Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Marcus Bailey meets Malcolm Quinn when he bails him out of a bar room fight. Malcolm’s not particularly popular around the bar, being an accused cheater and swindler. Marcus takes the opportunity to rescue him before things get out of hand and takes him to his ranch for the night. Malcolm’s had a rough life and isn’t naive enough to think that Marcus’ hospitality will come without a price. He’s surprised, though, when Marcus truly just wants to help him, and Malcolm spends the night in his barn.
When, the next day, Marcus’ horse gives birth, he calls on Malcolm to help, and realizes he could use an extra set of hands around the ranch. Marcus is a daytime soap opera star, so he’s gone for weeks at a time, and with the new colt to look after, he feels more comfortable with Malcolm on the ranch.
After just a few days, Malcolm notices that Marcus is walking with a limp and is cagey about the circumstances of his injury. When Malcolm accidentally walks into Marcus’ room a few days later and finds him naked and bleeding on his bed, he gets a baptism by fire into the world of Dominance and submission and especially what happens when you have an abusive Dom at the helm.
Paul’s been Marcus’ Dom for over a year, even though Marcus was warned that he wasn’t trained and had a bad temper. Marcus was convinced that Paul was the best he could do, so he put up with his violence and abuse much longer than he should have. When Paul takes Marcus to the brink of death, Malcolm has to decide if he wants to continue to be a part of Marcus’ life if it involves him being part of the BDSM lifestyle. And, if so, how will Malcolm fit in? Can he become the man that Marcus needs in his life?
There were some really interesting things about this book, most especially the fact that it took place in the 80s, at the advent of the discovery of AIDS, and so much of the story involved the misguided perception of most people at that time, including gay men such as Marcus and Malcolm. It was heartbreaking to see Marcus treated with such discrimination, not only by bigots, but also by those who were terrified of the disease, even though someone like Marcus was not a risk taker in the slightest. It was disheartening but also hopeful to see how much things have changed in this regard over the past 30 years. That, even though there’s still a stigma associated with AIDS, and ignorance and bigotry is still rampant, that real progress is being made as far as public perception, available information, and methods of protection.
If you like yourself a cowboy story, this one should fit the bill quite nicely. Most of the story takes place on a ranch, and a good bit of it involves a cute little baby colt that looks like a mule (named “Jack” for “Jackass”), and the author does a good job of portraying life on a ranch as difficult but satisfying. I always get lost in a good cowboy book, imagining the romanticism of a quiet ranch, away from the world.
Some qualms about this book: first of all, why were the MCs named Malcolm and Marcus? They were so similar, and I was confused through about 97% of the book. I know they’re different names and it shouldn’t matter that they start with the same letter, but I call my husband by my son’s name because they both start with a J, so I’m obviously going to be easily confused by two M names.
That’s a little quibble. On a more grand scale, I had a hard time figuring out where this book fit in. Yes, it deals with BDSM, but not really. We see the aftermath of an abusive relationship between a Dom and a sub, and M & M (see what I did there?) do dabble a little bit in the dominance through verbal commands, etc. We also read that they are both receiving training within the lifestyle, but that’s really where it stops. So it’s not BDSM-ey enough to satisfy those who are attracted to that type of book, but not vanilla enough to appease those who are turned off by any mention of Dominance and submission.
It’s a little predictable. Nothing revolutionary. But it’s well-written and kept me engaged and I thought it had some interesting things to say about the importance of extensive training within the lifestyle, and also what I mentioned about the period during the AIDS scare. I’d recommend it as a book with very light BDSM elements for those who are a little skittish about the lifestyle but hold some interest in it. Also, if you’re not easily confused. Because I still don’t know which one was Marcus.