Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
About six months after his parents’ conviction in a financial Ponzi scheme, Lane Moredock is still settling in to his new life. He is living with his boyfriend Derek, working at Taco Hub, putting himself through school, and helping out at the animal shelter. Lane is happy, but still a little uncertain. He loves Derek, is happier now than he ever was living with his wealthy but distant parents. He has found friends in Ferg and Brin, and an adopted family with Derek’s mother and sister. And he is proud that he is making a life for himself on his own terms, that he has managed to survive the trial and the media attention and the complete change of life.
But Lane’s demons are not all gone. He grew up feeling unwanted and unloved. He was scared and self-doubting and never felt good enough. And even though part of him feels pride and happiness, there is another part that still worries. When Lane’s mom contacts him from prison, all his old feelings are stirred up again. The Moredocks are appealing their sentence and they want Lane’s help in their big PR push to gain public sympathy. Part of Lane knows he is being used and manipulated by his parents. But part of him is so desperate for their love and attention that he wants to help them, even though it means bringing himself renewed public scrutiny. Lane hopes that their time in prison has changed his parents, and that he can believe the things they are telling him. And even though he mostly knows that they are using him, he can’t bring himself to give up completely.
As Christmas approaches, things become more stressful. The PR company wants Lane to do public interviews, just highlighting his feelings of inadequacy. They want him to avoid mention of Derek so no one knows about the BDSM side of his life, or that he is living with a much older man. And even though his relationship with Derek and the scenes they do are what is holding him together, his mother wants him to feel ashamed and embarrassed at their Dom/sub relationship. As Lane gets more and more stressed, things become harder at home as well. Derek tries to give Lane what he needs, but he is also working hard and doesn’t always know how to reassure Lane and give him the confidence he lacks. But the love between Lane and Derek is strong, and as the holiday approaches, they lean on each other to get through the difficult times.
The Boy Who Belonged continues the fabulous Boy series by J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry. I loved the first book, The Good Boy, and its short story follow up, The Naughty Boy, so I was thrilled to see the authors had another story planned for Lane and Derek. I just love these guys so much I can’t even tell you. Lane is someone you just want to take into your arms and hug until he knows how wonderful he is. In the first book, Lane is really suffering badly, both physically and emotionally. His parents neglect and indifference have shattered his confidence and make him doubt himself all the time. And the physical abuse he suffered, combined with the emotional pain, means he was barely functioning until Derek came into his life. Here we see how far Lane has come. He is happy, he is doing what he loves, he is living with a man he cares about and who loves him in return. It is so gratifying to see that Lane has made a life for himself that, although simple, is exactly what he wants and needs.
But of course, Lane’s demons are not totally at bay. Even before his mother comes back into his life, Lane still experiences a lot of self doubt. He worries he is too dependent on Derek for his emotional stability. He is still reserved and wary about letting people know when he is upset. And then his mother barrels in and once again her self-centered attitude and complete disapproval and indifference towards Lane begins to shatter that fragile strength he has built. I loved how we see here that Derek’s love and support, as well as that of his friends Brin and Ferg, help Lane through the difficulty. Derek supports Lane and does his best to help navigate through everything. I appreciate once again that we see that Derek is not the perfect and all knowing Dom. He gets frustrated at times that Lane needs so much when sometimes Derek is tired and worn out too. He occasional wonders if he is doing the right thing for Lane, and if he knows how to help him. But at the same time, Derek is unflagging in his love and support. He doesn’t give Lane his strength, but he helps Lane find it in himself. Through their Dom/sub relationship he helps Lane recognize that he can face fears and pain and intensity and be all right. That he is a strong person who can handle a lot, even his mother.
I also continue to love bratty Brin and his Dom Ferg. Brin provides that comic relief that we need in an intense story. And I love his relationship with Lane. I love that he prods Lane into being more outspoken, more bold, even as Lane laughs at Brin’s outrageous behavior. And the love and support of his friends helps confirm for Lane just how much he has in his life to be proud of, and that he is more than just Derek’s sub, but someone who has made a full life for himself. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the pain in the ass that is Mr. Zimmerman, Derek’s sister’s macaw who is staying with them for the holidays. Mr. Z is foul mouthed and obnoxious and makes them all crazy. You can’t help but love him (and thank god he is not living in YOUR house). Mr. Zimmerman brings lots of comic relief to the book, and I will never think of “feeding someone a banana” quite the same way again.
My only tiny issue here is at times I felt myself frustrated with Lane. I wanted to yell at him when he gave in to his mother yet again. I worried that Lane would spiral totally out of control and the whole book we would see him lose his backbone until the final moments. But fortunately, that doesn’t happen, and we see Lane is a lot stronger than he believes. And even with my frustration, I can get exactly where he is coming from. The authors do a wonderful job helping us understand Lane. Even as I wanted him to stand up for himself more, I could understand why he couldn’t. And I was thrilled to see him find himself and recognize his inner strength and how good a life he has built for himself.
So I just loved this story and this entire series. It is romantic and sexy and kinky and a lot of fun. The authors combine the sexiness and intensity of the BDSM play with the emotional aspects of Lane’s inner struggles, with the romantic and loving nature of his relationship with Derek, and plenty of humor to keep things light and fun. It’s a wonderful story and definitely highly recommended.
Cover Review: I am sort of mixed on this cover. On one hand, super sexy. On another, a different Lane than the other book (no more Dick Casablancas lips). Also, although this is a BDSM book, there is no rope bondage in the story. I feel a little like this is “generic BDSM cover because we put ropes on it” rather than actually relating directly to this particular story. But still hot.