Rating: 4.25 stars
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When Edward Nolan lost his submissive and partner of 20 years in an accident two years ago, he wasn’t sure he’d ever make a connection with another submissive again. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. His friends had introduced him to many men over the months, but he just couldn’t help but compare them to his dead lover, Frank. When much younger Mark, the complete opposite of Frank, is dropped on Edward’s doorstep by his well-meaning friends, Edward is forced to take him in temporarily, since he was abruptly and publicly dumped by his Dom and has nowhere else to go.
Perhaps Edward got more than he bargained for. From the outside, Mark seems like the perfect submissive. But not only does Edward know that he’s been unable to keep a dominant for more than a short period of time, he comes to find out that Mark’s been severely damaged, both physically and psychologically by the sadistic monsters that Mark is drawn to. Edward finds his role of providing temporary housing to be suddenly expanded. He feels the need to help this man get healthy. To teach him what a true Dom looks like. And, along the way, he might find the submissive he’s been reluctant to accept back into his life.
Dear, sweet Mark. I loved him. He was such a perfect, timid submissive who had been led astray by what he thought he wanted and the type of partner he thought he needed. Those increasingly cruel men took advantage of his naivete and showed him that control meant pain and cruelty. He needed Edward Nolan, and it made me so happy that he found a Dom worthy of his determined servitude and love. To someone who doesn’t understand the BDSM lifestyle, it may just look like Mark had no sense of self, but I think the complete opposite was true. Being a submissive was so much an innate part of him, Mark was utterly lost without the ability to express that part of himself. Edward made him the best possible person he could be, and it was nice to see Mark find such happiness and peace in his submission.
I was drawn in by Dare’s choice of setting for this story. The entire book takes place over the span of just a few days. It is set entirely within the home of Edward Nolan. There are some short appearances by a few other characters, but for the most part, it’s just these two men inside the house, working through the first few crucial days between essential strangers. I found this to be incredibly intimate and quite powerful for the purpose of the story.
When Mark arrives and is dropped off at Edward’s door, they know nothing about each other. There is no connection at all between the two people, but instantly Mark moves into his role as a submissive. He’s lost without it. For me, it showed that, for those truly involved in the lifestyle, this isn’t a game. It’s just a state of being. So while the feelings between the two become powerful after such a short amount of time, it felt believable. Dare creates this closed off environment that is charged with possibility and potential. It felt intense. It was the perfect backdrop for the changes that were to occur within each of the characters and for the potent feelings that rise throughout the process.
On the flip side, it was hard for me to fall completely in love with this book because it really was just a small glimpse into the life of these two characters. I was emotionally attached to them, became interested in the way that their Dom/sub dynamic worked, and then the story ended. There wasn’t enough time for the characters or the storyline to develop. I wanted more.
This is about a 24/7 Dom/sub relationship with heavy BDSM elements. It never felt harsh to me because I felt there were true feelings of respect and love to balance out the harshness of the lifestyle. But be warned that the power exchange between these two characters is front and center here. There’s still a lot of emotion and quite a bit of true awww-worthy moments, but it’s not your standard love story.
This is the third book in the Collared series by Kim Dare, though I didn’t read the first two and felt it was definitely successful as a standalone novel. I liked it enough that I’ll look for the other books in this series and read those that are published in the future. Dare’s writing drew me in and her characters kept me there. I was happy to spend a few hours with Mark and Edward.