settling downRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novella

Jae and Tim are settling into their relationship and have started a domestic discipline arrangement, something Tim has been craving. As Head of Household, Jae is responsible for Tim’s care and well being, helping him handle the OCD and stresses that Tim battles. Tim likes structure and order and Jae can provide that. In return, Tim cares for Jae and the house, working to make Jae’s life smooth and easy.

However, there are some stumbling blocks that the guys are facing. One of the most significant is that they don’t live together, which makes it hard to maintain the kind of relationship they want when they are not together all the time. When both Jae parents and Tim’s father come to visit at the same time, things get even worse, as both men are dragged in different directions trying to spend time with their families, keeping them apart more than normal. And this is particularly problematic as someone from Tim’s past returns, shaking him up and leaving him stressed and vulnerable and needing Jae more than ever.

Now the men must figure out how they can make things work when both are distracted and being kept apart. Jae is determined that he will not let Tim flounder, and will do whatever it takes to help Tim through the tough times.

Settling Down is the sequel to Nicole Forcine’s Shaken Up, and continues the story of Jae and Tim. I really enjoyed the first book and was happy to see a follow up story, particularly one that focused more on the domestic discipline side of things as this dynamic was introduced in the first book, but never really explored. I liked seeing the men together again and viewing their relationship a few months down the line. It is clear these guys care for one another and are growing into their new roles. I also enjoyed seeing the bits from Tim’s sex shop and watching him interact there and with his employees. It gives a nice balance to show how strong and confident he is there in his element as he struggled with other emotional issues at home.

However, unfortunately I found this story somewhat flat. There are some nice sex scenes between them, but the physical side of things isn’t as strong here as in the first book, either in the intensity of the BDSM or the heat between them. The domestic discipline is addressed, but we don’t see it delved into very deeply here. Most of the book felt like watching these guys entertain their parents and interact with them, all while not dealing with each other very directly. I wanted more of the guys together, more exploring their new relationship dynamic, instead of so much time showing them apart.

In addition to being pulled away to deal with their parents, the bigger conflict is Tim facing Max, the Dom from his past who nearly killed him. Seeing Max is devastating for Tim and dealing with it just amplifies the issues Tim is already having. Again, this just didn’t feel as intense as I wanted. Maybe it is because I haven’t read the first book in a while and I didn’t remember the specifics of what happened between them. It’s not that I felt like Tim was overreacting or anything, but I had trouble feeling the urgency because I didn’t really remember what happened and we don’t get enough reminder details.

I was also kind of bugged by the way this resolved, namely Jae’s intervention. Tim has some pretty significant legal issues related to how he can interact with Max and what he can say about him. And Jae’s solution to Tim’s stress seemed to put Tim at some significant risk. Yes, he is the Dom and Head of Household, but I felt like Jae way overstepped and at the very least should have taken the time to consult some legal help before making a move that could have left Tim losing his business.

So I think the basics of the story were good and I enjoyed seeing the characters again. But the book just didn’t grab me the way the same was as the first one. I guess I wanted more of their connection, more intensity for the book, and more time together. But I think that if you enjoyed the first book, it is still worth giving this one a try, if only to catch up with Jae and Tim and see their happy ending.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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