Rating: 4.25 stars
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After losing his job yet again when an affair with his boss goes sour, Liam is determined not to repeat the mistake. He is stuck living in his car after being kicked out by his boyfriend/boss and now needs a job and a place to live. Liam is applying for work as a caretaker for a young man in a wheelchair. Though Liam doesn’t have any specific experience, Ryan seems to be looking for a companion more than a nurse, and with their shared love of tattoos, piercings, and a more alternative lifestyle, Liam and Ryan hit it off and Liam is hired.
In fact, they do more than hit it off. Both men are attracted to one another, but Ryan believes Liam is straight. Ryan hasn’t had much experience at all with other men, his looks and the wheelchair and his own shyness getting in the way. And Liam is totally hot for Ryan, but he figures pretending he is straight will take away some of the temptation to get involved with his boss and risk losing his job and his home once again if things go badly. Instead Liam tries to encourage Ryan to get out there and date, even helping to set him up in hopes that if Ryan has someone else, he will be less of a temptation.
Ryan lives in an old hotel that he inherited. He has spent all his savings fixing it up, turning it into a BDSM/kink hotel with themed rooms and all kinds of toys. Despite his efforts, the hotel is struggling, and Ryan makes extra money through a para-fetish site where people pay to see him in his wheelchair or doing daily tasks. Liam isn’t thrilled that Ryan has these strangers obsessing over him, but until the hotel gets off the ground, Ryan needs the money.
Eventually Liam can’t keep his secret any longer, and shares his romantic feelings with Ryan. The two begin to grow even closer, building the hotel business and falling deeper for one another. But Ryan is still hiding a big secret, one that could destroy what the men have built.
I was first drawn to this book for the mix of kink with Ryan in his wheelchair. It is so rare to see a story about someone with a disability who also is allowed to have a strong, super kinky, sexual interests. In this case, not only does Ryan own a sex hotel, but he has a lot of fairly hard core fantasies that play into his immobility. He dreams of being held down, immobilized, and forced. And Liam has the perfectly complementary kinks, being interested in dominance and power over authority figures. Interestingly, at the same time as he has these intense kinks, Ryan is also frequently shy and timid about sex. He is very inexperienced, something he tries to hide from Liam. and often shy about sharing what he wants. But I really like how we see that even though he is a guy with physical issues, he is also a sexual person. And I love that Liam totally embraces everything about Ryan, scars and all.
I really liked these two as a couple. There is a really nice mix of heat and tenderness. Despite being bigger and stronger and much more experienced, Liam is also so tender and gentle and loving with Ryan. But at the same time, he is not afraid that Ryan is going to break, and these guys can really turn on the intensity when they get together. It is a nice balance, and I really liked them together.
The developing relationship is the primary focus of the book, but there are a lot of side story lines happening here. We have Ryan’s financial problems and his attempts to get the hotel on solid ground. There is the annoying next door neighbor who causes trouble and doesn’t seem to like them. Then there is the conflict between Ryan and Liam over Ryan’s web site. And a whole side plot about a guy Ryan dates and the problems that result. Oh, and randomly dropped comments about missing girls. And then, there is the big secret that we know about (though don’t totally understand) that we know is waiting to drop throughout the book.
So lots of interesting things, but honestly for me it was way too many. Mostly because this book is super long and these other plots take away from the forward progress of the relationship, at least for a long time. So the book felt fairly slow at the start because it takes quite a while for things to develop with Ryan and Liam. I felt like we just spend too much time on things that were not necessary in so much detail and don’t all go anywhere. Not to mention, this isn’t even the whole story, it is only part one. This first book ends at a total cliffhanger and is not complete in any way. The story stops at a pivotal point and picks up in the next book without any warning or indication that this is the only the first part of two.
To be honest, I am not a fan of this idea. It is the reason I waited so long to start this book as I wanted to wait until I had the second one in my hands first. So we have a really long book with tons of plot threads, and none of them are resolved. Even things that I thought were over sort of pop back up at the end. Rather than stretch this into two books, I would rather have seen things way tightened up and had one full story in one book. Now maybe I will feel differently after reading part two. But if I hadn’t known the cliffhanger was coming, I would have been quite frustrated. You really need to plan on reading both books or none at all because this one won’t stand alone. (Note: I see now that the authors are selling both books combined into one in addition to individually. So a little easier to get it all at once, but at over 750 pages combined, I still feel like this story should have been much shorter and tighter.)
That being said, I did enjoy the story and I would have read another book with these guys regardless. I just don’t love being forced into a surprise second half, and I feel like a tighter book could have avoided that. But I found Ryan and Liam really interesting and engaging characters. And now I am definitely eager to find out how things resolve on many fronts and look forward to the next story.
One last note is that this book suffers from poor editing. I am not sure if it is things everyone would notice, or just me because I am super picky about that. But there are lots of editorial mistakes, mostly focused on grammar. This isn’t the first time I have noticed this problem in the authors’ work and I find it a distraction when reading unfortunately.
But overall I enjoyed this one and think it is a creative and interesting story. I am looking forward to seeing how the authors tie it all together and what is in store for Liam and Ryan.