Rating: 4.5 stars
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Simon and Ben are deeply in love and theirs is a relationship that values the differences in each other. They are also deeply into a Dom/sub lifestyle which, while it’s not a 24/7 type, still resonates in almost every other aspect of their marriage—particularly in the bedroom. Simon and Ben must fly to London in order to help Simon’s older brother, Stephen, who is being blackmailed with compromising photos. The reason this is so threatening a situation is because Simon and Stephen are aristocratic nobility. While Simon is essentially dead to their father, Stephen is running the important family foundation that aids children and families, which was set up in order to honor their late mother. Since Ben is a former secret agent turned university professor, it makes sense Stephen would ask him for help.
But being back in London is very unsettling for poor Simon. It reminds him of his youth and the year his father caught him with the housekeeper’s son and summarily fired the woman and threw Simon out of the house. Since he was at boarding school at the time, Simon was never to come home again. This edict prompted Stephen to move out on his own and offer a place for Simon to come to when he had holidays or summer breaks from school. The bad taste of their father’s disgust and decision to never see Simon again because he was gay cut Simon very deeply and being back in London brings all those memories to the forefront. It means that Ben not only needs to find a way to stop the blackmailer from exposing Stephen, but also make sure he takes care of his husband—his sub–who needs him more than ever to ground him and remind him he is loved and safe.
The novella, Leather and Tea in London by K.L. Noone, is actually a story about an already existing couple from one of the the author’s earlier books. Not knowing that and never having read about Ben and Simon before, I can tell you that this sweet novella is easily read as a standalone, but I think would be even more satisfying if you know more of the background about this couple –something I intend to do soon. These guys are quite lovely together and well matched. This story does cover how Stephen is being blackmailed and by whom, and resolves that issue quite nicely, but the bulk of the book really deals with helping Simon worth through the hurtful memories attached to being back in his home country.
The couple currently reside in the States where Ben teaches and Simon writes successful historical romances. But one errant remark by Stephen about a past episode of Simon’s when he was fifteen brings forth a lot of baggage Simon thought he had dealt with. Thankfully, the Dom in Ben recognizes that his sub needs him and hence there are a few very erotic and well done BDSM scenes in the story that highlight just how much these two men are in love.
For a relatively short novella, Leather and Tea in London packs a huge emotional punch and gives just enough background information on Ben’s former career, how the two met and fell in love, and their current relationship status. It really was a complete little tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t help but imagine those familiar with this couple will delight in seeing a glimpse of them and read this wonderful story.