Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
West is a recovering alcoholic. He hit rock bottom hard, but has managed to turn his life around, in part because he moved back to his hometown and has his Nana’s unwavering support. But it’s been hard work, and West is focused completely on his day to day. He’s left his old life behind, and he is focusing solely on the here and now. West’s routine is what helps him make it through the day.
Rhys’ passion is photography and he is incredibly talented. But he gets to do the job in part because his studio is in a building his father owns. When his father threatens to sell the studio, Rhys’ makes him a deal: if his upcoming exhibition is successful, his father won’t sell. His father agrees, but that puts even more pressure on Rhys to get things right and finally make a name for himself. He’s desperate to find the thing that will make his exhibition, which is about kink and how it’s so much more than movies, TV, and books portray, successful. And then he meets West.
In an effort to get out more, West finally sets foot in Bold Brew, an inclusive and kink friendly coffee shop. Rhys and West hit it off right away, but their time together is cut short. When they meet again, West agrees to model for Rhys, because he’s seen Rhys’ work on Instagram. It gives West the courage to bring forth a side of him he buried long ago, and he puts on a Little outfit for the photo shoot. It hits every one of Rhys’ buttons, as he’s a Daddy Dom.
The connection between West and Rhys grows stronger with every conversation and meeting, and love can’t be far behind. But when an emergency strikes West’s life, he pushes Rhys away instead of holding on. But both men are miserable without each other, but Rhys’ exhibition may help them understand just how deep their love has grown.
Okay, first things first. I need to address the blurb. To me, it does not accurately portray the story and, in fact, implies things about the story itself and the characters that the book does not deliver. From reading the blurb, I expected more in the way of Daddy/little and age play, as well as more of a Dom/sub dynamic. There is very little Dom/sub here, only slightly more caretaking, and virtually no age play. The MCs are also portrayed in a certain way in the blurb, and while we see some of that, it doesn’t play out as the blurb implies. So what I was expecting based on the blurb is not what I got from this story, which was a bit of a disappointment.
I will also say here that the author includes a trigger warning of discussion of alcoholism, but indicates there’s no on page relapse. And while that’s true, there is a scene that comes close, and readers should be aware. On the whole, however, I thought the alcoholism was handled with care and sensitivity.
I liked both the MCs, and I thought the author did a decent job of fleshing them out. Rhys, for all he saw the little things in the world, and saw things in a different light—perhaps due to his job as a photographer—wasn’t quite as well developed as West was. I felt Rhys was at a distance, and while that made partial sense for his character, it also kept me from fully understanding him and ultimately being fully invested and fully believing in the romance and falling in love. West was more fully explored, and it was a lot easier understand his thoughts and motivation. It seemed like physical attraction and a lining up of kink is what drew these men together, which makes sense, and while I very much liked the MCs together and watching them fall in love, I struggled with feeling like it was mostly just the surface of things. For me, that wasn’t enough to base a lasting relationship on, and I never got to the point where I really believed these guys would last.
There was a lot of lost potential, especially given that Rhys was supposed to be a Daddy who loved to care for and guide his partners. Considering West has been existing solely because of his routine, I wanted to see Rhys step in and help him change and manage his routine in order to flourish instead of just survive. But it never happened. And while not all D/s relationships exist outside of the bedroom, a Daddy/Little relationship typically has more control. For me, not including this aspect missed the mark, and throwing in an occasional “Daddy” or “Good boy” while they were having sex just wasn’t enough for me to really believe in their relationship in that way.
As for the narrative, this story hits all the traditional romance beats, but I would have liked to see more creativity or innovation in that regard. These guys meet, start dating, have a black moment, and get back together. But for me it was very predictable and skirting the edge of cliché. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I was looking for something more, something unique, that really set this story apart and I just didn’t find it.
Overall, this story was just okay for me. There were some shining moments, but considering what the Bold Brew universe is based around, I was expecting more. Where Rhys was concerned, I wanted more depth. And I needed more from their D/s and Daddy/Little relationship. If you’re a fan of the author, or a completionist who wants to read every book in this multi-author series, then I’d say pick this book up. Otherwise, I’d give it a pass.