Andy’s plan is to be an actor, yet to do that he needs a job as an actor. When the parts are not coming in, he tries to fake his way through an interview as a bartender at an upscale hotel. Andy is ridiculously attracted to his hot boss, Ethan, who may just have some extreme control issues. When the full scope of Ethan’s need to control, both in bed and out, is fully revealed, Andy finds it intense, arousing, and just what he didn’t even know he was looking for to bring his life under control. He also begins to realize that Ethan needs him too. What started as an arrangement of sorts for mutual sexual pleasure and to bring Andy’s life into focus may just be what the men need to find true happiness.
Life Under New Management is appropriately titled as this is the story of Andy getting his life managed. Andy is just barely getting by on his looks and has little motivation to really apply himself. He instantly wants to impress Ethan, but Ethan is almost finished with Andy and his attitude before things ever get started. Ethan is quietly in control and everything has to be just so in both his work life and his home life. He pushes Andy away at first as Ethan is not just seeking a sex partner. Ethan is looking for someone he can advise and bring into focus, someone who will give himself over sexually, not quite a submissive, but someone that enjoys the pain. And, Andy realizes just how much he does enjoy the pain. There were plenty of sex and D/s elements here but it was all very far removed emotionally as they were not having a romantic relationship at first. They are both balancing out a need of giving and taking.
This was the book that I kept expecting would get better and I thought the next scene and then the next scene would be the one to draw me in. It never quite happened. Andy is whiny and needy and petulant. He nags Ethan even to the point of nagging out a declaration of love from him. Ethan is far removed. The story is told from Andy’s POV and we learn almost nothing about Ethan and his background. When a small glimpse is offered, details are shelved until the end of the book, where it is too little and way too late in the story. By the end of the book, Andy barely knew anything about him either. A lot had to be happening with Ethan during the story, but we weren’t invited in or even allowed to look. While Andy does have some growth over the course of the book, by the time it was starting to show I was not attached to him at all. Since the men are keeping their relationship a secret, a good portion of their story is told from the bedroom. There are plenty of erotic scenes here involving Ethan giving out “consequences” or rewards as the case may be, all within the realm of play. While reading an erotic novel, however, the goal is not to want to skim over the erotic scenes, but these two did not hold my attention. This was a character driven novel without offering depth to those characters. I have reservations about recommending this one, but it may have some appeal elsewhere