Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: 
Length: Short Story

Not only has Boston cop Brendan Daly been dumped by his boyfriend Kent, but Kent claims that Brendan dull in bed, no longer the “animal off the chain” he used to be.  Unable to bear the indignity, Brendan decides to show Kent that he can be wild, spontaneous, and as crazy as Kent claims to want.  So he sneaks into a party Kent is attending, hides in the broom closet, and plans to grab Kent into the darkened closet for a bit of role playing.  He’ll pretend to be an attacker, making Kent think he is being assaulted until he realizes it is really Brendan.  However, when he finally finds Kent, snatches him into the closet, and  forces a blow job out of him, Brendan is shocked and horrified to find that he has taken the wrong man.

Doctor Stephen Gallagan is totally freaked when he is suddenly grabbed into a dark closet by a stranger who proceeds to kiss him, handcuff him, and encourage him to perform a blow job.  Stephen is a virgin and pretty much totally unexperienced, but after his initial struggles, he starts to get turned on by the other man’s kissing and grinding. Pretty soon Stephen realizes Brendan thinks he is someone else, and begins participating with quite a bit of enthusiasm, no longer trying to get away.  When the incident is over, he suggests to Brendan that they forget it ever happened and figures that is the last they will see of each other.

And for a month it is, until Brendan ends up in Stephen’s clinic after his partner is shot and Brendan’s blood pressure is through the roof.  He is agitated and unsettled and Stephen must sedate him before performing a required exam.  But this time the tables are turned and Brendan is the one at Stephen’s mercy.  The guys once again show they get along great when the sex is aggressive, but then must figure out if there can be more between them than just pure action.

So this is an interesting short story, definitely falling pretty close to, if not crossing, the line of dubious consent in places.  Not necessarily a bad thing in a story, but not quite expected so worth mentioning.  First, let me say that everything that happens in the story totally works for both of these guys.  Despite being a virgin, we learn Stephen has a bit of a kinky side (he got totally turned on by receiving his first and only blow job while in public).  So although he is initially freaked when grabbed and shoved in a closet, he definitely gets a thrill from the fear, especially once he realizes the mistaken identity.  To me it seems clear that there is a point that Stephen could have chosen to resist but is enjoying the situation too much to want to stop.  So although I think Brendan’s actions are crazy here in the first place, and in real life this behavior would be totally unacceptable, for the purposes of the story it’s pretty clear that Stephen enjoyed it (and even gets a month’s worth of masturbatory fantasies remembering the incident). FWIW, the book blurb describes this scene as role playing cop versus suspect, but that is not really accurate to the story.  The book clearly says Brendan wants Kent to “think he was being assaulted for real, that rape was imminent.” This may seem a small distinction, but I think it is worth noting because while this is supposed to be role playing, only one party actually knows it is pretend which changes things quite a lot.

The encounter I found both more troubling (but also interesting) is when Stephen has Brendan in the clinic under the influence of sedation.  Brendan is clearly out of it, yet Stephen ties him down and has sex with him.  Again, Brendan definitely likes it, but I didn’t feel comfortable that Brendan was in a right mind to truly give consent.  Yes, there is a bit of a loophole that we find out after the fact that alters things somewhat, but this still felt like dubious consent to me regardless.  What I found most interesting though is how much this scene works for Brendan in ways you wouldn’t expect.  He is a big tough cop who works hard, has a lot of responsibility, and takes his job seriously.  He  is aggressive and shows his anger when he gets scared.  But after growing up taking care of his drunk mother and younger siblings, part of Brendan longs to let someone else take care of him.  We learned at the start of the story that Kent would never top him, and it is clear that Brendan really wants to be on the receiving end of a bit of dominance sometimes.  So all that adds up to him greatly enjoying the encounter, despite the questionable circumstances.  Of course, this is once again still so totally inappropriate.  Even without the drugging, doctors should not be having sex with their patients on the exam table.  Neither of these guys seem to have a super evolved sense of professional ethics, to put it mildly.

Despite my feelings about the nature of the encounters, I think the authors do a nice job really developing these characters in such a short story and showing how this all works for them so well.  However, my primary complaint with the story, aside from the consent issues, is really that it was so short.  Although my file showed up about 70 pages in my ereader, the story itself was only about half of that (with the remainder taken up as previews of other stories).  I found Brendan such an interesting character, I would have loved to read a much longer book about him.  And I was intrigued by Stephen as well, this virgin who is often shy and hesitant, but had a bold side as well.  But we go so quickly between sexual encounters that there is not much time to develop anything else between them and the authors rely on the use of an epilogue of sorts to convey the relationship development that we don’t actually see.  As a result, I think we miss a lot of everyday dynamic between them that would have been quite interesting and have helped make their connection seem more real — how they negotiate a life together in between the bouts of explosive sex.  It also means that we get quite a few things that stretched the bounds of belief for me, mostly because there isn’t time to really develop and explain what is happening (most especially the ending).  So not everything totally came together for me.  But I think there are enough interesting developments that this book will work for those that enjoy a hard core story that pushes some boundaries.