Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 7 hours, 4 minutes
Thornwell Shipton is a wealthy, prominent businessman who likes to have complete control. Except on Friday nights when he has a standing date with a paid escort to whom he likes to submit. When his usual escort is no longer available, Thorne reluctantly agrees to meet with Dash, thinking that if it doesn’t work out, he just can just not see Dash again. But when Dash shows up at his door, Thorne is taken by surprise. Not only is he immediately drawn to the young man, Dash is everything he needs and more. Dash gets under Thorne’s skin in a way he doesn’t expect, but he can’t wait for the following Friday and to see Dash again.
Riley Dashwood works as the escort known as Dash to save money to enroll in college, but while he enjoys his work, his true passion is baking. His new client, Thorne, is more than he ever expected and he can’t wait to see Thorne again. The older man is gorgeous and so sensual, and the way he submits to Dash is breathtaking. But their connection goes deeper than just escort and client, and soon, Dash finds himself talked into staying for the weekend instead of just a few hours on Friday night. Riley knows it’s a bad thing to fall for a client, but he can’t help himself where Thorne is concerned. And Thorne continually shows Dash that he doesn’t look down on Dash for his job.
Thorne can be an ass at times, but he stands up for Dash repeatedly. Dash fears he’s reading into the situation, putting his hopes and feelings on Thorne, when Thorne is only in it for the sex. Thorne, for his part, thinks someone as young and carefree as Dash can never want him as anything other than a client. The miscommunication between them escalates, and after Thorne’s idiotic attempt to keep them close, Dash has no choice but to say goodbye. But as the weeks drag on, neither man is happy, and both desperately want the other. It’ll take some hard work on Thorne’s part. But if he can fix himself, and see how he’s changed, the men just might have a merry Christmas after all.
The premise of this one intrigued me, and having read several of Violet’s past works, I decided to give it a try. What I found was a well written and believable tale that captured my attention and held it throughout. I loved the characters she created in Thorne and Dash, and I was sucked into their story. While the pacing dragged for me a bit at the end, I really enjoyed this book.
The story really excels in characterization. Right from the start, we get a perfect sense of exactly who Thorne is, what he wants, and how he acts. I loved that there were no question here, and that he was perfectly consistent throughout the story. When his regular plan is turned on its head, he flounders. But because it’s exactly what he needs and never expects, it works so well. I love the growth he showed throughout the story, bit by bit. First by letting Dash in, which is a huge step for him. And when he makes a huge mistake, he really shows us his human side by wallowing in his pity. But I loved that he picked himself up and worked to make changes. And then Thorne finally went after Dash, which I couldn’t wait to see and was so relieved when it finally did. This last part didn’t work as well for me, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
And then we have Dash. He steals the scene from the moment he steps on page, and I instantly adored him. He’s take charge and forceful, while still being playful and so full of life. This is a guy who knows himself well and is comfortable in his own skin. He was exactly the right counterpoint to Thorne, and their chemistry from the very first moment was electric. This is a very character driven story, and Dash/Riley is a driving force. I loved him on his own, and loved him even more with Thorne. I’ll make mention here that there is a definite D/s bent to their sexual encounters, and it sometimes goes further into BDSM play. This absolutely worked for these guys, and I liked the unusual twist that the younger man was the more dominant, the older with the need to submit. I liked the way it was explored, though I felt at times Thorne viewed it as a weakness to submit. While this was a flaw Thorne possessed, and made him feel all the more real, I would have liked to see this addressed a bit more. However, it really worked for this story, and these two characters together were so very hot.
For the most part the plot worked for me, and it was exactly as I expected it to be. This isn’t a bad thing, as the characters were what really drew me into this story. So I knew the miscommunication was coming. And I definitely have mixed feelings about the way it was handled. On the one hand, it was fitting for the characters, and felt believable to who they were. On the other, it really dragged down the last quarter of the book for me. I felt like it went on too long, as it could have been resolved with a conversation. While I liked to see Thorne working on himself, and becoming the man Dash showed him he could be, I was also waiting for them to reunite, and that took just a little too long.
Now I listened to this one in audiobook, and it was phenomenal. This narrator is a favorite of mine (Greg Boudreaux is Greg Tremblay’s more erotic counterpart) and he really excels here. I was riveted as he brought every scene to life. He captured Thorne and Dash’s personalities so perfectly, I felt as if I knew them. More than that, the emotion of each scene was perfectly portrayed. From the hot as hell sex scenes, to the emotional admissions, to the fun and playful banter, Boudreaux was spot on for every single word. I listened to this pretty much straight through, because I just couldn’t stop. So for the narration alone, I’d recommend this book to you. But it’s a good story as well, and very well written, so it’s an easy recommendation. And it’s also the first of a series. I, for one, will be checking the rest out.