Strangers in the NightRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Short story

Slade is exhausted and near freezing to death when he stumbles upon a remote cabin. Although he isn’t sure about staying with a stranger, Slade is about to collapse and doesn’t have much other choice but to accept Callum’s offer to stay the night.

Slade has spent the past year wandering around the country, trying to outrun the painful memories of his time in the military and the man he loved. He surprises himself by sharing details about his past, including some intense emotions that he usually keeps hidden. When Callum suggests that he may know a way to help Slade release some of that pain, Slade is eager to try out some BDSM play with the attractive man. Soon Slade finds himself opening up to Callum even more, both sexually and emotionally. When the bad weather clears and it is time for Slade to head back out on the road, both men must decide if the connection they have made is the answer to what each has been missing.

I am a big fan of the “snowbound” trope, and although this book is not quite the same, it still has that element of strangers being trapped together unexpectedly. I think the authors do a nice job of giving Slade an interesting back story and rolling it out for us over the course of the book. Some aspects are left kind of vague, however. For example, we never find out just why Slade is wandering around or what he is doing along the way.

While we learn a lot about Slade’s past, we don’t get much detail about Callum or his life. He lives in this remote cabin (we never learn where) and he used to be involved in the BDSM scene, but is no more. Again, we get no explanation for why he stopped, why he now lives in the middle of nowhere, etc. This is a short story, but a few small details would have gone a long way to fleshing out the characters and the world building.

As Callum learns more about Slade, he believes that some BDSM scenes will help him through some of his issues. I will admit, I found this all happened really fast. The guys have barely met and Slade needs to be told what BDSM is, and yet they are then jumping into things like wax and pain play immediately. Callum also suffers from “all knowing Dom” syndrome, somehow being able to instantly assess Slade’s mental health, figure out his issues, and determine some BDSM activities that will help address his problems. Again these guys barely know each other and yet Callum has no problem stepping in and assessing things perfectly. The story does acknowledge that Slade will need counseling and greater help, but despite liking Callum, I found him just too perfect and all knowing. Things move forward pretty quickly from there, with the guys ready for a relationship after about a day and a half together. Again, even with a short story I needed more to believe things between them.

I enjoyed the authors’ writing and I think the set up worked well. But overall I think this was a story that needed more words to really develop things, and I was left wanting more character development, more background, and more time for the relationship to grow. This looks to be the first book in a series, and despite my concerns, I do think I’d be interested in picking up the next book and seeing where it goes.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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