Lucas West’s car breaks down in a storm on his way home from traveling for work. All he wants is to get home to his bed, but he is stuck in town for the night, so he heads to grab some dinner and there he meets Colt Carter. Colt is passing through the other direction on the way to his air force base where he is soon to be deployed. The men have an instant attraction to one another, and dinner leads to an incredibly hot night of sex. Colt and Lucas stretch out their time together as much as they can, but they really only have a day before they have to go their separate ways.
Neither man is ready to be done with things, however. They can’t stop thinking about each other, and even when Colt is deployed, the men keep in touch, growing closer as the months pass. The connection between the guys would be perfect, but both are Daddy Doms and looking for a Little, and Colt is a sadist as well. Their kinks are definitely not compatible, but everything else about them just works. Now that Colt is heading home from deployment, he and Lucas need to figure out if they can make it work as a couple, and turn their night together into a lifetime.
Top Priority is a sweet and sexy novella about two men who fall hard and fast for one another. Things happen quickly here; Colt and Lucas actually only spend a day together and the rest of their relationship development happens while they are apart during Colt’s deployment. That 24-hour period does take about half the book, so we do get time with them as a couple, but again, lots of the story happens while the men are apart, and that one night is their only in-person contact before they find themselves in love with each other. Dee actually does manage to pull the romance off pretty well, despite this super short timeline. The men are able to chat and interact long distance, so I could mostly believe in the growth of their relationship, even though we don’t actually get to see most of it. We spend a lot of time with Lucas just hearing about their contact. So I do feel like I’d have liked more time seeing things grow between them. That said, the men are both engaging, they are sexy together, and I could feel the bond and connection between them.
Where I struggled more with this story is the fact that while it is book one in The Game series, it really feels more like a prequel to the second book, Their Boy, which led to some issues for me. One of the main conflicts presented here is that both men are Daddy Doms and are looking for a relationship with that dynamic, so their kinks are not compatible. Lucas is clear he only dates within the scene and neither man is interested in a submissive role. This means in order to be together, there has to be some compromise or looking for alternate outlets for their interests. However, while this issue is presented as crucial for both of them, it gets barely any attention in the actual story. The guys basically decide to just not deal with it until later on, and it never get resolved in the story itself. It seems an ill-advised way to start a long-term, serious relationship, given they have no idea at this point how or if they will work through this crucial conflict.
The reason I say that this book feels like a prequel is that while the guys get a clear HEA in the first epilogue, we actually get a second epilogue set eight years in the future that finally shows the men starting to sort out this issue of both being Daddy Doms. It seemed a strange way to end the book, with the resolution really changing their relationship dynamic at the very end of the story. It made more sense when I realized that book 2 in the series, Their Boy, actually features Lucas and Colt again. So the second epilogue here actually kicks off the plot of book two. I think story-wise, things feel complete here until the very end when suddenly it opens up a whole new story arc for them. It made this book feel almost like the “origin story” written after the main book to tell you how the original couple got together. Not necessarily a bad thing, just sort of odd, but it does leave things quite open ended.
The side effect of this set up is that I found myself confused about the time period in which this book was set. I just assumed that the book was set in present day, as there is nothing at the start or in the blurb to indicate otherwise. At one point, I found myself confused because Lucas says something about Grindr starting a year before, but for some reason I read that as an inaccuracy, rather than dating the book. Later, they mention President Obama, but I wasn’t clear in context if he was supposed to still be president or they were referring to something in the past. Those were the only two indicators I found in the book that it wasn’t present day. Honestly, it wasn’t until the very end of the book when I realized that the story continues through the epilogue and into the next book eight years later that I realized this book must then actually take place eight years ago. I am not clear why Dee chose not to just date stamp the book in some way, as it led to a lot of unnecessary confusion.
So I did have some issues with the structure of the story, but I still found myself really liking it. I enjoyed both Colt and Lucas and found them to be a fun couple together. I thought the elements of the story focused on Lucas dealing with Colt’s deployment were interesting and well handled. And the story has a nice sexiness and intensity. I just think that the way it is structured didn’t totally work for me and the ending left me feeling like things weren’t fully resolved.