Nash and Joshua are still working through their Dom/sub relationship. Joshua’s abusive past, feelings of self loathing, and need for extreme pain mean that finding the right path forward is difficult. While Joshua has some good days, he still wants to be out of his own head much of the time, unable to deal with encroaching memories. That is what drew him to wanting increasing levels of pain in the past, despite the fact that he put himself in danger. But while things are better with Nash, and Joshua feels safer, he knows he can’t trust that anything good will last in his life. He is struggling to keep his memories at bay and is restless and uncertain about his future.
Nash knows that Joshua needs time and patience in order to trust him. At the same time, it is hard for Nash not to push when Joshua refuses to confide in him or share his feelings. Nash has always been confident in his skills as a Dom, but he is not sure he is reaching Joshua or that he knows how to be what Joshua needs. But Nash refuses to give up and is determined to help Joshua find the peace and happiness that has long eluded him. Now both men have to trust in one another and be patient as they work things through, and hopefully they can find their way to a happy life together.
The Edge is the third book in SJD Peterson’s Underground Club series, but it follows directly on the heels of Limitless, the second book in the series that introduced Nash and Joshua. As such, you will want to have read that book first in order to get the beginning of their story.
One of the things I appreciated in the first book that I liked here as well is that we aren’t seeing a perfect Dom/sub relationship where the Dom always knows exactly what to do. And even better, where not everything is solved with magic Domming. Nash is at a lost a lot of the time as how to best proceed with Joshua. There are still times where I think Nash is unjustifiably cocky about his own skills, but most of the time he is aware of his limitations and is working hard to figure out how to best meet Joshua’s needs. He also encouraged Joshua to see a therapist in the first book and those visits continue here. It gave the story a nice complexity and a different approach to the BDSM elements than I often see. I was glad to see the guys reach a point where things may not be perfect, but at least Joshua doesn’t seem so haunted anymore.
However, I did have some struggles with this book. First, the pacing felt off here. We have more than a book and a half where things are a total mess for Joshua. We are well into this story and Joshua is still having very dark thoughts and there are questions about the possibility of self harm. Then it seems like things suddenly turn a corner, for reasons I don’t fully understand, and we get some mild improvement, then just jump to an epilogue where they get their happily ever after. It just seems like we missed the whole portion where we see Joshua’s recovery, how they work through things, how he gets from ok to happy. It ended up feeling too fast for me after all that lead in and I had a hard time really then buying this ideal ending.
I also never really felt the chemistry between these guys, something that again continued from the first book. That first story starts with Nash already pretty infatuated with Joshua, so we sort of jump in without really knowing what is bringing on this connection Nash feels. Things continue here with the guys clearly sexually compatible, but I never got a sense of them actually having any connection aside from that. While there are lots of sex scenes between them, we rarely see them interacting in a way that can give us a sense of them as a couple. Most of the time they are not doing a scene or having sex, we are in only one of their heads as they each struggle with their confusion and fears about how to move forward. At one point, Nash talks about how Joshua is his other half, how perfect they are together, and I just felt confused because I didn’t see it at all. Even at the end, I didn’t feel any real connection between them or sense of why they worked as a couple, why Joshua came to trust Nash, or why he wanted to be with him other than that Nash was good to him.
As part of Joshua’s therapy, he keeps a journal and we see written excerpts from that throughout the book. On one hand, I think it was good to get a sense of what is really going through his head, as he doesn’t talk to Nash at all about his feelings (and often is clearly manipulating Nash to disguise how he really feels). But at the same time, it felt like a lot of info dump, of just telling us everything he was feeling, rather than showing us or incorporating it into the story. It ended up just seeming like a recitation of his issues to short cut and get the reader into his head, rather than building it into the plot or his character development.
I did like getting the conclusion of Joshua and Nash’s story and appreciated seeing them come to their happy ending. But I also felt this one was somewhat lacking in terms of developing their relationship or really letting us see how things were able to improve and move forward for both men.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.