Shea is eighteen and barely getting by after being kicked out by his parents. His living situation with his ex is tentative and hostile, not to mention the fact that he owes his roommates money. Shea finally has a job in a restaurant and he still hasn’t lost hope. His day gets a bit brighter when he meets David, a wealthy man that immediately captures Shea’s attention with his dominant and attentive nature.
David is equally captivated by the nervous and rambling Shea. For being twenty-five, David has a lot of responsibility to uphold between his businesses and his family name. His world of bodyguards is isolating, but the gay club he owns is where he can let his dominant side roam free. When Shea is attacked shortly after their meeting, David offers Shea a place to stay and recover, never realizing he is putting Shea into even more danger from within David’s own family. David wants all of Shea in every way, but Shea knows nothing of the scene that is David’s world and the stakes of Shea’s security are high, so much higher than Shea could ever imagine.
Loving the Master is the prequel book in the Manse series. While David and Shea were characters in the earlier books, this is the story of their beginning and can be read as a stand alone. Also, if you are familiar with Kelling’s work you will be aware that the author generally packs a punch on many levels and, while there is violence and scenes of BDSM here, comparatively, I am going to classify this as Kelling lite.
Shea is easy to fall for instantly. He’s young, he’s naïve and nervous, and he’s had a rough time that continues on a downward spiral. Now this is a classic story with opposite characters and an older, dominant experienced man that is paired with a younger, completely inexperienced, destitute guy. While David is only twenty-five, his life, success, and responsibility do give him an older vibe. But, it’s what Kelling does with them that makes all of the difference.
David is attracted to Shea immediately and then circumstances have him offering Shea shelter. David’s father is unhinged, their relationship is volatile, and Shea gets caught up in that in the worst of ways. David cannot forgive himself, will never forgive his father, and becomes completely and utterly protective of Shea although there is good reason and an uncontained threat.
Woven into this is the fact that David is a highly trained, well respected Dom and owns his own club. The club is pristine and exclusive, but serious in what it offers and is complete with its own medical suite for those that like to play rough. Enter Shea who is a virgin and David slowly seduces Shea to the world of submission and exhibitionism with a touch of humiliation. But David is also getting so much in return from Shea, who is not looking for anything from David but to love him and ease the loneliness that is a product of his isolation.
So much of this story worked for me and offered exactly what it states it will. But a few things didn’t work as well. David and Shea are never alone and I mean never. David has 24-hour security, which is reasonable to the threats they are facing, but there is always someone watching and there is always a security guard inside every room, even David’s private bedroom. There is only one scene where David is alone in his office making a phone call. Every move, touch, and word is watched and heard by a security guard and, while it is addressed later as being somewhat of a turn off when Shea is just a touch more comfortable, I did wonder why they couldn’t have even one moment of privacy. Also, their relationship is never clearly defined to the reader or to Shea for that matter. It’s clear that Shea is completely David’s, but it seems that David will still train Doms or possibly take on submissives and I would have liked a clearer picture on that.
Kelling certainly knows how to craft a story and it’s impossible for me to pass up one of her books. If you are looking to try her work but didn’t want to go too dark this is an excellent place to start. If you are familiar with her work, this still offers her signature style with plenty to hold your interest of an experienced Dom not only training a new sub but finding a life partner in the process.