Benny Sagan has held a torch for his boss Jason Bonner for far too long, but that’s all it can ever be, because Jason’s a Dom and no matter how much Benny expresses a desire to know more about his world, Jason will never see him that way. At least that’s what Benny thinks. As Jason’s personal assistant, Benny handles the goings on at the BDSM club Jason owns as well as Jason’s personal duties, such as his kink photography. This is where Benny first sees Rain, Jason’s model. Rain, with his flowing blue hair and open smile tied above a spike, was beautiful and everything Benny wanted to be, because he was everything that Jason needed and everything that Benny wasn’t.
Benny’s jealousy for Rain is somewhat of a conundrum because underneath that the spike of arousal hits hard. When Rain, who continues to scene at the club with Jason, devises a plan to help Benny get Jason, Benny reluctantly agrees. All it will take is Benny and Rain, their white hot sexual attraction, and a video camera. One night is all they have, then Rain assures Benny that Jason will be his, but for that one night, Benny will have both Jason and Rain.
Jason Bonner has had a soft spot for Benny as long as he’s known him, but he’s convinced himself that Benny is not a sub and therefore could never fulfill his needs. When Benny and Rain’s plan to seduce Jason gives Jason both the man he wants and the submission he craves, he finds himself wanting things he thinks he has no right to wish for—like both men, Benny and Rain.
The night with Jason was everything that Benny had hoped for and so much more, but even so he still finds himself thinking of Rain—the man who gave him everything and asked for nothing. And while Rain is still around and still finds time to play with Jason and Benny, he’s busy at work and with other guys, the latter of which Benny finds himself despising. He realizes he wants both Jason and Rain, and why can’t he have both?
When Rain announces he’s shooting a new porn video, something he swore he’d never do again, Benny goes on alert. Jason doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t own Rain so he can’t stop it. After work one night, Benny follows Rain to his dressing room and meets Don, Rain’s producer or pimp or handler—whatever the man wants to call himself—who strong arms Benny, then mentions the video he made with Rain. Betrayed and hurt, Benny walks away from Rain, crushed by the loss of a friendship and brokenhearted.
But after Jason finds out and punishes them both in the most wondrous of ways, Rain disappears, leaving Benny to wonder if the relationship between he and Jason can even survive without Rain, and leaving Jason lost without the man he’d called his sub, the one who thought he was simply replaceable.
Bound to Please is the second book in Kimberly Gardner’s Playing for Keeps series. This is the second edition of the book, newly released, revised, and re-edited through Loose Id. Monday, I gave you the review of Phoenix Rising, the first book in this series. Today, let me present to you my favorite of the two, and that’s saying something because where I’m not opposed to ménages (far from it), I usually have a hard time finding them remotely believable. But this book takes believable to a whole new level. You see, in my mind’s eye, when I think about three people in a relationship—whether it be three men, three women, two man and a woman, or two women and a man—I can’t get past wondering about the level of jealousy they must have suffered in the beginning or may suffer day to day. This book, this author, makes those questions reality and, in turn, makes the relationship between Jason, Benny, and Rain so very real and poignant.
It’s that realism that draws me to these guys, especially to Benny, which is where this story begins, so I think I’ll start with him too. Purple haired Benny is more than he seems when the book opens. He’s sort of awkward and learning who and what he is. Jason has never really given him a chance to learn about what being submissive means, so his questions have gone unanswered until Jason’s old friend Mario shows up. Mario sort of turns their world on its ear. He shows up out of nowhere and basically tells Jason that Benny is a sub and is Jason’s for the taking, but does Jason listen? That’d be a resounding no. You see, this story for Benny is self-discovery. One moment he was floundering and the next he knows what he wants but not how to get it. Benny’s journey is the one in which he learns that being submissive is more than kneeling at his Master’s feet and taking a lash or two. When Benny finally gets Jason, really gets him, he realizes that he can’t have Jason without Rain too, because as subservient as Benny is, he’s not the masochist that Jason needs. The vulnerability and doubt, the insecurity and jealousy, it causes is eye opening and healing for Benny, but it doesn’t come easy. He has to work for it. They all do.
Jason… well, Jason is your typical growly Alpha Dom—just like I like ‘em. Geez, the man is sexy. My love for Jason comes from his need to please everyone. Stereotypically, Doms may be seen as a greedy bunch, but here not so much. Yes, Jason takes what he needs from whomever he chooses to scene with, but he’s also giving that person exactly what they need. I think a lot of Jason’s issue in the beginning is that he wants Benny so badly, but has no idea how to give the man what he needs, and for Jason not knowing how to act or react is crippling. His saving grace is Rain, who turns out to be the answer to his S & M prayers, but taming Rain is more difficult than he’d have thought possible. Then he realizes his folly in failing to balance the relationship between the three of them and how without his guidance both Benny and Rain seem to falter.
Rain’s role in this book is one of the reasons that I love this author so much. Not once throughout this entire story do we read a scene from Rain’s POV. Not once. Yet I know him as well as I know both Benny and Jason because Gardner is a goddess of characterization. I love Rain for all of his cockiness and self-assuredness, but also for his self-doubt and insecurities. He’s broken and damaged and probably feels that he’s not worthy of the love that waits for him. But when he lets himself accept it, for however long, the beauty of his submission, of his love is all encompassing. For all his screw ups, Rain is the most giving and self-sacrificing person in this book and suffers the most for it. His past follows him to the point of ruining his trust with Benny, yet he never gives up on trying to earn that back. And when Benny finally gets Jason, no matter how much Rain wants to be part of it, no matter the jealousy eating him from the inside out, Rain would never hurt Benny.
You see, this story, while about the intertwining of the lives of three characters, is also about the reality of what fear, jealousy, and insecurities can do to a relationship when not spoken aloud. Once again, Gardner tears my heart out with her words and plot. This story is completely engrossing and beautifully captivating. The emotions almost literally jump off the page while the characters capture reader’s hearts. I’m once again stunned by the beauty and heat this author writes into this relationship. Scorching barely touches the surface.
Another thing I love about this author is how she reaches outside the box. The kink in Bound is off the charts. Sadism and masochism are the name of the game here, but let me attempt to allay any concerns that it gets too bad. What Gardner does in this story is give readers a peek inside a private world of pain and pleasure. It’s both scary and thrilling. But Gardner doesn’t embellish the details in a way that is overly grotesque. What is described in this story as the dark side of BDSM is tastefully descriptive and respectful of both the Dominant and the submissive, of which I am very appreciative.
I love this book, love these characters, and love the world this author has created. My hope is that with the re-release of these books, Gardner will add new stories to this series because there are so many guys I want to see again—namely Hainey, but I’m not pushing. I highly, highly recommend Bound to Please by Kimberly Gardner.