For his 24th birthday, Samson treated himself to a one-year membership at the exclusive Velvet Glove, the premiere BDSM club around. He is used to the scene and is a skilled top, but even he is a bit overwhelmed the first time he walks into the posh club. The manager quickly helps put him at ease by introducing him to long-time member Alain who offers to show Samson around. Alain is a submissive whose partner passed away and hasn’t been with anyone since. Alain craves touch and it has been hard on him being alone, something that brings out both Samson’s protective as well as toppy instincts. The men are drawn together and decide to do a scene up in Alain’s apartment at the club. It doesn’t take long before things become serious with the two men, finding both love and a sexually compatible match between them.
Oh you guys, I so wanted this book to work better than it did. I loved the set up of the story with the older, more experienced Alain as the more vulnerable man, at a loss after the death of his partner. And seeing the more bumbling and awkward Samson able to provide what he needed. And I thought it was an interesting angle that Alain had previously been involved in a 24/7 lifestyle dom/sub dynamic and looked forward to see how he adjusted to a different kind of partnership with Alain. But sadly, this story was full of problems for me.
I found the biggest problem practically insurmountable — Samson’s speech impediment. He doesn’t exactly stutter, but he says “um” and “ah” continually throughout his conversation to the point that it is unbearably distracting. It must be hundreds of times throughout the story. Now, I have read books where the hero stutters before, even badly, and I have never had this much trouble. But I found myself skimming Samson’s dialogue because it was so incredibly difficult to read. Here is just a brief example of him talking to Alain:
“Have you done a scene um, any scenes at all, since your ah, master died?”
“Only public ones when Kes — Kestrel — asked. You know, for show. Nothing… real.”
Oh. Oh, how sad that such a beautiful and obviously sensual man had not had any real contact since winter. “Would you. I mean I would like to do um, a scene with you ah, tonight. Just the um, two of us.” He hoped he wasn’t being too forward, but it was just wrong that no one had wanted to work with Alain, even if only for a night. “I mean um, I know we don’t um, you know, know each other ah, yet. But I would like to um, start to get to know ah, you.”
“Oh.” He got a slow smile. “What kind of things do you like? I have my own rooms; we could go, after we eat.”
“Oh. Really? Oh. I would, um. Oh, yes, please. That would be um, very nice. I like. Well, I am very good with ah, cat ‘o nine tails and um, floggers, whips, canes. My knots are um, clumsy, but I like binding anyway.” He looked into Alain’s eyes. “For a first scene with someone I had um, just met? I would ask if they um, liked pain and then ah, I would use my hands. I’m um, very good with my ah, hands. I like. I like feeling the um, heat coming up. Feeling what I’m um, doing.”
The only thing that made it possible to read the story for me were the breaks for narration or Alain’s dialog. But honestly I am not sure I would have continued the book after the first ten pages if I hadn’t accepted it for review.The weirdest thing to me is that this speech issue is TOTALLY IGNORED throughout the story. No one ever mentions it, Samson never thinks about it, no one talks about it to one another. It is as if no one in the story even notices this incredibly distracting issue. It is made even stranger by the extremely frequent reference to Samson’s great height (he is 6’7″). So that is a big deal to everyone and mentioned often, but no explanation or even reference to the speech thing.
In comparison, my other issues with the book feel minor, but I did have some problems with other aspects of the story. The biggest being that within a few hours of meeting and after sharing only one scene and sexual experience together, Alain suggests that Samson give up his job, get hired at the club, and move in with him. Then within 12 hours we get the first declaration of love, followed quickly by the second. I was really enjoying the dynamic between the two men and looking forward to seeing the relationship develop, but this just took me right out of the story. Not to mention the ease with which Samson is hired at this exclusive and fancy club which seems to have the most amazing employee benefits. Alain tells him, “there’s jobs with Mal” as if there are tons of vacancies just waiting for someone to jump in. And Mal hires Samson literally hours after he steps into the club for the FIRST TIME to be a teacher of dom skills to other members. He seemingly required no demonstration of Samson’s skills or experience, just immediately hired him to conveniently allow Samson and Alain to move in together the first night they meet. Sigh.
So I struggled with the grade a bit, and I ultimately ended up with a three because there were some things that redeemed the story for me. I really liked the set up of the story, as I mentioned. I thought Alain and Samson were interesting characters and we get a good feel for them in a short number of pages. For a book that is part of the larger Velvet Glove series, I found it easy to jump in to the story never having read any of the others. But unfortunately, the problems I had were too glaring to really allow me to enjoy the book the way I had hoped.