Today Veronica is reviewing three stories from the 2015 Dreamspinner Daily Dose Collection – Never Too Late. For more Daily Dose reviews, click here.
A Life Without by Katya Harris
Todd is a 41-year-old man who is new to the BDSM scene. He had a long-term relationship with Lionel, who found Todd’s submissive desires to be obscene and appalling. Todd is restarting his life, sans-Lionel, and is tentative but determined. He meets Malik, a 30-year-old Middle Eastern man at his new club. Malik is a dominant, and very interested in Todd. They begin an acquaintance, with Malik exerting his Dom influence from the very start. It is thrilling and fulfilling to Todd in a way he has long desired.
I really enjoyed the steps Malik took to ensure Todd’s comfort. The story is told from Todd’s POV, so I was fully engaged with Todd’s wonder and excitement. I liked that Malik was kind, conscientious, and patient with Todd. Todd has a self-confidence issue following his break-up with Lionel and Malik really builds Todd back up. It was sweet. The BDSM elements are small, and not all on the page. Todd and Malik develop a quick bond that enables Todd to feel confident and positive about his sexual desires and needs, which I loved.
His Fallow Heart by Ava Hayden
Finn Garrity is in his early fifties and resigned to a lonely life. He has a large farm on the Alberta prairie, but no lover. His last boyfriend left years ago, and there aren’t many gay men in his area. While dining at his local eatery, Finn observes a beautiful man and young boy. Finn delays his departure to study the man a moment; when he overhears that they are looking for snowy owls to photograph as the boy’s school project, he offers to take them out on his farm to a known snowy owl nest. He then learns that Kyle is Philip’s nephew, and feels a little thrill over the signals he believes Philip sends him. Still Finn is tentative.
Though a mature man, Philip is clearly younger than Finn and very attractive. He’s also an artist and a cultured man. They spend an afternoon together—Finn, Philip, and Kyle—photographing snowy owls and sharing a meal. They exchange numbers. Their brief encounter is enough for both men to catch a spark. Finn discounts it, while Philip attempts to nurture it. He invites Finn to his latest gallery showing. Philip goes, unannounced, and Philip is delighted. They connect, and it’s as tender and necessary as either man had hoped for. Still, Finn can’t fathom how Philip could want a dried-up old farmer.
This really is a very sweet story with a little bit of conflict based on eavesdropping on jealous people’s nasty comments. I adored how respectful and tentative both Finn and Philip with each other. And, it was so enjoyable to see that their partnership is not only excellent in the physical sense. Philip loves the peace and inspiration for his art he finds out on Finn’s farm. The ending is an abrupt HEA, related as an epilogue. Honestly, I wanted to have a bit more of their experience in their own words. That was my only qualm with this story.
Jack Wolf by Kay Walker
This is a steampunk/paranormal romance between a government agent and an aging rebel werewolf. Henry is sent to investigate several reports of a rogue lycanthrope (werewolf) ravaging livestock out in the western town. Henry is no stranger to werewolves—he was bonded to one in his teens, but his lover had died in the Pack Rebellion ten years ago. His contact is Jack, formerly Jacques Leroux, a leader in the Pack Rebellion. Their first touch, a handshake at greeting, reveals a spark, a physical reaction that indicates a favorable mating.
Henry is resolved not to become physical with Jack, despite his desire, because doing so may compromise his investigation. Henry spends two months in the classic western town, living in a room at the saloon, interviewing witnesses and tracking down as many clues on the rogue lycanthrope as he can. He is enchanted by Jack’s many mechanical devices in his workshop, and grows to really like the man—but his duty must be done. In a daring attempt to close the case, Henry attempts to apprehend the rogue.
I really enjoyed the setting here. The western experience was well-described with fun steampunk elements, including clockwork devices, steam-powered appliances, and airships. Jack and Henry are really excellent men, both of whom feel a lot of personal loyalty. The townsfolk assume that Henry’s mission is to destroy his target, while Henry only seeks to restrain his quarry. Jack is a great mediator, and protector of his lycanthropic friend and Henry. The long timeframe of the story allowed for development of a relationship between Jack and Henry that is not simply physical—they were able to be friends first, which I liked. Both Jack and Henry never anticipated finding a new mate, and their delight with each other is contagious.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.