Nick Kurosawa’s life is kind of a mess. After a medical discharge from the military, and the death of his family, he has trouble not letting people push his buttons into violence. His friend, Alex, sees that Nick’s current job as a bouncer isn’t helping, and sends him to a friend for a job. Nick doesn’t know what to expect, but with nothing to lose, he heads to Jacob Umber’s antiques shop.
Jacob is posh and sophisticated and speaks with a clipped, polite air. He needs an assistant, as he has fibromyalgia, and wants someone who is adaptable and who can take instruction. Since Nick craves a purpose and needs someone to take the lead, it works out well. The two men quickly fall into a routine, and Nick finds himself more settled and actually happy.
But as the weeks move along, Nick starts craving more from his boss. A chance meeting outside of work shows that Jacob could give Nick exactly what he needs. Navigating past the boss/employee relationship is difficult at first, but both men know what they want. Once it’s clear, they move into an intimate relationship outside of work hours. However, Jacob’s shady past comes back to haunt them and it threatens what they’ve built. Nick knows what he wants, and that’s Jacob’s domination and love. But if they stay together, their life won’t be normal, and Jacob wants more than that for Nick. It’ll take some work for them to find a way to love and live.
The blurb for this one grabbed my attention, and I was quick to pick it up. John Tristan is a new-to-me author, so I knew it would fit perfectly for this Reading Challenge week. And I have to say that while the writing was a little lyrical at times, the narrative was compelling and engaging, the characters well developed, and I’d definitely see what this author has to offer in the future.
This book is told solely through Nick’s third person POV, and since it really is his journey, that made sense. He’s had a tough time of it. Depression has been part of his life since he was young, and he lost his family in a car accident. He was fortunate to get a medical discharge from the military before he went completely off the rails, and therapy and medication helped him get to a good place. But he’s at a loss in his life, and working for Jacob gives him the purpose he needs. Being in Nick’s head throughout the story really helped show where he was coming from and his emotions and thoughts really drove the story.
Though we don’t get Jacob’s perspective, the author does a decent job of letting us know him through his words and actions. I was intrigued by his control, his clipped and polite way of speaking, and the utter perfection he portrays. He’s also very practical and pragmatic, and discloses his trans status because it’s something Nick needs to know. He knows what he wants and needs, and assures that Nick can provide it before hiring him. It was easy to see what about him drew Nick in, and how Nick’s crush developed naturally from their interactions. When they take things to an intimate level, it feels like the natural next step in their relationship. The chemistry between them sparks from almost the beginning, and when they scene together, it’s clear it’s exactly what they both need.
I would have liked to see a few things better developed throughout the book. At times, I felt the time jumps were leaving too much out and I would have liked to see a bit more of their interactions on page instead of just being told in a sentence or two how things were going. Also, I felt like the ending was a little rushed. There was a moment where I wondered if perhaps it’s wasn’t going to have an HEA, though rest assured, it did. But I would have liked more explanation, considering what a big thing Jacob’s past was.
All in all, I definitely liked this story. The author has a good voice, and it showed throughout the book. While a few moments could have been better developed and the pacing tweaked somewhat, it was an engaging story that kept my interest all the way through. Despite the subject matter, things weren’t too heavy, but were given appropriate weight. If this one piques your interest, don’t hesitate to pick it up.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of FIVE $20 JMS Books bookstore gift cards (you can see the full event prize list here)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on New-to-Me Author Week here.