characters’ thoughts and actions often left me re-reading passages to ensure that I hadn’t inadvertently skipped something (I hadn’t). Although they may bother other readers less than they did me, I found that these errors made it difficult for me to get into the groove of the book’s narrative style and ultimately made the book feel amateurish.

That said, I did find that the writing began to smooth out somewhere around the book’s midpoint. This made for a much more pleasant reading experience in the second half of the book and bodes well for the author’s future work.

The one writing quirk that I couldn’t ignore or get past was the author’s habit of referring to her characters as “the lawyer” or “the male” or “the Dominant” rather than using their names or personal pronouns. It was weirdly impersonal and made it feel as if there was a distance between the characters long after they had supposedly formed a strong emotional connection. It also put a distance between the characters and me, as a reader, which I think contributed to why I never connected with either of Daniel or Rafael.

I believe that there are plenty of readers out there that will happily overlook the aspects of Legally Bound that I took issue with. Those readers will probably find the book raw or sexy or intriguing. However, this review is about my reactions to the book, and as much as I wanted to, I just didn’t like it. 😦

My Rating:

1 SmoochHalf

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Review: Safeword by A.J. Rose

Safeword CoverTitle & Author: Safeword by A.J. Rose
Series: Power Exchange (#2)
Release Date: June 2, 2013
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press
Pages: 333 pages

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Everywhere Detective Gavin DeGrassi looks he’s reminded of his attack by the Breath Play Killer. It’s in the house he lives in with his partner and Dom, Ben Haverson. It’s in the sympathetic yet pitying looks he receives from his fellow detectives when he returns to the force after a year-long hiatus. It’s in the suffocating coddling of his entire family, and the relentless reporter demanding an exclusive of his ordeal.

Most of all, it’s in his lack of submission to Ben, who isn’t convinced Gavin’s recovered enough to trust the power exchange between them.

The miraculous recovery of two teen boys from a twisted kidnapper gives him heart, and Gavin’s determined to prove he can handle anything despite increasing strain between him and Ben, painful nightmares, and panic when anyone touches him.

But his next case is too close for comfort: a friend and colleague found raped and murdered in a fate chillingly similar to what could have been his own, and this killer isn’t stopping with one cop. As the body count rises and taunting souvenirs are being hand-delivered to Gavin, he faces a frustrating lack of leads, a crushing need to prove himself, and a sinking suspicion the imprisoned kidnapper’s reach is further than originally thought. A miasma of uncertainty and fear threaten to suffocate him when he asks a question with which he’s overwhelmingly familiar: what happens when a victim is pushed too far?

My Thoughts:

6:00 a.m.

No, that is not the ungodly hour I had to get up this morning; it’s the time that I finally made it to bed, bleary eyed and exhausted after staying up all night to finish reading A.J. Rose’s Safeword (the second installment in his Power Exchange series).

And it was so, so worth it.

Safeword picks up in the aftermath of the trauma left by the Breath Play Killer in Power Exchange and to say that it’s an unsettling place to be would be a gross understatement. Ben and Gavin have been through hell together. They’ve had their sanctuary invaded, their bodies abused, and the foundation of their relationship ripped apart. Somehow they’ve come out the other side, but that trauma is like a permanent black mark on their lives – colouring their reactions to everything that comes after.

But, as A.J. Rose said every time I railed at him via Twitter for putting some of my favourite characters through hell:

The bigger the catastrophe, the bigger the catharsis.”

And he was right.

Rose did a fucking fantastic job of showing the struggle that these characters went through during this novel. The anger, the pain, the guilt, the fear, the frustration, and the never-ending tension that stretched and stretched until you just knew something or someone was going to snap – it was all there on the page. And through all that – or, perhaps more accurately, above all that – was the love that Ben and Gavin felt for one another. I never doubted that the love was there, but the struggle was written so realistically that there were points in the novel when I worried that the characters may not recover enough to make it together. Those were the moments when my gut clenched uncomfortably and tears prickled behind my eyes. I know I’m a giant sap, but this book moved me.

