Blair Clark is looking for a job. He lost his last one due to a sexual harassment complaint he filed. Turns out, the proof he had suddenly “disappeared” while in the custody of the police. While Blair wasn’t fired, he was encouraged to leave the office. He’s had to move back in with his mother, and every interview he goes on doesn’t pan out after the potential employer hears about how his last job ended.
Blair is in a friends with benefits type of relationship with a man named Travis, who takes advantage of the situation. He has no problem using Blair for sex, but he’s very mean to him out in public and in front of his friends. The night before Blair is to have another interview, Travis and his friends are teasing him over his slight frame and the fact he’s interviewing for a secretary position. They say things like, “Why not wear a dress,” and Travis laughs right along with them. When Blair gets up to leave, Travis grabs his arm and when Blair falls to the ground, he knocks into a man who helps him up. When Blair sees that man’s face, he’s alarmed and reacts rather badly, even though the man wants to help him.
Jack Ross is that man. He’s also the man who will be interviewing Blair for the secretary job. He has a port wine stain on his face, and sometimes people aren’t very nice to him. Even his own mother seems to be ashamed of him. At first, his interview with Blair seems to be going well, but a misunderstanding at the end leaves Blair storming out. Jack calls Blair two days later and offers him the job, much to Blair’s shock.
Over the next several weeks, Blair and Jack develop a great working relationship, and Blair finds himself falling for Jack. He’s looked behind that port wine stain, and only sees Jack’s beautiful blue eyes and his kind and generous personality. Travis refuses to give up on seeing Blair, even though Blair wants nothing to do with him anymore. Once Jack finds out what Travis has done to Blair, he’s ready to help Blair file a police complaint. Also, this is the push he needs to reveal to Blair that he’s had feelings for him. Things go from bad to worse, however, and Blair’s humiliation seems complete. Jack isn’t about to let that stand.
There is nothing about Stained I didn’t like. Main characters who have obstacles to overcome before they can be together, some pretty good background characters, some angst, but nothing overwhelming, sweet romance, and hot sex are all combined to make a story I was very happy to read. Blair was so fragile and sweet, and all I wanted to do was scoop him up and love all his pain away. I was able to live vicariously through Jack, thankfully, because that man did exactly that. It’s not that Blair was weak. He’d just had some really bad breaks, and coupled with his small stature (Jack called it willowy, and that is perfect), it made people think he was. Jack warmed my heart. He had decided it didn’t matter how people looked at him and his port wine stain. He was who he was, and if they didn’t like it, tough. It did hurt him that his mother saw him as being less than perfect, and I was sad for him. These men find each other at the exact right time. Their chemistry is off the charts from the beginning, even though they were only boss/employee/friends at first. It took something so utterly horrible to make them act upon their feelings. My jaw dropped when I read what Travis had done, and even though he’s a character in a book, he’s damn lucky to be alive. Jack (and I) wanted to rip him in two, and he totally deserves to have that happen to him.
I liked Blair’s Mom and Jack’s Dad. They were well written, and even though they didn’t play major parts in the story, they were still necessary to move it along. They cared about their sons, and they were very supportive of them. Blair’s sister got on my nerves a bit. I get that she protected him throughout school when they were younger, but he’s an adult now, and even though there were some bad things happening to him, I found it frustrating that she felt she could just barge into Blair’s bedroom, knowing full well he had Jack in there, and start reading him the riot act for not calling her for help. Boundaries, people…boundaries are an important thing to have with your grown siblings!
I want to talk about the dynamic of Jack and Blair’s relationship. Jack is most definitely the alpha, but he’s not a total alpha. He wants to protect and take care of Blair, but he’s not one of those guys who feel the need to be obsessed. I loved how he lifted Blair into his lap to comfort him after Travis’s dirty deed. He just held him, and stroked him, and kissed him lightly. It was so sweet, and in my opinion, so sexy. Yes, I enjoy reading about sex. In fact, some consider me a real sex hound when it comes to my books, but there is something to be said for gentle touches and kisses. Sometimes they’re even sexier than, well, sex. Jack and Blair had a deep connection, and I could feel that.
I do not hesitate to recommend this book. This is the first title by Chris T. Kat I’ve read, and I intend to read more.
Note: This story has some mild scenes of physical abuse that could be a trigger for some.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.