Ed Winters hates his job and the people he works with. In fact, Ed pretty much hates everyone and everything ever. He hides from the world in his home, which is his sanctuary, and lives for Saturdays where he doesn’t have to get up for work. Instead, he has his routine down pat; he cleans his home in the early morning and then is at the supermarket at eleven-fifteen to do his weekly grocery shopping. But one Saturday he arrives early, and is almost immediately splashed from head to toe with Coke. The ice does delicious things to his skin, but the man who accidently dumped his drink sees it for what it is.
Marchant Belarus pegs Ed as a submissive from that first encounter, and tails Ed into the store to try and make amends. But he ends up freaking Ed out. Ed has always been told that his proclivities are wrong. In fact, his mother and grandmother spent his childhood repeatedly beating him and now all Ed can think is that they were right. He is a deviant, an abomination, and a pervert. Marchant, however, sees into Ed’s heart and knows that he can help Ed. Not only to overcome his childhood, but to help the man embrace his sexuality and his submissiveness. If only Ed will take what is offered, and stop thinking long enough to start living.
This is the second book in Sue Brown’s series, following Frankie & Al. I didn’t read the first book, and for the most part, this works really well as a standalone. I did feel, on occasion, that I was missing just a little bit, simply because Frankie plays a big role in this book and I felt like I was missing just a tiny bit of background that would have made this story richer. From the story, I was able to glean that Ed also played a part in the first book, and I think if I had read it before reading this one, then I would have a better sense of the characters. Overall though, Brown does a really good job of getting the reader up to speed. So I would say it would be helpful to have read the first book, though not entirely necessary.
I have to say that as I started reading, I didn’t like Ed at all. He’s filled with a lot of hate and loathing, and in the beginning, I found myself wondering how the author could turn this around. Oh, but she did. As the reasons behind Ed’s mental state were revealed, and as Ed showed us more of himself and his true thoughts, he turned into a really sympathetic character. He has suffered a great deal in his life. While the abuse, minus one night terror, is not on the page, Ed does talk about it, so be forewarned if that’s a trigger for you. But ultimately, Ed had to learn to think in a whole new way, and Marchant was the one to help him do that.
What I really liked here was that Marchant wasn’t some magical fix. What he was able to provide for Ed was a feeling of safety so that he could truly see that what he’d always believed about himself was wrong. While their connection does happen pretty quickly, it’s more about Marchant’s dominance appealing to the part of Ed that is truly submissive. This isn’t your typical BDSM tale. In fact, there’s only some dominance play at work. Because of Ed’s past, hard play is not a step these two men can take quickly. I really liked that Marchant saw this about Ed, and I liked that the author chose to go in this direction. These two men built trust, Ed was able to see life in a different way and begin to accept himself, and make some life altering decisions because of Marchant’s support.
That being said, I had trouble, at times, really understanding their connection. I wished we got to see more of why it was so easy for Ed to trust Marchant. And because we are solely in Ed’s head throughout the story, I didn’t always understand why Marchant was so drawn to Ed. When these guys were together on the page, their chemistry leapt out at me. However, I would have liked to see more of that to really solidify things for me.
This was a good story with fantastic writing, and if you’re willing to take the leap with Ed, then it’s definitely worth a read. Watching Ed learn, change, and take a chance at living a happy life was very rewarding. I know I’ll be going back to read the first one in the series, and keeping my eye out for any others that should come along.