Rating: 4.75 stars
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Grant Maxwell’s life takes an unexpected turn when his coffee maker dies and he instead stops by his local coffee shop for his morning cup. There he meets Aiden James, a man he finds so striking and appealing that it shatters Max’s normally cool Dom demeanor. Max has never found this kind of attraction to anyone, and it leaves him a little bit fumbling, but determined to get to know the young man.
Aiden finds Max appealing from the start as well, and as he gets to know Max, begins to realize that Max’s sexual interests are in line with some of Aiden’s unexplored fantasies. Aiden is somewhat embarrassed by his interest in pony play, but thrilled when he realizes Max shares his kink. But Max is into more than just kinky play. He is a Dom and is interested in Aiden as a full time sub as well as a romantic partner. As Aiden learns more about what it means to be a sub, he finds it is something he really wants to explore, and the two begin a D/s relationship that both find to be fulfilling and a learning experience.
But as much as he loves being a sub, it takes some time for Aiden to get used to losing himself so completely to another person. It is a very different experience than any he has had so far, and he must wrap his head what it means to be a sub and what he is getting out of his relationship with Max. At the same time, Max also has to find balance. In his case, Max has had subs before, but no one to whom he also has given his heart. Figuring out what Aiden needs as both a sub and a romantic partner is not always easy for Max. But the two men are falling hard for one another, and the more time the spend together, the more they are committed to working things out to secure their future together.
I am a huge fan of the Guards of Folsom series by SJD Peterson and I think this is my favorite book so far. It is a story that manages to be warm and romantic, while at the same time being totally hot and sexy. While the first two books (and Tag Team especially) deal with some heavier issues, the conflicts in this story are much simpler and seem to resolve much more easily. Aiden deals with a bit of a struggle early on as he figures out his sense of self in the midst of being a submissive. It is an interesting idea, how someone who is used to acting and thinking independently makes the adjustment to a life so intertwined with someone else. The issue surfaces a few times, but Aiden comes to accept that part of himself and his submissive needs pretty quickly and it doesn’t drag out. So most of this book is two men who fall for each other hard, who are open about those feelings with each other, and who enjoy lots of hot and intense sex. Without a strong conflict, this book could have fallen flat. But Peterson gives us two really compelling characters and such a romantic and sexy story, I couldn’t put it down.
The story alternates between Max and Aiden’s POV and one thing I would have liked would be more from Aiden’s POV, especially during the D/s sex scenes. Since Max is the one familiar with the lifestyle, and much of the story is Aiden exploring whether this works for him, I would have liked to be in his head more often during these scenes to better understand what he is feeling. I also would have liked a little more understanding on Max’s issues separating Aiden as sub versus as lover. The two roles impact how the men interact, and how Max responds to Aiden. But as someone not familiar with the lifestyle, I didn’t fully grasp the issues Max is struggling with and I would have liked more clarification so I could really get it all.
As I mentioned, this story is part of Peterson’s Guards of Folsom series, but it would definitely stand alone. However, for fans of that series, Tackett and Micah from Pup make an appearance here. Also, the timeline overlaps with Tag Team so we see Max heading to Florida to counsel Mason, though there is no real detail about that in this book. Also, there is a connection to one of Peterson’s previous series, Whispering Pines Ranch, as Aiden is Lorcan’s brother. I haven’t read Whispering Pines and I had no problems following along here, so I don’t think anyone else will have problems either. But if you read that one, you may enjoy the cameos here (and of course, Ty and Blake are regular crossovers from that series to this one).
So with Pony, Peterson has given us another great installment in this series. I loved seeing the journey Aiden goes through as he figures out his interest in submission and what he wants out of his life. And I appreciated that these guys are open and honest about their feelings from the start, making their fall into an intense relationship feel so real and right. And of course, it is as sexy as you could want, with lots of hot and intense scenes, but also many quiet moments. I really enjoyed this one a lot and definitely recommend it.
Cover Review: Can we talk about these covers a moment? Seriously, I am crazy for them. I love how all the covers for the series follow the same theme, with the sub’s head tilted back to reveal his neck. They are just beautiful and so striking. And it works especially well for this story as Max loves to nuzzle that spot on Aiden’s neck that makes him crazy. Just gorgeous!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.