As strong as Rose’s characterizations of Ben and Gavin are, the novel’s secondary characters shouldn’t be overlooked. Cole’s great and Gavin’s partner, Myah, is one of the best supporting female characters that I have come across in a long while. She’s complex, intelligent, intimidating, intensely loyal and protective. She’s also witty and thoughtful and capable. I love that she’s a compassionate human being who hasn’t let what she’s seen on the job make her jaded, but she’s also tough as nails when she needs to put scum (and homophobic a-holes) in their place. In other words, she’s an admirable character regardless of her gender (though her gender is worth noting simply because so few female characters of her depth and ability exist in the romance genre). It probably says a lot that if Myah existed in real life, I both would never want to meet her in a dark alley AND I would want to be friends with her.

In terms of the mystery at the centre of Safeword, I thought that it was extremely well done (much more complicated, unique, and realistic than the one in Power Exchange). The pace of this case was slow and the results of Ben and Myah’s legwork often frustrating and coming to nothing, but the tension and urgency were palpably building under the surface the whole time. When the serial killer is revealed and then tracked across the city, I wasn’t left yelling “it’s about damn time!” at my Kindle the way I did with Power Exchange. No, this time I was swept along for the ride, wishing I had an “oh-shit” bar to hold onto.

My only real complaint about the mystery aspect of the novel was that while I thought Rose built a plausible case for why the serial killer did what they did (and their motive seems authentic given what we knew about them), I still felt like the sexual aspects of the crimes were never fully explained to my satisfaction. Regardless, it was interesting to see how another character responded to trauma in a completely different way than Ben and Gavin did. It was like a glimpse into how Gavin’s recovery could have gone had he not had such an incredible support network or been as strong as he was.

(FYI, it is incredibly difficult to write about the serial killer without giving away major spoilers, so please excuse my vague language.)

Bottom line: I loved this book (and the series as a whole).  Power Exchange and Safeword combine cops, BDSM, sexy men who love other men, thrills and suspense, genuinely emotional moments, and a whole lot of other stuff that I love to read about all in one nearly perfect package.

So perfect that I wish that there were a third book in this series.

I know, I know – I’m being incredibly selfish. Ben and Gavin deserve to put all of the murder and mayhem behind them and enjoy their hard-won happily ever after, but my heart wants what it wants (and it wants more Ben and Gavin). They are one of my favourite couples in the MM genre, so even though I’m grateful that Rose gave these characters a satisfying end without making it into a sappy Hallmark event, I’m sad to see the last of these boys.

I guess I’ll just have to re-read it. 🙂

If you don’t pay attention to any of my other book recommendations, pay attention to this one:

Read the Power Exchange series. You won’t be sorry. 

My Rating:
2 Smooch3 Smooch

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Review: Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan

Nowhere RanchTitleNowhere Ranch
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Pages: 240
Read: January 7-8, 2014

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Roe Davis is a man who works hard, keeps to himself, and never mixes business with pleasure — until he takes a weekend away from his new job at Nowhere Ranch and runs into the owner at the only gay bar for two hundred miles. Getting involved with the boss is a bad idea, but Travis Loving is hard to say no to, especially when it turns out their kinks line up like a pair of custom-cut rails. As Loving points out, so long as this is sex on the side, no interfering with the job, they could make it work.

The truth is, there’s good reason Roe never settles down and always spends his birthdays and holidays celebrating alone. Shut out in the cold by his family years ago, Roe survived by declaring he didn’t need a home. As his affair with Loving grows into more than just sex, Roe finds out what happens when he stays put a little bit too long: the past always catches up with you. Eventually, even a loner gets lonely, and home will grow up through whatever cracks you leave open for it — even in a place called Nowhere.

