Mad Master is a big, burly, wealthy, gay romance author. He’s also an unapologetically sociopathic, kidnapping Dom who’s got literal bodies buried in his giant sprawling estate—from the criminals he’s removed from prison and sexually tortured before death, or trafficking them to worse masters. In the spirit of “Dexter,” Mad Master feels his torture of depraved criminals is a public service. He’s intrigued when a former “lover”—his first captive sub—returns needing a very particular favor. Baby, as Mad Master calls him, wants a man kidnapped and protected from Mad Master’s nemesis, an equally sociopathic, powerful man: the Senator.
Baby, who is both a Federal Agent and a Dom himself, bargains with Master to save his FBI partner—and in exchange, he’ll give himself over to Master’s whims. Mad Master, as an author, is consumed by the idea of love and romance. He’s never felt love, he’s fairly sure, but he MIGHT have felt some sort of love with Baby all those years ago. Plus, his target is a beautiful young man—once cleaned up and his biker beard shaved off anyway. Maybe Master could practice all the romance nonsense he writes about and see if he can get his new Pretty, or Baby, to swoon?
Pretty, dubbed so by Master for lack of any other name, has been abused and whored out his entire life, beginning with his stepfather and continuing to the biker gang members who “protect” him and make use of his body on the regular. Pretty doesn’t feel pretty, and he’s desperate to keep his gnarly beard so when he’s tossed back to the gang, he’ll have some “manly cred,” but it soon becomes apparent that Master will break his will and either keep, traffic, or kill him—so he may as well go along. When Pretty and Master finally bond, well, it’s kinda kismet, but it’s also disastrous. Because it is then that we learn why the Senator wants Pretty dead, and all the mercenaries in the southeast converge on Master’s estate to capture Pretty for the Senator’s big reward. And Master won’t let his Pretty go, after all.
This story features kidnapping, non-consent, and dubious consent. Those warnings are important, but they belie the dark humor, the odd couple connection, and the truly unbelievable romance arc. I will be honest and say that this story lacked a lot in the common-sense department. If you are looking for a tense suspense thriller, or even a dark BDSM romance, this book won’t likely hit the mark for you. It’s more a dark, BDSM-fantasy with twisted rom-com situations. Master’s depravity is almost goofy, especially in his infantile attempts to “romance” Pretty, who’s never had a romanced moment in his life. The story balances its darkness with the absurd—having a super “smart” house and estate that’s impregnable, except by random assassins and the Senator’s minions. The connection between Master and the Senator is so coincidental as to add to the tongue-in-cheek humor, to my mind. Even with dark themes like rape, murder, and corruption, there’s a deadpan humor underlying the situations.
I liked Pretty. He’s pragmatic. He knows his value and understands he’s never going to escape the cesspit of his life, which is why he’s so able to find comfort in Master’s dark desires and zaniness. Master, Baby, and the Senator are all caricatures of Big Bad Doms, with only a few shades of gray separating their dark desires and behaviors. I think if you want a story with tons of action, dark themes, and yet a silly core that leads to unexpected romance, this would be a book you might like. I found it morbidly entertaining.