Thornwell “Thorne” Shipton is a workaholic business consultant millionaire who is also a closeted gay man. His only relationship was with his closeted married boss, who died suddenly more than ten years ago. Since then, Thorne has either suppressed his sexuality or hired rent boys to serve his needs and promptly leave. He’s unhappy that his recent favorite, Marc, has moved on and even further unsettled when Marc’s replacement, Dash, is even more beguiling than any man Thorne has even known.
Riley “Dash” Dashwood is a 22-year-old man with a plan. Do a bit of well-paid sex work and go to pastry school. He already works with Susan, mother of a good friend, at her catering business, but picking up his buddy Marc’s high roller client, Thorne, is his ticket into school. The thing is, Dash isn’t the fuck-and-run type. He’s much much more, and it’s fun for him to push Thorne deep into his discomfort zone.
This book’s is an erotic romance, with a believable romance that develops over the course of months of sexytime appointments. At first, Thorne keeps all his trysts relegated to Friday nights, but he’s soon hungering for more of the care and attention that Dash lavishes on him—be it a tender massage or a delicious nosh—and tentatively starts to extend their time into sleepovers and weekends. As Thorne realizes his desire for Dash extends far beyond that of a john and prostitute, he begins to change a whole lot of his habits, including his weekend workfests and keeping their entire experience behind his penthouse doors.
Dash is failing spectacularly in his struggle to not fall for Thorne. These guys have some issues, for sure, but it’s not chemistry, and it’s not compatibility. Thorne thinks Dash wouldn’t want to date a man as old as himself (he’s 42) and Dash thinks that it would be really hard for Thorne to see him as anything more than an employee. Plus, a man as cultured as Thorne surely wouldn’t want a boytoy like Dash for a partner…would he?
Expect some epic missteps and a big “find yourself” period followed by some grand gestures. Those desperate times truly called for fun and charming romantic measures! I also loved how, after their separation, they didn’t just fall back for each other immediately. They took it slow, and tried to rebuild their rapport on more than just the memories of great sex. Most of the book is told from Thorne’s POV, and I liked that mature viewpoint. This is a guy with much to lose and only Dash to gain. Or, so he thinks. Changing his attitude allowed for him to gain some new friends and build stronger bonds with important people in his life he’d shut out due to apprehension over how they would take his sexuality.
I had a couple niggles over details in the plot. I’d thought that Thorne’s dad had died based on some of his internal monologue, but that didn’t seem the case later. Also, we have NO details about Dash’s private life. I suspect there’s been some issue with his folks, and he never even thinks of this. It seemed natural to have some reflection on his own history when Thorne’s confessing his coming out nightmare, but no. And that seemed a lack, for me. I wanted to know Dash better. I recognize that this is the beginning of a three-book Dash and Thorne series, so I expect to get more information on Dash later, but he was a bit flat for me as a character. It was as if he only existed to love Thorne, and while I enjoyed him, I didn’t grow to love him. Also, I would have loved to see more of Thorne’s coming out pains on the page—particularly with his parents.
That said, the book is smoking hot, the guys are likable and clearly settling in for long haul. This series is one I’ll be following.