Avery Hextell is a junior architect at a prestigious architectural firm. Despite having great ideas, Avery tends to stick to his principles of building eco-friendly buildings. When his designs are consistently rejected, Avery is convinced his straight, uptight project manager just doesn’t like him. After one rejection too many, Avery confronts his project manager, Malin Lacroix, in his office. Malin tells Avery that these rejections aren’t personal, but a matter of being cost prohibitive for his designs to be built and therefore keeping them on the drawing board.
Taking Malin’s advice, Avery submits plans for a new performing arts center. When his design is chosen, Avery and Malin are forced to work closely together. As the two spend more time with each other, Avery finds himself fantasizing about Malin. When Avery and Malin engage in some kinky office play, Avery finds himself falling for Malin, while Malin remains are distant as he was before they started engaging in sexual encounters. When Avery’s friends convince Avery that he needs to walk away and stop being Malin’s dirty little secret, Avery finds that he can’t.
Confronting Malin, Avery learns that Malin has been keeping his own secret hidden. In order for Avery and Malin to build a future together, Avery must help Malin face the tragedy of his past.
After reading this book, I was wondering why I had never read any of this author’s previous works before, only to be stunned that this is a debut novel! While the BDSM/kink elements may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the writing is phenomenal. Told from Avery’s point of view, readers will find themselves laughing at this man’s thoughts and actions. He’s a riot – obnoxiously funny, impulsive, and with absolutely no filter whatsoever. A bisexual man, he has no problems seeking sex from men or women.
Malin, on the other hand, is much harder for readers to get a feeling for. He took a while to grow on me. He came across as the total alpha male, yet a very straight one at that. When he and Avery begin engaging in sexual encounters, his words and actions did come across as wanting to keep Avery as his dirty, little secret. In fact, except for the fact that Avery told his friends (and readers) of his encounters with Malin, one would wonder whether those were a figment of Avery’s imagination or whether they were real because of how distant he was with Avery outside of the bedroom.
Speaking of the bedroom, these two definitely like a little spice. Readers should be aware that there is choking, breath play, biting, and beatings bad enough to leave bruises and that neither Avery nor Malin are interested in maintaining safety – at least initially. As a reader, there was one scene that was a total turnoff for me, one that involved Malin using a belt on Avery while he was angry – though he apologized afterwards, it rubbed me the wrong way – but, on the other hand, it also marked a point where we begin to see a different vibe in their relationship where it isn’t based solely on sex, but where there are emotions involved too.
The secondary characters really helped to bring this story to life. Avery’s best friend and bedroom buddy who has cut off Avery from receiving any friends-with-benefits and Avery’s and Malin’s co-worker/friend really help give us a complete picture of who Avery is without stealing the show.
Overall, this was a great read. While there isn’t a HEA, we do get a HFN ending and the feeling that there may be the possibility of more to come from these two characters. If you like a bit of kink in your reading, you’ve got to check out this book!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.