Rating: 4.5 stars
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After his estranged father’s death, Ben has inherited half of the bar his dad owned. After being dumped by his boyfriend for being too dull, and sort of frustrated with life as an accountant, owning a bar presents some interesting challenges for Ben and he is eager to get in there and get his hands dirty making changes and using his business savvy to get The Square Peg back on track.
Shane is the manager of The Square Peg, and courtesy of Ben’s father now part owner as well. He isn’t particularly thrilled when Ben shows up, ready to dive into making changes to a place Shane feels was doing perfectly fine without him. The two men clash from the start, fighting over just about everything. Ben feels like Shane is obstinate and difficult for no reason, arguing about everything. And Shane hates that Ben is coming in and making changes to his bar, acting as if he knows exactly how things should be done.
But the passion of their anger ends up fueling their lust as well, and one late night argument turns into some super hot sex that neither man expects. Shane has always had a submissive side, but has never figured out how to explain what he needs, nor found a partner that accepts and understands him. And Ben is surprised to find that after a lifetime of vanilla sex, he has a strong dominant side and loves to control Shane’s pleasure.
The two men begin to both build a relationship and a bring new life into the bar. But just as it seems like things are working out for them both personally and professionally, an act of violence puts it all at risk.
Oh you guys, I really liked this one. Ben and Shane are just all kinds of sexy together and this is for sure my favorite aspect of the story. I loved the interplay between them, with Ben as this sort of seemingly dull accountant, stuck in routine and a world of numbers. And he discovers these hidden passions inside himself over the course of the book. First, his love for the bar and the friendships that come with it, the experience of rolling up his sleeves and really being part of things there. And of course his previously unrecognized dominant side, and learning about himself and his needs. I just love that geeky guy who turns out to be assertive and dominant and masterful where relationships are concerned and Ben is just super hot. This book is really Ben’s story most of all, as he finds himself and learns what he really wants and needs. But I really enjoyed Shane as well, and loved the interplay between them, with just that touch of brattiness on Shane’s end that heightens Ben’s need to assert control. I especially like how the things that at first made each man annoyed at the other turn out to be the things that most turn them on. There is a lot of sex in this book, but I really think it serves to show both the guys’ development as a couple, as well as the character growth from both of them.
Plotwise things are pretty simple here, and my only quibbles really are just on a lack of conflict. Most of the story focuses on Ben and Shane’s developing relationship and their renovations to the bar. After their initial clashing with each other, things run very smoothly for them. There are some interesting issues explored surrounding Ben’s worry about his need for dominance and his uncertainty that it is ok that he likes to control Shane, to give pain and to be aggressive. And there is a little bit of a suspense element that is somewhat tacked on here to create some last minute conflict. I’d have like to see more build up to that tension so it didn’t feel quite so added on at the end.
But while I think the story could have used a little bit more going on, I really enjoyed it greatly and was never bored (maybe it was all the hot sex). I found the side characters enjoyable, especially Vin the bartender, who is given lots of page time, presumably because he is the MC in the next story (which I am dying to read — they had me at pierced, tattooed, goth, virgin). And I really adored Shane and Ben. They are hot and sexy and very fun together. I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait to get started on the sequel. Definitely recommended.