My Thoughts:

I had certain preconceived ideas about what this book was going to be like, how the characters were going to act, and how the ending was going to come about. I knew that it was going to be hot, my boundaries and what I identify as my comfort zone were going to be pushed–and oh, were they ever–, and that there was a distinct possibility that I wasn’t going to like it at all.

Of course, the definition of preconceived is to have formed an idea or an opinion before having given evidence that either confirms your original thought or smashes it into a million pieces.

Surely you can guess what happened to mine.

Nowhere Ranch honestly surprised me. It is much more than just a book with characters that have sexy–and eyebrow raising–times. Its tone is natural. It doesn’t try too hard. It just is. There isn’t a single word that I felt wasn’t true. It felt to me as though Roe and Travis aren’t just characters that Heidi Cullinan had living inside her head that she decided to put on paper, but rather it felt as though they are living and Cullinan decided that their story deserved to be told.

My heart went out for Roe instantly. I have this thing for people–men, women, children–who feel as though that no one loves them, that they don’t belong, and because of that they’re better left alone. If I meet them through a book or in real life, I immediately want to prove them wrong, that they do belong, that there’s a difference between wanting to be left alone and being bereft of human contact–because even the most introverted of people (*raises hand*) needs human contact every once in a while, even if it’s just to complain that you spilt your coffee all over your t-shirt this morning when you got up, that you accidentally put on two different colored socks and didn’t realize that you did until after you had left the house, or that you dropped your phone and now have the latest update from Spider.

Roe doesn’t have any of that. He claims that he doesn’t want it, that he doesn’t need it. He doesn’t want a friend and he doesn’t want someone to love him. His reasoning? He isn’t good enough for any of it. That he doesn’t deserve it because of the way he is–because he is gay and because of how he likes his sex. I sympathized with him, and I couldn’t wait until he was shown, not just told, that he did deserve someone to love him, and for him to love in return. And Travis was the perfect person to show him.

Roe and Travis are absolutely wonderful together; they just work. It isn’t just that their kinks ‘line up like a pair of custom-cut rails’. They are the perfect example of when two different people who virtually have nothing in common (besides their kinks and livelihood), but grow to understand each other better than anybody else ever could. It starts off as just sex, as sometimes ‘relationships’ do, but grows to become something more. It doesn’t happen over night, it doesn’t even happen in a couple of chapters, and that’s what I loved. It felt real. Their emotions, their feelings for the other, they happen naturally, as relationships, relationships that stand the test of time, do.

As for the ending, I absolutely loved it. I’ve read a few comments by people who didn’t like the ending because it felt like a cop-out or that it was too cheesy, but for me, it was perfect. It isn’t just because that Roe and Travis get their fairytale ending, as the ending would have felt any other way in any other book written by any other author, but rather because it’s the ending that brings the story to a full circle. Nowhere Ranch starts off as a book about a man who doesn’t want love and isn’t looking for love but over the course of the book learns one form of love–that between a man and a man–but also by the ending has learned another kind of love, a love that tests, teaches, and encompasses you more than any other.

Full circle.

Quotable Quotes:

“I was feeling like all that crazy sea inside me was settling into a calm. He had drawn it all out of the bottle I kept it in, but when I looked up at him like that, it settled, because if my wild insides were a sea, those gray eyes were the world’s biggest fucking bowl, and they held me. Caught me and held me and bore me up.”

My Rating:

1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch

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Review: Pup by S.J.D. Peterson

Pup CoverTitle & Author: Pup by S.J.D. Peterson
Series: Guards of Folsom (#1)
Release Date: April 19, 2013
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 214 pages

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Micah “Pup” Slayde knows he wants Tackett Austin the moment he lays eyes on him in the Guards of Folsom. Micah wants to have purpose, to be taken care of, and to take care of his Dom—wants to trust him completely, live for him, belong to him. To become his everything. Micah is sure Tackett is the one. The problem is, in order to be the perfect sub, he needs to stay focused, and that’s not easy for Micah, who suffers from what he refers to as a “broken brain.” Focus and adult attention deficit disorder rarely coexist.

