Botany student, Kyle, is in a tight financial spot: his mother needs back surgery that insurance won’t cover and now their house is going into foreclosure. He elects to sacrifice his last year of college in order to give his parents the tuition money. But it’s not enough, so Kyle’s not-so-good friend, Jeff, persuades him to take a job at a world-class resort, Stoneford Hills, where they can get rich quick by breaking into guest room safes. Meanwhile, Maddox, who hails from a wealthy family of venture capitalists, travels solo to the same resort, owned by his best friend, for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Once at the resort, Kyle and Maddox meet and the attraction is immediate. But before they can act on that attraction, Jeff insists Kyle start stealing. Kyle’s first job goes awry when he’s caught red-handed by the guest: Maddox. And worse, the safe was filled with the possessions of Maddox’s ex-wench/girlfriend who showed up unannounced and uninvited, and is going to now make Kyle’s life miserable.
The billionaire and the botanist … and a delicious slow burn. These boys have chemistry. The passion is so welcome after reading a number of books recently that contained lackluster sex.
When he returned my kiss with fevered passion and began tearing my clothes off, I felt unleashed. My room was filled with pants, moans, fabrics ripping. A symphony I let wrap itself around me. I never wanted someone as much as I wanted this man beneath me.
Sticky Fingers is an enjoyable book with a few of my favorite tropes, including the slow burn, mentioned above. I’m also fond of an age gap, a wealthy older MC, and an opposites attract theme. In this case, Maddox is a forty-year-old billionaire who rescues Kyle, a twenty-one-year-old college student, from a very sticky situation. Maddox expresses great empathy for Kyle and immediately recognizes the attempted theft as being out of character. He correctly surmises that Kyle is under the influence of Jeff The Rotten and wants to save Kyle from the life-ruining repercussions the felony charges would bring upon him.
I will deal with Kyle and the punishment for his actions.
This is where I stopped to see if I somehow missed in the blurb that this is a BDSM book. Nope. Maybe Maddox means Kyle needs to learn his lesson. No, that isn’t any better. What he really has in mind is Kyle coming home with him to work all summer on Maddox’s neglected gardens. Doesn’t sound too bad as it will finally give the men the opportunity to hook up. This sets the stage for the remaining two-thirds of the story where the men fight their attraction, give in to their attraction, and deal with Maddox’s biggest mistake in life, Nadia.
Another factor I love that Davidson King gives both Kyle and Maddox loving, supportive families – one struggling terribly from financial and medical crises, the other a large, incredibly wealthy, close-knit clan – when so many books in this genre portray (rightly so) unsupportive or hostile family dynamics when it comes to LGBTQ+ children and siblings.
The one area lacking in Sticky Fingers is world building. There is a plethora of missed opportunities for beautiful imagery, from the resort to Maddox’s private gardens. A world-class resort like Stoneford Hills must be spectacular, but we’re not told what the setting or scenery is like. What type of restaurants are there? What kind of foliage? Instead, King provides a cursory list of resort features. Since the story is told in alternating first person POV, we could have gotten Kyle’s first-hand account of the presumably elaborate gardens through the eyes of a life-long lover of flora. Likewise, once ensconced in Maddox’s home, the budding botanist could have described the lovely scents, textures, colors, and sounds in the garden, but sadly the brief descriptions provided are devoid of the rich imagery this setting cries out for.
The one other detail that bothers me is King’s method for using codes and locking the room safes. It feels completely inaccurate. I can’t image a guest would ever be required to give hotel personnel a written copy of their code; it’s not how in-room safes operate. Perhaps it’s a trivial complaint, but it bothered me and it would have been so easy to get it right.
Otherwise, I enjoyed Sticky Fingers. King developed a story with an interesting plot and pacing that kept my attention. The aforementioned family members are solid secondary characters, and the two villains impart tension to the conflict. Kyle and Maddox get their happy ending, but they have to navigate through a few rough patches to get there. And by rough patches, I mean Nadia. This is a story most readers should enjoy.