After six years together, Adrian knows things aren’t great with his boyfriend, Nathan, but when Nathan fractures his arm and chokes him, Adrian realizes he has to get out of that relationship. Unfortunately, with Nathan controlling their finances, Adrian has no money of his own and no place to go. However, his friends Lars and Jonah are happy to take Adrian in while he gets back on his feet.
Vale first met Adrian when Adrian was 18 and homeless. He took Adrian in, helped him go to college, and taught him all about puppy play, something Adrian was craving but didn’t know how to begin exploring. The men have always been attracted to each other, but the age gap and Adrian’s vulnerability when they first met meant Vale kept things strictly friends, and since then Adrian has been with Nathan. But when Vale finds out that Adrian has been hurt, his protective instincts come out and all he wants to do is take care of him. Adrian is eager to be with Vale as well and moves in with him for the remainder of his recovery. At first, Vale still tries to keep his distance from Adrian romantically and sexually. Adrian is just getting out of a relationship, and an abusive one at that. But the fire that burned between the men has never fully gone out and with Adrian now staying with Vale, it isn’t long before the men give in to their attraction.
As he spends more time with Vale, Adrian realizes what a true Dom and puppy owner should really be like. Vale is kind and caring and always gentle and loving with Adrian. Being together helps Adrian feel stronger and more confident, as well as find joy in puppy play again. He dotes on Adrian, and even encourages his love of high heeled shoes (something Nathan refused to allow him). After years of struggling, Adrian realizes that the first man he really wanted is meant to be the one with whom he spends a lifetime.
Heel is the second book in K.M. Neuhold’s Working Out the Kinks series, following the delightful first story, Stay. While Lars and Jonah are side characters here, and we met both Adrian and Vale in book one, I think you can easily jump into this story as a standalone. However, both books are filled with the same type of sweet story, lovely romance, and charming puppy play, so if you enjoy one, I think you will like the other as well.
As I said, these books are incredibly sweet. That seems strange to say about a book that starts with domestic violence, and obviously the situation with Nathan is serious (and it is presented as so). The first violent encounter between Adrian and Nathan happens off page, but we do see the second instance of abuse, as well as Nathan being threatening toward Adrian at other times. So be aware if this is a trigger for you. However, the story as a whole has a much lighter tone and not much conflict overall. Once Adrian has moved away from Nathan, we get to bask in watching him pampered and adored by Vale. It is clear that Vale dotes on Adrian and just loves everything about him. Vale is supportive and generous and incredibly caring. Not to mention gorgeous, muscular, and super sexy. Basically, the Prince Charming that Adrian calls him. For his part, Adrian is adorable and sweet and just revels in the love and affection that Vale shows him. Once they are together, the story is mostly about the men building their relationship and Adrian regaining his confidence after Nathan.
I don’t mean to make things sound too simplistic here, as Neuhold gives us nicely developed characters in Vale and Adrian. There is also exploration of puppy play and what it means to both men, as well as some Dom/sub dynamics and Daddy kink. It is rewarding to see these men who have been lonely and unhappy find their way back to one another and end up in a relationship that is everything both men ever wanted. So I found this one sweet and sexy and a great follow up to Stay. If you enjoy a charming romance and some light puppy play elements, definitely check this one out.