pretty 'n peak coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Mateo can barely believe he won a vacation from Cuffd to one of their destination weekends, particularly one with a Daddy/boy focus. Mateo is new to kink and is not out to anyone at home, so the whole situation is overwhelming to him. But he can’t resist the chance to live out some of his fantasies and maybe find a Daddy Dom for the weekend.

Austin used to love being a Dom, but over the last few years he has found his interest waning, particularly after the end of a bad relationship. It all seems like so much work, and with his job draining him, Austin just can’t garner the enthusiasm any more. He has practically dropped out of his club and barely sees his friends. But he does agree to come to their inn for the kink weekend and relax a little, even if he has no intention of actually doing a scene with anyone.

When Austin meets Mateo, he can’t help but be charmed by the sweet, shy man. Mateo is so clearly overwhelmed by the boisterous group who all seem to know what they want that Austin can’t help but nurture him along. Mateo is also insecure in his body, as he is a bigger guy, but also a submissive, and Austin is quick to reassure Mateo that he finds him very attractive just as he is. Austin intends to just mentor Mateo, but the chemistry between the men is intense and they end up spending the weekend together as Austin helps Mateo live out many of his kinky fantasies.

To their surprise, neither man is ready for things to end when the weekend is over. They arrange for weekends together, giving them a chance to explore more sexually and with kink. Austin also gives Mateo the safe space and encouragement to experiment with gender expression, something that he wants but has been too afraid to try, particularly among his family who don’t even know he is gay. The men are clicking on every level. But even more, they are supporting each other and helping one another work through issues that have been holding them back. But not only do Mateo and Austin live in different cities, Mateo isn’t out to his family. Now, the two men must figure out if there is a way to turn their weekend relationship into something full time.

Pretty ‘n Peak is part of the second season of the Destination Daddies multi-author collection. The books all feature characters participating in Daddy/boy weekends sponsored by the Cuffd kink app. I have jumped in and out of the series in both seasons and had no problem following along. However, I will note that Jamie, Sebastian, and Neil from Morrison’s first Destination Daddies book, All Tied Up, appear here as fairly prominent side characters, and Levi and Saul from Dear Daddy, Please Want Me also have a cameo here. I haven’t read either book and was just fine here, though this definitely made me interested in reading more about Jamie, Sebastian, and Neil.

This is a really lovely, sexy story about two men who are both at transition points in their lives and struggling with exactly how to move forward. The first part of the book focuses on their weekend away together, and if you like shy, blushing boys you are going to just adore sweet Mateo. He is determined to take a chance to explore this world that he has been watching from a distance, but he is also scared and somewhat overwhelmed and Austin finds a nurturing side he didn’t quite realize he had to help Mateo along. Austin has always been a Dom and a sadist and hasn’t ever really thought of himself as a Daddy, yet he is so drawn to taking care of Mateo and they are perfect fit. Austin has this gentleness about him that eases Mateo’s anxiety and gives him the strength and confidence to explore.

The weekend ends up being a revelation for both men. For Austin, he not only sees a different side of himself, but also finds a spark of joy that has long been missing for him in being a Dom. Austin works crazy hours in a job he hates, and between that and his breakup, he has been dealing with depression (though he hasn’t realized that is what is going on). For Mateo, he is taking those first steps into being out as gay (at least in the safe confines of the event), experimenting with kink, and exploring his gender expression. While he generally identifies as male, Mateo is very drawn to expressing himself in traditionally feminine ways with makeup and dress. Austin gives him the support and encouragement (and Jamie is there to be a mentor and cheerleader) to help him feel safe to explore. The story then moves on to give the guys a chance to further develop their relationship at home, which I appreciated, as it really builds the dynamic between them rather than having it all settle in a weekend.

Morrison really explores so many issues nicely here and integrates them well into the story. Austin is mostly blind after a tumor as a teen. Morrison notes in the front matter that their father was blind and they wanted to portray someone who, like him, “was comfortable and confident with both his vision impairment and the adaptations that were part of his everyday routine” and I think the author very much succeeds with that here. Austin is also struggling with undiagnosed depression and once he realizes that may be behind his “gray” periods, we see him going to therapy to work through things. I always appreciate when authors avoid the sort of “cured by love” solution, so while Mateo is a great source of support, I was glad to see Austin also visiting a professional for help.

At the same time, Mateo is also learning more about himself, with Austin’s support. Not only is he having his first forays into kink, as well as being in public with a man, but he is also exploring his gender expression. Mateo is a big guy, on the heavy side, and his partners tend to want him to top and be more dominant. But Mateo is a pure submissive and loves feeling small and delicate and protected. He wants to experiment with clothing and makeup and pretty things that will make him feel sexy, but he has so much insecurity due to his body type. It is really lovely here to see Mateo blossom when he takes those steps to claiming what he wants. Mateo also has a loving family, but they are religious Catholics and he worries what will happen if he comes out to them. So there is also some exploration of his religion and family here as well. Like I said, lots of issues to develop here and what I loved is seeing how the men support each other as they work through it all.

I have found Morrison to be a really solid author and really enjoyed their books I have read. If you enjoy Daddy/boy stories, this one is high heat, but also a well developed story that explores lots of interesting themes. I really enjoyed this one and definitely recommend it.

P.S. Bonus points for a cover that showcase Mateo as a larger man who offers something other than the conventional romance hero body type.

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