Nicky Fender stopped sex work two years ago, but when his former boss reaches out with a new opportunity, it seems too good to pass up. The client is getting married to a woman, but before that happens, he wants to explore sex with a man. For two months, he will pay Nicky a great deal of money, plus provide an apartment, for Nicky to be available to him multiple nights a week. The money will help Nicky buy into his brother’s music school and become a real partner in the business.
Nicky is used to unusual requests from clients, but in this case, Gideon wants him blindfolded, with no talking or moving, and no personal interaction aside from the sex. It isn’t easy, as Nicky finds sex with Gideon hot and keeping still and quiet is difficult. But Nicky also misses having real interaction with Gideon, and being kept at a distance by his clients is one of the reasons he got out of sex work in the first place. It is clear that Gideon is frustrated too, but seems hesitant to let himself have more. Fortunately, before too long Gideon begins to relax his rules and the men are able to get to know one another.
It turns out that Gideon is an extremely wealthy businessman and his engagement is not a love match, but more of a business arrangement. His fiancé can give Gideon the family he wants; he can give her the name and status of his position. Gideon is also autistic and his early rules are an attempt not only to keep some emotional distance from Nicky, but also a sense of control over the encounter. Nicky works hard to ensure that Gideon is comfortable, but also helps him expand his boundaries a little. Soon, the men are not just interacting more personally, they are also taking walks around the city, Gideon is spending time watching Nicky’s musical performances, and the men are all but dating. They are also falling hard for one another, so much so that Nicky knows that he is in love with Gideon. But the two-month clock on their relationship is quickly winding down. Now Nicky has to figure out if he can make Gideon believe there is a future for the two of them, or whether when their time is up, it will all be over.
We Have Till Dawn is one of those books that really gives an in-depth exploration of a relationship developing and I so enjoyed following along with Nicky and Gideon’s journey. When the men have their first encounter, it literally just bodies coming together and nothing more; Nicky isn’t allowed to move, to talk, to see. He knows nothing about Gideon, not even his name, and every aspect of the encounter is precisely managed. While Nicky finds the sex hot, it isn’t long before his frustration builds. He wants to touch and to interact, to help guide Gideon through these new sexual experiences, to be a part of them himself and not just a body to use. And Gideon is frustrated too; things aren’t going as he wants, but he isn’t sure how to move forward. Gideon has put these rules in place to give him some sense of control and comfort, but they are keeping him from the experience he wants. Slowly, these men open up to each other, beginning to talk, to get to know one another, and to essentially be boyfriends in all but name. I loved watching them find those connections, to recognize that they fit and how happy they make each other. I also love the tender way they care for each other and support one another.
Gideon has always tried to manage the anxiety and stress that can come from his autism by keeping himself in a rigid box. And some of that is necessary, as strategies like having a plan and avoiding crowds help keep him feeling more balanced. But they have also kept him from exploring his boundaries even a little. Nicky is a great balance for Gideon in the sense that he is able to live more carefree and open, but he is also very aware of Gideon’s needs and does his best to respect them. Nicky helps Gideon to push just a little, while at the same time being there to support Gideon when he is having a hard time. I will say here that I don’t have enough personal experiences or knowledge of autism to comment on the accuracy of how Gideon is portrayed, or whether the strategies he uses are realistic, or if the way Nicky encourages him is the right thing. But as a reader, I really enjoyed the way these men interact and seeing Gideon find a way to meet his own needs while also finding happiness with Nicky.
This story is also super sexy and there are some kinky moments as well, as Gideon has a bit of a voyeuristic kink (he explains it better in the book). He is a super sexual guy and he and Nicky have an intense sexual relationship. (I’ll note that there is some kinky public role play here involving incest, so be aware if that may be a trigger for you.)
The conflict here really revolves around the fact that their relationship has a time limit imposed by their contract and Gideon’s upcoming marriage. There is a point where these men have fallen in love and admitted as much to each other. Nicky would love to continue their relationship, but Gideon is getting married so he can having a family and kids. I found this felt like too artificial a hurdle for me, however, or at least one that isn’t explained well enough. Plenty of gay men have children and, with Gideon’s vast wealth, adoption and surrogacy should be options well within reach. Having kids does not equal having a heterosexual relationship. The book does give a nod to this briefly, but it is never really addressed. The story is told from Nicky’s POV only, so this makes Gideon’s reasoning even more unclear. I just felt like for a book where this issue is the sole conflict, I needed to better understand the problem, since the solution seemed relatively straightforward. My only other real note here is that the story sort of stretches a bit at the end, with multiple shorter epilogues, and I felt like this could have been tightened up somewhat.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I found it sweet and sexy, with really nice relationship development. We also meet Nicky’s brother here and he is an intriguing guy, so I was excited to see the note at the end that he is getting a story as well. I really enjoyed these characters and I look forward to revisiting this world.