Ridley Corbin likes to think of himself as the defender of the underdog. He was bullied as a child, but grew up to be a pretty tough guy, and the piercings and tattoos usually intimidate most folks who try to give him trouble. Ridley has a total crush on Alex Firestone, a library assistant at his college. Alex is adorably geeky, with a mess of blond curls and his skinny jeans and bow ties. Ridley finds himself obsessed with Alex despite himself and determined to get to know him.
When some bullies at school start to pick on Alex, Ridley is immediately there to jump to his defense. But Alex surprises him by being able to hold his own quite well. A hot night of passion where Alex takes the lead in some aggressive and super hot sex just reinforces that Alex is strong and tough and can take care of himself. There is clearly a lot more to this sweet little librarian than Ridley once thought, and it soon is pretty clear that Alex is hiding something big from Ridley. Alex’s past doesn’t stay behind him, however, and when Alex’s secrets come to light, it turns both their worlds upside down.
Wow, you guys, this book totally was not what I was expecting at all! And I mean that in the best possible way. What started off as a story about two college guys who are sort of figuring out their relationship and how they fit together, ends up taking a turn into somewhat of a thriller as the truth about Alex’s past comes to light. The backstory is slowly unveiled and we learn about it at the same time as Ridley, which really kept me captivated as we slowly get clues that not all is as it seems.
Ridley considers himself a pretty tough guy and protector of the innocent. He is hot for Alex and totally wants him, but he also sees Alex as needing to be taken care of. When the guys get in bed together, however, Ridley quickly realizes Alex is not meek or shy. Alex is strong and aggressive and quite toppy in bed, and Ridley just hangs on for the ride. He doesn’t quite have a handle on Alex, but he knows that sex with Alex is like nothing he has ever experienced and he definitely wants more time with him.
We are in Ridley’s head for most of the book, but when Alex is attacked by bullies, we get our next hint that all is not as it seems, yet we still don’t know why. Slowly as the book goes on, we begin to get into Alex’s head a bit at a time and eventually we learn what is really going on with him. And that is when things take a big turn into lots of excitement. I really loved the way Peterson paces this one and keeps the story so fresh and full of energy. The change of direction gives the story an exciting edge, but she gives us enough along the way so that it doesn’t feel disjointed or out of left field. Instead it is fun and suspenseful and a clever set up.
I really like how we play with the power dynamic here. Ridley starts off in his mind (and ours) as the top dog here, the one that will protect and take care of Alex. But soon we see that Alex is the real badass, leading and dominating both in and out of the bedroom. Not only does the story play on our expectations, but it also leads to some great tension between these two guys as they each fight to be the one in charge. They are super sexy together and their bedroom scenes are just scorching. I’m talking rough, hot, dirty sex full of that alpha aggression Peterson does so well. But along with that, there is just some great interaction between them as they figure out how they fit together.
So yep, I really liked this one. I know I am probably being pretty vague, but I really don’t want to spoil any of the fun here. Part of what makes this book work so well is not knowing what is really going on, so just trust me here. Read this and enjoy the ride!
Cover Review: Sigh, this is a gorgeous cover. It is not a perfect Alex, but pretty darn close. And even if it isn’t, come on, it is gorgeous right? I was captivated by this cover from the very start.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.