yogi and the bearRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

After injuring his back, construction worker Ryan Powell is willing to try anything to help get past the pain, even yoga.  He isn’t so sure about a big, bear of a man like himself doing yoga and is kind of embarrassed, but he decides to give it a shot.  When he arrives at the studio, a sudden power loss and a surprising bathroom hookup make things look better, especially when he realizes his bathroom partner is the sexy yogi leading the class.

Despite his bold moves in the bathroom, Niklas Baumgartner is freaked when he recognizes Ryan in his class. Nik is a quiet, unassuming guy who definitely isn’t normally into casual sex. In fact, he was currently celibate until something about Ryan got his attention and made him act on his feelings. Nik isn’t sure it is a good idea to try for more however. He just barely has control of his life with his awful roommates, problems at work, and other fears that keep him from getting too attached to anyone. But when Ryan pursues him for more than just a hookup, Nik finds himself drawn to the man in a way he has never been with anyone else and decides to give Ryan a chance. Ryan is a gentle giant, so caring and sweet and Nik knows Ryan would never hurt him or take advantage.

Both men find it easy to open up to each other about their interests, and soon realize that their kinks align. Ryan is a big, bear of a guy who has always liked the idea of bondage and being controlled, especially by a smaller partner. But he has been rejected in the past for voicing his interest, especially because as a big guy everyone expects him to be dominant. Nik, on the other hand, is all about control and loves to know that a much larger man like Ryan is willing to submit to him. The guys have never really experimented with BDSM before, and get some advice about the importance of talking and figuring out exactly what they both want. But the excitement and intensity between them is so high, especially as Nik gets in touch with him inner Dom, that both brush that aside in favor of the crazy hot sex. But the further along the guys get, the more intense things become, and problems begin to arise. And once trust is broken between them, it may be impossible to ever get it back.

Ooh, I really liked this one. I’ll say right now from a kink standpoint this story pushes all my buttons. I loved that big Ryan likes to be bound, and I loved seeing the two of them explore all that power and control. Nik is normally this fairly quiet, somewhat timid guy, but when he gets his dominant side out he is so intense. The guys engage in lots of power games with Nik directing the scenes and controlling Ryan’s behavior and his orgasm. I found it all crazy hot and loved seeing how both of these guys are finding what they need together.

The really interesting thread that runs through this book is that as much as the sex is hot and fabulous between them, they are also ignoring some important things that need to be addressed. They kind of gloss over ever really discussing what they both want, what their limits are, etc, in favor of jumping right into things. When there are problems, like Nik’s extreme jealousy cropping up, they often don’t get resolved in favor of more sex. As time passes, Nik ends up kind of disassociating his normal personality from his Dom one, even going so far as to think of him as another person (whom he calls Julian, his middle name). Julian can be bold and brave and talk dirty and do things that Nik is not able to do. But soon it is almost like Julian is acting apart from Nik and Nik can’t always control him. What Knox does so well here is show us glimpses of these problems as the story goes on. We can see something is not right, and at times even the characters can see it too, but it is kind of like this train wreck that we can’t stop. I found it really interesting to see this conflict, as so many things are just wonderful about this relationship, but there is also something dark curling there that we see growing with time.

I really appreciated that ultimately we see that these problems need to be addressed and by a professional.  I liked that these guys work through their issues, figure out what was going on, and come out stronger. I do think the resolution happens awfully quickly though.Nik has one session with a therapist and after that the doctor knows basically everything about him and is able to assess exactly what is wrong and how to fix it, which seems quite unlikely. And once these guys start working on things between them, they are able to move on in a fairly short time (it seemed to be just a couple of weeks).  So the resolution came together a little fast for me, but I appreciate that we really see these guys do some self reflection, some work with a therapist, and talk to each other honestly about what they want and need.

I also enjoyed the side story with Ryan’s sister, Rachel. The two of them are really close and as she is going through her own crisis, we see her lean on him. It is nice way to really get a feel for Ryan’s personality and his caring nature.  We also learn about the family life of both these guys. Ryan’s parents are strict Mormons and pretty horrible to him. Nik’s backstory is one that unfolds over the course of the book, so I won’t spoil it here, but is pretty terrible and clearly his past is a major factor on his current personality. So I think learning about their families and their pasts gives us some nice insight into their characters.

This is the first book I have read by Nix Knox and I definitely enjoyed it. I really loved both Ryan and Nik, particularly Ryan who is a total sweetheart. I think Knox does a great job subtly working the conflict into the story a bit at a time, and even things like when the story refers to the character as Nik versus Julian are carefully placed depending on his mental state and what is happening. I found the story sweet and super sexy and I loved seeing the guys work through things and come out happy on the other side.  So really well done and I’ll definitely look for more by this author.

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