Syed Denir was wrongfully accused of his lover’s murder and during the trial, all his proclivities came to light. The whole world knew that Syed and Jamie engaged in a hardcore BDSM relationship, and the prosecution tried to spin that into Syed being an abusive boyfriend. But Syed was innocent and cleared of all charges. But in the years since, he’s been unable to move past losing Jamie.
Dashiell Giannopoulos was part of the legal team that defended Syed, and since the first moment they met, Dashiell has been drawn to Syed’s powerful and commanding presence. But in their few interactions in the past year, though Syed has made moves, he’s always run away, not ready for a new relationship. Dashiell, however, is certain he’s not worthy of Syed’s affection and his insecurities keep him from seeing the truth.
But neither man can forget about the other and finally, Syed is in a place where he’s ready to consider moving forward. Not move on, because he loved Jamie completely. But he’s captivated by Dashiell and wants to take things slowly. Fortunately, Dashiell agrees to dinner, which leads to more. As the two begin testing the waters, affection runs deep between them. Though Dashiell has never engaged in a D/s relationship, there are certain aspects he’s drawn to. Syed is known for being a perfect Dom, and a sadist to boot. Dashiell isn’t that kind of sub, and navigating the relationship isn’t easy for him. He finds it hard to ask for what he wants, and constantly thinks he’s not enough for Syed.
While the relationship is progressing, Dashiell has taken on a new case and the defendant is accused of killing a gay man. The potential conflict of interest is huge and Dashiell has to balance that while dating a man whose former lover was killed in a gay bashing. Syed is nothing but supportive and continues to encourage Dashiell. But when some hard truths come to light, it makes everything so much more complicated. Dashiell is horrified, and it takes Syed’s patience and understanding to pull him from it. But if Syed can’t find a way to love Dashiell fully, they’ll never find their way forward.
In this follow up to Aftercare, we get to see Syed healing from Jamie’s death and finding love again. As soon as this book came up for review, I grabbed it quickly. I loved Aftercare, and I couldn’t wait to see what the author would do with Syed. He was a crushed and broken man, and understandably so, and I couldn’t wait to see how he would find love again. I will say here that the author includes a prologue that brings the reader up to date nicely, so reading Aftercare isn’t necessary to read Aftershock. But I will also tell you that reading them in order gives them even more weight and really deepens the emotions.
My heart went out to both the MCs. They are both broken, in different ways and for different reasons. But together, their chemistry lights up the page and there’s no doubt that they are both perfect to help heal the other. Syed isn’t the man he once was, and he’s changed in ways he doesn’t even realize. Dashiell has been hurt before emotionally and he needs someone strong and dominant to just love him. Together, these guys drive the plot as they grow, heal, and learn to love each other. I absolutely loved watching the progression of their relationship. The slow burn was perfect for them, and really escalated the tension between them in the best possible way.
One thing I particularly enjoyed was the way Syed and Dashiell found their own footing within a power exchange relationship. There were things Dashiell wanted and needed, and Syed did everything he could to figure them out, even when Dashiell couldn’t put a name to them. The care and attention really struck a chord with me. On top of that, it shows a different side to BDSM, one that is very real, but we don’t often get to see in books. I was pleased with the way these guys found what worked for them, and how they came to the perfect place for them.
Syed, of course, had a huge love with Jamie. And though he’s not a character in flesh, per se, Jamie’s there throughout this book. I thought the author handled it extremely well. It was a fine line to walk. Syed still loves Jamie, and he can never completely let that go. But in order to love Dashiell, he has to find away to open his heart. For me, this was a particularly touching aspect to the book, though I wish it hadn’t come quite so late in the telling.
But there’s more to this book than just the amazing relationship of the MCs. There’s a lot going on with Dashiell’s case, and that too, drives the story. I don’t want to give too much away, but it really showcases law and justice, and does it in a truly believable way. No TV law here, folks. But real and necessary. I was impressed with the conflict of interest and how it was dealt with. And when things take a turn, with how it all played out. It definitely added layers to this book.
So all I can say is I loved this book, especially after having read it’s precursor. It has everything that’s needed for a fantastic read: great characters; outstanding, descriptive writing; and the right amount of layers and emotion.