For the last two years, Malcolm Tate has been living with the crushing guilt that since he wasn’t enough for his sub, the man left and ended up in the hands of serial killer. Malcolm hasn’t dominated anyone in all that time. But a frank discussion with this best friend that has been a long time coming has Mal seeing the error of his thought process, and after reevaluting everything, he’s ready to get back into it. Which is how he ends up at the Christmas slave auction at his local dungeon. And how the beautiful boy in the cage catches his eye.
Kyle Bingham only recently learned of his submissive side, and he’s been training at the hands of a skilled Dom. But Kyle is gay, though he’s firmly in the closet, and is looking for a Dom that will control him sexually as well. His past few experiences haven’t gone well, but when he meets Mal, and when Mal wins him in the auction, sparks fly. Their connection is instant and intense, and their scene is powerful. The men instantly embark on a relationship, both worrying they are moving too fast, but both feeling those deep emotions.
Mal and Kyle can’t get enough of each other and spend the weekends together, as well as several nights during the week. Even when they are not together, Mal is still Kyle’s Master, and gives him very specific instructions to keep him on edge and needing, without allowing him release. They quickly find an almost 24/7 lifestyle, and it’s working well. But when Kyle is outed to his parents, and admits the truth instead of lying, he’s disowned just as he feared he would be. His resulting choices truly test the bond that has been growing between him and Mal, and he may have gone too far and ruined everything between them.
Normally, we save any quibbles we have with a story for the end, but I’m going to start with them here so I can get to the gushing. Basically, I enjoyed this book from the start, and I particularly liked Mal and Kyle. There were a couple of points where the story slowed down too much for me, leaving the narrative lagging. It’s also told in alternating first person POV, which is not something I personally always find appealing. Here it worked really well, for the most part, and the sections were clearly marked. But I did, on a few occasions, get confused and it pulled me from the story while I backtracked a few sentence to get my bearings. Now, these two quibbles were enough that I needed to mention them, and it brought down my rating by half a point, but other than these two points, I really, really enjoyed this book.
Mal is an endearing character to start the book. He’s had it rough, thinking that he pushed his friend and sub away and into the arms of another Dom. Who turned out to be a serial killer. I’ll admit that this part went really fast, and that Mal seemed to let go of his guilt after one conversation with his best friend, Cam. So it maybe didn’t have the weight it was supposed to for me. However, I did feel how much Mal had been missing by being out of the scene, and how good it was for him to get back in it. Mal’s sadistic side was perfectly balanced with his caretaking side, and he was a wonderfully nuanced and well-drawn character. I loved his instant and intense attraction to Kyle, and I love how he commanded the page when he was present. Really, he was incredibly well written, and I believed whole heartedly that he could have stepped off the page and into real life.
We see Kyle through Mal’s eyes first, and I think that really sets us up to love Kyle as much as Mal does. This guy has had a rough life, but it’s because his parents are neglectful and rely on their money and prestige. And for the moment, Kyle is still dependent on his parents for his apartment and his car, but he is smartly saving and striving toward an independent life. Kyle, too, was incredibly well done. His thought process, reactions, and action, were utterly fitting for his character. I even understood where his insecurities played into his choices at the end, and though I didn’t agree, and thought he should have seen things differently, I at least understood why Kyle did the things he did. It made the ending so much less frustrating than it could have been for me, and it didn’t feel like just a plot device. I appreciated that so much.
I have to make mention of the play here, because it is at times very intense. Kyle likes pain and orgasm denial, and Mal is a sadist that pushes Kyle as far as he can without going over. A big deal is made of safe, sane, and consensual play, or at least Risk-Aware Consensual Kink, and I think it was important to point out. It was also, thankfully, not overdone. What I really loved about Mal and Kyle’s relationship was how intimate they were with one another, and how the play was what the both wanted and needed, and it showed just how close it could bring them. They both truly got what they needed from it, and it made this book really beautiful. The scene where Mal fed Kyle blindfolded was one of the most sensual scenes I have ever read.
So yeah, really, this book worked for me. Yes, there were a couple of things that pulled me out of the story. But guys, if you’re looking for incredibly well written characters and some beautiful, if intense, BDSM play, then this book is absolutely for you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.