Travis Wentwood is gay and his tastes run toward, how should we say it, men of the larger, rounder variety? He’s also looking to hire a new account manager for his company. Travis’ best friend and employee, JoBeth, talks with him about a man called Jeremy Roberson, telling Travis that Jeremy is a closeted gay man, even though he’d been a Dom with a female sub. Then, she breaks it to Travis that Jeremy is his next interview for the account manager position.
Jeremy once made a lot of money, but the bubble burst and he lost everything. He’s been searching for a job, but he’s not a young man, and it’s no secret that many companies would rather take on younger employees. He’s at Travis’ firm hoping for a shot. Travis is impressed with Jeremy’s looks right away, but Jeremy is concerned because of Travis’ friendship with JoBeth. He’s afraid she’ll try to talk him out of hiring Jeremy. Turns out, she gives Jeremy a hint on how to have access to Travis outside of the corporate setting.
These two men have quite a few battles ahead of them if they want to be together…the closet, daddy issues, trust issues, HR issues at work (even though Travis is in charge). The question through the story is whether it’s all worth it in the long run.
I have to say I was a bit disappointed with Butterball. The blurb intrigued me, and I have always loved to read about plus sized characters falling in love and getting a happily ever after. A few chapters in, though, I wasn’t feeling a real connection to the story or characters. Travis was ok enough. He wanted what he wanted, in his work and in his personal life. He’d been setting up an online dating profile because he didn’t want to be involved in the whole one night stand game any longer. Once JoBeth starts telling him about Jeremy, he’s intrigued. JoBeth mentions Jeremy had been a Dom to a sub-for-hire female, Annabel, and had hurt and humiliated her. Apparently, he’d gone so far as to tell Annabel she wasn’t allowed to wear panties because she smelled, but he also wouldn’t even touch her…and I’m going to say it because this is literally how it is written, no lie…softbox. Travis asks her if it could merely be a hygine issue, but JoBeth is insistant it’s not because she does the waxing. I questioned why JoBeth was waxing Annabel when she worked for Travis, but the only explanation was “He nodded and said nothing more on that topic. Neither did she”. Travis also seems to know Jeremy was Annabel’s “Master.” There’s no mention of HOW Travis is aware of this fact. He just is. Still, I see Travis as relatively harmless.
From the waiting room, Jeremy sees JoBeth and gets nervous. He even asks her not to fuck this up for him because he needed the job. So, obviously, he’s aware of everything that happened between him and Annabel. JoBeth surprises him, though, by handing him a business card with the address of a place where he’d be able to meet with Travis outside the office. I guess I can’t wrap my head around why JoBeth would do that if she thinks Jeremy was hurting Annabel. Anyway, turns out the address she gave him is a gay bar called The Pirate’s Cove, and Travis is part owner of the establishment. They chat for awhile, and Travis eventually blurts out that he can’t hire Jeremy, and the reason? “Because every time you opened your mouth, I’d want to stick my dick into it.” Rather crude, and I was put off. Not because of the dirty talk. I love dirty talk. It threw me because I did think Travis was ok, and that felt to me like he was positively ANGLING for a sexual harassment lawsuit. I was also surprised when Jeremy seemed to actually be agreeable to that and followed Travis into his office where he just, on Travis’command, fell to his knees and began to suck. I’m not offended by this, however what DID offend me was, when Jeremy began to question why Travis would want him over the thin and beautiful twinks who wanted his attention, Travis thinks to himself, “Ah, self-esteem dithering atop uncertainty. A sub, he realized, and nearly crowed his delight”. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I know a few subs. They are some of the most self confident people I’ve ever met. Their submission is their desire and their gift to their Dom. They don’t merely fall into subspace for just dominant personality shoving their dick into their throats. Also, a good Dom will cherish the gift, and treasure their sub. Especially important is the aftercare. After a scene, a sub needs to be taken care of, often with blankets, dark chocolate, and words of encouragement, peace, and affection. In this case, Travis gets off in Jeremy’s mouth, and the next chapter begins at the next day. There is no mention of Travis taking any sort of care of/with Jeremy. Did Travis attempt any kind of positive reinforcement? Did he kiss and caress Jeremy, thanking him for the gift he’d been given? Or did he just pull Jeremy to his knees, and basically give him the whole, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” treatment?
These are my two main issues with Butterball. I have a few smaller ones as well. Both men had terrible fathers. Just awful. They exchange stories about them and they’re heartbreaking. I would have prefered to hear more, though. If only the book could have been 50 or so pages longer, I think I’d have been more satisfied. Also, during Jeremy’s story, he makes mention of his younger brother, Zach. Travis says, “I’ve met him”…but where? When? Why? If he knows Zach, and about Annabel, how had he never come across Jeremy in person before? Toward the end of the book, we’re given the information Jeremy is/was a cutter. He contemplates suicide, but Travis stops him. Along with the more detailed explanation of their childhoods, I’d have loved to know how Jeremy had stopped in the first place? What was his therapy like? WAS there therapy? I feel this is a very important part of Jeremy’s character.
Now, just because I said I was disappointed in Butterball, I’m not going to say I hated it. That is most certainly not the case. Travis and Jeremy were both interesting characters. I was especially fond of Jeremy, and would love to have just hugged him and told him everything would be fine. I wanted to offer him comfort for all the wrongs he’d been dealt in his life. I admit to wanting to throttle Travis every now and then. I think he could have handled things a lot better than he had. However, once the two of them did get together, I was very happy for them. Once they figured out their dynamic, they were going to be great together. The sex scenes were a little over the top, but hot nonetheless. I do wish Travis would have prepped Jeremy a little more. The first time, there was no mention of lube, and the second only involved some spit. Mention was made of Travis having a ten inch penis, but no mention was made about Jeremy being into pain. I’m pretty sure ten inches into an unlubed hole probably hurt a LOT.
I liked the ending. It turns out Travis volunteers at a shelter for LGBTQ teens a few times a month. He talks with them…no bullshit, and they really respond well to him, so it was only fitting the book ended at the shelter on a high note. That reformed this story for me some. This is the first book in a new series by Michelle King called “Portland’s Men,” and even though this one didn’t hit a lot of high notes for me, I will not hesitate to read book two.