Rating: 4.5 stars
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Nav is a slut. He’s gone to a wedding with a boyfriend only to end up sucking off another groomsman. His last boyfriend dropped him because he fucked the guy’s dad in the kitchen while he was supposedly using the bathroom. All in all, he has lots of exes, and none of them were friendly breakups. Mostly because Nav doesn’t do friends. He’s in it for the sex. He doesn’t want to share a bed or snuggle, doesn’t want breakfast in the morning. If he has someone over for the night, he’d like them gone before he wakes up; ideally, he’d like them gone before he goes to sleep. There’s a reason his bed has only one pillow.
Trick is in a committed BDSM relationship with his fiance, Theo, but their sex life has gotten a bit stale. Theo enjoys bondage and praise, Trick enjoys a little more pain, and so he and Theo plan a scene. Theo will go out into the ally and Trick will follow him. Together, they’ll play out a consensual non-consenting scene where Trick will pretend to overpower and fuck Theo. But the man Trick ends up enthusiastically fucking isn’t Theo. It’s Nav. And it’s all a mess.
Kinked Up is the first book in the It’s a Kink Thing series, and it’s on the heavier side of BDSM. Nav and Trick are both into pain play — whips, crops, and belts used liberally — as well as humiliation and degradation, with Nav being called slut more than he’s called by his name and, of course, consensual non-consent. If this isn’t something you feel comfortable reading, you’re going to want to avoid this book, but I would like to say that the relationship between Nav and Trick is a loving and consenting one between two adults, with safe words and aftercare. (Trick, during scenes, asks multiples times what Nav’s color is — red, yellow, green).
Nav has had a lot of sex. A lot. But he’s never been as turned on as he was by the near rape in the alley. He knew that he had only to safe word and the man would stop. Trick explained the rules several times, checked with him several times, and made Nav feel like he was flying. Being called slut, being manhandled, having every choice ostensibly taken from him was liberating. He didn’t have to focus on being good, or eager, or pleasing anyone … he only had to feel. And he wants it again. But Trick is engaged, and even Nav has lines he won’t cross.
Trick is devastated at what he did, both to Theo — his lover, his fiance — and the stranger who just so happens to be the man who lives across the hall. After the scene, he went running after Theo, who’d come into the alley, only belatedly realizing he’d left Nav alone to deal with the aftermath. With Theo’s agreement, Trick goes to Nav’s apartment for aftercare and to apologize. And, if need be, to accept the consequences if Nav wants to press charges. But Nav enjoyed the night, and enjoys the aftercare, so much so he wants to keep it going, all of which leads Trick and Nav into a sort of friendship. A dangerous friendship.
Theo, the third wheel in this romance, knows he’s not a match for Trick. They love each other, they’ve been together for years, but Trick has needs Theo can’t match. Theo isn’t in to pain and doesn’t want to be humiliated, much as Trick doesn’t like the rope work Theo enjoys. But it isn’t until the disastrous night that he has a chance to look at how badly their kinks fit together. He wants more than Trick is able to give him, and while Trick loves him, he doesn’t look at Theo the way he looks at Nav.
There is no cheating in this book, save the inadvertent scene at the beginning. Early on, Theo leaves Trick, not with animosity, but with resignation. Theo hadn’t been intending to be part of the scene in the alley; without talking about it, without communicating his discomfort, he intended to let Trick sit in the alley until he realized Theo wasn’t coming out in the hopes that Trick would give up on the idea. Theo isn’t a villain, no more than Trick or Nav, but the way in which he went about the relationship and the way he left speak volumes to how disconnected he was from his fiance.
This book has something I don’t often see in BDSM books and that’s a Dom drop. Trick, emotionally worked up, angry and jealous, decides to punish Nav without a discussion on limits, without checking Nav’s colors. And he might have gone further, gone harder if Nav hadn’t safe worded. Trick instantly stops and pulls away, and on seeing what he’s done, he calls for another Dom he trusts for assistance. Trick is, in that moment, helpless against his own emotions, his own failure, and the consequences of his actions. The author goes to efforts to show the aftermath of heavy scenes. Nav is in discomfort while bruises and welts heal, he and Trick have to navigate their emotions afterwards, and I appreciated the scenes of communication and aftercare.
The writing in this book was strong, the pace was good, and the characters made for pleasant company. If you enjoy heavier BDSM with pain play, I do recommend this book; I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future.