Rating: 4.5 stars
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Cal has spent the last year and a half as the driver for wealthy banker, James Harcourt. James is a high powered guy who works hard and makes lots of money. But his job takes a toll, and Cal can usually tell when things get too much for James because that is when he asks to be driven to Market Garden, a high end gay brothel. Those nights with the rent boys seem to alleviate some of James’ stress, but they are becoming hell on Cal. Cal is attracted to James, and wishes he can be the one to satisfy and take care of him, but Cal knows there is no place for him in his employer’s sex life.
That is until one night James leaves Market Garden without taking anyone home, and reaches for Cal instead. It is a wonderful night, but when it is over things are totally awkward between the men. But just that one encounter makes it clear to Cal that James has some specific needs that are being met by the men at Market Garden. And Cal becomes determined to be the one who meets those needs, seeking out someone who can help train him to be the Dom that can really take care of James. And soon the men begin a sexy and mutually satisfying affair the feeds both of their desires. But Cal still works for James, and their role as employer and employee continues to complicate things. Not to mention that James still doesn’t seem emotionally ready for anything more than a transactional relationship, afraid to open up to anything beyond satisfying sex. But Cal’s heart is becoming involved, and he isn’t sure he can continue to be with James if he can’t have some of his heart as well as his body.
If It Drives is the latest installment in Voinov and Witt’s wonderful Market Garden series. It picks up on a theme from some of the earlier books: If it flies, drives, or fornicates, it’s cheaper to rent it. In this case, James has definitely gotten in the habit of hiring out, going to Market Garden when his needs grow too strong. Much of the conflict here centers around the fact that he likes to be able to pay these guys and be done with them. It allows him to keep some emotional distance, as well as some separation between his needs as a submissive and his powerful personality in the rest of his life. But this only works when he is sleeping with rent boys. Cal wants more from James than fantastic sex followed by a return to their normal relationship. So the struggle here for the men is to find a way for James to open up emotionally and really let Cal in.
I enjoyed this conflict and found it a really interesting and unexpected take on their relationship dynamic. I also really liked how the authors explored the needs of these two men and how they manage to mesh. James is a natural submissive, and he needs pain, dominance, and even a little humiliation. And Cal is a man who gets off on being what his partner wants and needs (it is described as a “service top”). I liked how this isn’t your typical Dom/sub kind of story. These men are really exploring what they want and need, especially in Cal’s case. He hasn’t necessarily ever seen himself in the Dom role, but with some coaching, he really falls into it, as he finds providing for James’ needs a total turn on. So this was an interesting dynamic for me, and an unusual spin on the normal Dom/sub story.
As with many books in the series, we get same cameos and larger appearances from other characters we have met. Nick and Spencer from If it Flies and If It Fornicates play a fairly significant role here. Nick is the one helping to train Cal to become a Dom, and we get to see more about his and Spencer’s relationship now that Nick has retired from Market Garden. Despite these connections to other books, you could really read this as a standalone, though I think it is richer having the history of the club and some of the side characters.
I did have a few quibbles. I was kind of surprised at how easily the Market Garden folks spoke to Cal about James’ experiences there. I realize it is not exactly doctor/patient confidentiality, but really their clientele can’t exactly want them blabbing about who they see and what they do. Cal walks in and starts asking questions and no one seems to have a problem sharing all about James. I also thought that Cal going around James to find out from others about his sexual kinks was a little much. I mean, James ends up being cool with it, but it did seem such a violation of his privacy.
But really those are small things and overall I really liked this one. I just love this series and think the authors are doing a great job with this world. This book especially takes a unique spin on the rent boy and BDSM angle. I really enjoyed it and like Cal and James quite a lot. Definitely recommended.