When a bad experience with a hook up lands Rider Dillinger at the campus health clinic, the upside is meeting hot nurse, Eli James. When the two run into each other again, they pursue their attraction with a hot night together. And while neither man is typically one for a relationship, it turns out that Eli and Rider are really enjoying being together, in and out of the bedroom.
The men connect on a level unlike either have experienced before, so much so that Rider takes a chance by sharing his deepest fantasy with Eli: he wants to be shared sexually with other men. Rider worries that even mentioning it will turn Eli off, but it turns out Eli is also into the idea and the guys begin to explore the idea of emotional monogamy, while adding in occasional experiences where Eli shares Rider with other men.
The connection between Eli and Rider continues to grow, getting even stronger as a result of this shared, intense experience. With Eli’s support, Rider even finds he is able to navigate some complex family issues. But when an unexpected crisis hits, the men will need each other more than ever before if they hope to resolve it successfully.
So this is kind of a non-traditional romance story, but I think Denning totally makes this relationship work. Eli and Rider have an open relationship of sorts; they don’t date others, but from time to time they gather a group of men to have sex with Rider while Eli watches. It is a long-held fantasy of Rider’s and when he works up the nerve to tell Eli about it, it turns out that the idea makes Eli hot as well. So this book is probably not for everyone, as we have graphic scenes of group sex and sex outside of the primary relationship. But if you are all cool with that, I think there is a lot to offer in this story. Denning really showcases the intense love these men have for one another and I never doubted the depth of their feelings and their strong romantic connection. They are sexy and sweet and romantic and I loved the way these guys support each other and take care of one another.
I did find that this story was a little short on plot for me, however. Much of the book is watching these guys have sex, both as a couple and in their group events. Now, I love a good sex scene (or more than one), but I did feel that there wasn’t enough happening here outside of the sex to fully carry the book for a lot of the story. It is mostly Eli and Rider hanging out, going out on dates, and having lots (and LOTS) of sex. We get a family conflict towards the later part of the book that resolves nicely and gives Rider a chance to make peace with some issues he has been dealing with, but it isn’t quite enough to really carry the story plotwise. And then a big conflict comes at the end that is definitely serious, but resolves quite quickly. So I think I needed a little more of a story here to balance out the sexy aspects of things.
The ending conflict also really didn’t work for me in a variety of ways that are hard to explain without spoilers (though I do have a lot of this behind spoiler tags). First, I do think the crisis flowed naturally from the story, so that part works well. And I really appreciated that Rider stands up for himself and refuses to be judged or shamed. But other aspects didn’t work for me. I found it hard to imagine how quickly the fallout hits. I also found it almost impossible to believe who comes to Rider’s aid (or frankly who gets involved in this situation the first place). [spoiler] However far sports have come, the idea that there are enough gay/bi/bi-curious men on the football team that they could host their own guy on guy gang bang seemed hard to believe. On top of that, the idea that they would threaten to refuse to play because they were so caught up in the justice of defending this man they barely knew seemed incomprehensible to me. Or that none of the football players were worried at all about being seen on the video. Or seemingly upset that it had been made public for any reason other than their concern for Rider. Not to mention the complete lack of ethics of how Eli goes about getting these men involved (we are really ok with a nurse propositioning his patients to join in a gang bang?)[/spoiler] Aside from that issue, I found the actions of the school to be hard to believe as well. [spoiler] They have video of their football team in a gay gang bang. They are going to want to cover this up so fast heads would spin. Not to mention that within hours somehow they have already not only heard about the video, but taken sanctions against Rider? [/spoiler] And finally, I feel like the media would have been ALL over this given the situation and [spoiler] if this video of the football team went viral, certainly SOMEONE in the media would have seen it. [/spoiler]The fact that this is never an issue seemed unrealistic to me. Ok, so sorry this is all redacted but I just felt like conflict wasn’t believable in so many ways and it had me frustrated and disbelieving as I was reading, which really put a damper on the climax of the story for me. If you are not someone who gets too fussed about this being fully logical or realistic in how they play out, you will probably love the drama of the ending and not care a whit about the things that bugged me, however.
Despite this, I think what holds this story together is the relationship between Eli and Rider and I really enjoyed them as a couple. They are sweet and sexy and so clearly in love, I couldn’t help but root for them. So overall I liked this one and if you are looking for a story with a relationship that is a bit different from your usual romance novel fare, definitely check this one out.