Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story
A young man lies displayed on a bed, naked and aroused and waiting the perusal of masked strangers who will bid on the chance to have him for the night. Though the man is won for a huge price, it turns out the winner does not want Brady for himself. No, what Dr. Darius wants is to know who it is that Brady really longs for, who the man is that Brady thinks about and that inspires his arousal. When Brady finally admits it is his best friend Josh, a man he has wanted for years, Dr. Darius arranges to bring the men together for a chance to finally be with one another. Although Josh and Brady have been best friends since childhood, tragedy affected their lives as teenagers. Since then they have had to focus on surviving and taking care of one another and that early promise of love got pushed aside. Now that with a little nudge from Dr. Darius, the two men finally admit their feelings for one another and act on the love that has been there all along.
This story takes place within the backdrop of the mysterious Gentleman’s Parlor, what appears to be a high end club for sexual fantasy and wish fulfillment. Knight does a nice job of creating the setting, describing a place of decadence and old fashioned charm, a place where an antique steamer trunk can share space with masked men in harnesses having sex in public. Brady has come here out of desperation as the two men are struggling to pay their bills and survive on their own. But instead of selling himself to a stranger, he finds himself instead with a kindly benefactor in Dr. Darius, who pays a huge sum to give Brady the chance to be with the man he truly wants. It is a bit of a fantasy, but in keeping with the magic and mystery of the Parlor.
The story takes place both in present day and a series of flashbacks to key events in Brady and Josh’s relationship. We see how their friendship grew and how close they came to a romantic relationship before their lives were forever changed. Although there is not a lot of time to get to know these guys in the short story format, I think there is enough here to give us a nice feel for the bond between them and a bit about their personalities. It helped to balance out the book giving us a sense for both the world of the Gentleman’s Parlor full of sex and intrigue, and the relationship development of these regular guys who are caught up in its midst.
I did find the set up a bit shaky at times. I had a hard time imaging that Brady, a virgin with no sexual experience who is prostituting himself for the first time, would somehow be so aroused, confident, and calm at the start of the book, as random strangers bid for his body. Or that Dr. Darius was not only willing to pay $100,000 to buy him for the night, but then happy to hand Brady over to the arms of Josh. And of course that Darius could immediately sense from Brady’s groans of pleasure that he secretly was thinking of his one true love. So the set up required a little suspension of disbelief for me, but I do think that is where the fantasy element comes in here, allowing the reader to just get caught up in this sensual, mysterious world of the Parlor.
Dr. Darius remains a mystery, both to us and to Brady. We never really find out what motivates him, who he is, or any of his backstory. This book is the first in a series, so perhaps more will be revealed in time. I am curious to see where the series takes us and who else we will meet. So I enjoyed this story and am definitely intrigued for more.
Cover Review: Gorgeous cover that really captures the sensual feel of the book and the decadence of the Gentleman’s Parlor, as well as many of the elements from the story.