Ever since Ty Callahan and Blake Henderson’s collaring ceremony, Tackett’s been thinking too much about his own loneliness. Even though Ty introduces Micah and urges Tackett to give him a try, Tackett isn’t so easily convinced. He’s spent his life pursuing a successful business career, and the subs he dominates almost never enjoy the kiss of his leather twice. Twenty years Micah’s senior, Tackett has no interest in taking on and taming such a young and naughty sub—but it’s difficult to resist such an adorable pup when he begs.

My Thoughts:

I went back and forth a couple of times on how to rate this book.

I mean, did it deserve a full-on 2 smooch rating? *wince* Maybe.

The book started out strong enough; I found myself enjoying Tackett’s gruff, growly, toppy Dom persona a lot in the opening scenes of the book and loved the dynamic that those scenes set up between him and Micah’s much more playful pup persona. This relationship had such potential! Potential to be fun. Potential to be frustrating. Potential to be off-the-charts, thermometre-meltingly HOT. Potential to give me a real warm and fuzzy HEA when they found their balance and their love together.

But as the book progressed, I really, really began to dislike Tackett’s character and the way that he chose to deal with Micah. Micah was a sensualist. Touch was one of the main ways that he communicates and interacts with the world. To deny him that seems cruel – so cruel that I couldn’t really wrap my head around how I’m sure the author intended those elements to come across (which was freeing or… something?! I’m reaching. As I said, I didn’t “get” how those rules and punishment achieved whatever the heck Tackett was trying to achieve).

I also wasn’t too excited by the pacing of the novel. I mean, it was okay, but it all felt a little one note to me. I guess the easiest way for me to describe it is to say that no part of this novel really pulled a strong emotional reaction from me (be it anger or happiness or extreme, extreme horniness), and that’s what I’m looking for in a 3-, 4-, and 5-smooch rated book. And, let me be a little crass for a moment and say that having that first sex scene be a fade to black made me feel cheated. SJD, if you expect me to remain invested in your characters and their relationships, you gotta cut that shit out. ASAP.

But as much as some of the elements of the novel were screaming 2-smooches at me, there were parts that tugged at my 3-smooch heartstrings.

Well… basically one giant element: Micah. Micah was a friggin’ delight. The boy was sweet and funny, giving and loyal, and so, so eager to please. He wound his way around my heart and I was so firmly in his corner that I’m sure it had something to do with why I was not happy with his big, bad, mean Dom. Also, watching the way that his brain worked was fascinating. I’m pretty sure that he’s the first character I’ve ever come across with ADD/ADHD, and though I’m not personally familiar with it (and therefore can’t speak to the accuracy of the portrayal), I thought Peterson did a bang up job of showing Micah’s thought processes and tangents, and the struggles that an adult with this type of cognitive disorder might face.

So long story short, I heart Micah and was SO happy when he didn’t take Tackett’s actions at the end of the novel lying down. It wasn’t very sub-like behaviour, but it was very human behaviour and I was proud of the little pup for standing up for himself.

I also totally dug the whole May-December angle to their relationship. Gotta admit, folks, that one pushes some major lust buttons for me. And the cover is BEYOND AWESOME! Kudos to whoever designed it because the cover alone practically had me panting to read this book (recommendations from friends did the rest).

Anyway… after some initial hemming and hawing that saw me clicking back and forth between 2 and 3 saucy smooches, I eventually decided to save myself the mental anguish and just split the difference. Is that a cop out? Perhaps. But it’s how I roll — sue me.

Have you read this book?! If so, please leave a comment in the section below and let me know what you thought of it. From the reviews I’ve seen on Goodreads, it’s definitely a love it or hate it type of book.

My Rating:
2 SmoochHalf

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