Kaden Edmond Donegal, or “Ked” as he likes to be called, is a hyperactive man in his mid-20s moving to the tiny mountain town of Bear Lake, Colorado, to take a forest service position managing the federal land around the territory. He’s a little on the short side, and a little on the thin side, and he’s got a chip on his shoulder about that. Ked feels his family and friends have always looked down on him for not being more capable, or more manly, and he’s got a penchant for over-doing things and rushing in without thinking, with a motor mouth that could stop a train.
Arriving in Bear Lake, Ked immediately begins solving the problems of the sparse populace. Dan, the man he is replacing on the duty roster, has lived there his whole adult life and he is retiring. His wife, Hannah, had talked both of them into moving to Florida, but Ked sees that neither of them really wanted this and comes to the rescue. And, when there are troubles with poachers on federal lands, Ked charges in and gets…clobbered. He’s rescued by a local artist and recluse, and Bam! Ked’s in love, even if kinky Sean doesn’t think they will make a good match.
Snooping/stalking for hints about the man of his dreams leads naïve Ked into kink territory, and suddenly Ked is a sub. Or, willing to try being a sub, if Sean will take the reins as his Dom. In the meantime, Ked is the only eyewitness to the poachers’ identities and one of them has several outstanding warrants. Ked’s suddenly the target of some dangerous experiences, and hiding his vulnerability from Sean, whom he’s convinced to begin a partnership. And, Sean’s incensed when he learns that impetuous and unruly Ked is unwilling to trust him completely.
I will be honest, I didn’t much care for Ked. He’s foolish and foolhardy. He’s irritatingly verbose, and frustratingly nonsensical. His demeanor is light-hearted, but it felt like he crossed people’s boundaries without regard for how it might affect them. That brand of nonchalance came off as callous, when I’m sure the author’s intention was for Ked to seem overly caring and unexpectedly in touch with this community. It felt like too much, though. Ked shows up to a Friday night drinking session in the park and suddenly it’s the best party in town because he thought to play music? He inserts himself into everyone’s lives and it’s okay because he’s trying to help them figure out some obvious truth? I never really connected with Ked’s internal or external verbal diarrhea dialogue, and therefore it didn’t feel genuine when every person in town was suddenly smitten with him. Sean seemed like an okay partner, but the whole Woods Dom thing with how he fetishized Ked as a wood nymph and pushed for outdoor sexytimes, as a result, felt weird.
There is a bit of danger and intrigue regarding the poachers and how their activities may be covering up criminal activity that’s even more sinister. I liked how Sean and Ked interacted, mostly because Sean’s Dom control often made Ked stop talking and ruining everything. The main conflict ends and then there are more things that Ked gets to fix, like helping Sean get over trauma from his army medic days. Ked being the savior of so many in Bear Lake really just grated on me, because he himself was so irritating. One good thing was that Ked seemed too mature and not run off into danger impetuously, or chatter on endlessly quite so much in the final third of the book.
This is the beginning of a series and I can say that I would not read on if Ked is the main character of the next book.