Rory hasn’t spoken to his former best friend, Callan, in 17 years, so he is surprised to hear from Callan out of the blue, asking if he can stay with Rory for a week while in London. Rory has missed Callan and is happy to see him again, but things are also a little strained. The two were inseparable growing up until Callan confided in Rory about how he was being sexually abused. When Rory reported it and things came out in the open, Callan and his family moved away and Rory hasn’t heard from him since.
Rory is still recovering emotionally from his abuse, though he has come a long way. For a while, his coping mechanism was alcohol, but Callan is now sober and working as an electrician and his life feels like it is getting back on track. Then he gets a call from his ex-girlfriend telling him she is pregnant with his child and Callan is thrown once again. He can barely manage to get off time from work to come to London for the baby’s birth and he has no money for a place to stay, so he calls Rory. But Callan knows he dropped out of Rory’s life and has no idea how he will be received.
Things are a little awkward at first between Rory and Callan, and they have some talking to do, but the close bond they shared as kids come rushing back. Rory introduces Callan to his housemates and they are so welcoming, something Callan really needs as he deals with the arrival of a baby he hadn’t even known was on the way until a few weeks ago. Being in the house also introduces Callan to the world of kink, as all the housemates met through a kink app and are open about their interests. Callan finds himself surprised not only to learn that Rory is a Dom, but also to find himself curious about sensory play, something Rory enjoys. Even more surprising for Callan is he finds himself attracted to Rory after never having been interested in men. As the friendship between Rory and Callan begins to blossom into love, they must also adapt to Callan’s life as a new father, but with their support for each other, and from their housemates, they may just be able to find a way forward together.
Awakened Desires is the latest installment in Colette Davison’s My Kinky Housemate series. The books feature a group of kinky men who all share a large house and are actively involved in each other’s stories. So while this book stands alone well on the romance end, I think this series is best enjoyed when familiar with at least some of the other books. Before I go too far, I’ll note some trigger warnings here for post-partum depression, a recovering alcoholic, and past sexual abuse of a minor. Callan’s abuse is never described in any detail, only referred to in the broadest strokes, but take care if this is a sensitive subject for you.
The story has a nice friends-to-lovers vibe as Rory and Callan grew up in Ireland pretty much in each other’s pockets. We learned in past books that Rory is the one who reported Callan’s abuse and it ended up pulling their lives apart. Callan’s family moved him away and he was dealing with so much, he just dropped all contact with Rory, who was feeling guilty for his role in it all. So the guys have some unresolved issues when Callan suddenly shows back up in Rory’s life. I think Davison does a nice job rebuilding this friendship and letting it grow slowly into a relationship. I could feel the bond and connection between them right away, but this is a very slow burn. The men have things to sort out between them, but Callan is also coming to terms with his bisexuality, as well as interest in kink. Not to mention he is still somewhat emotionally fragile and needs to take things slowly. So they explore all of that with care, which I appreciated, and it worked well for these men and their relationship. There is a nice sense of sweetness and comfort and a lovely slow burn as the men move from friendship to more.
There are also some external issues that they are dealing with centering around Callan’s new role as a father. He broke up with his ex, Niamh, before she knew she was pregnant and she never told him she was expecting until she was almost ready to deliver. So Callan has to suddenly deal with unexpected fatherhood with a woman he doesn’t love or want as a partner. He also lives in Ireland, while she lives in London, and is trying to figure out the logistics of being involved in the baby’s life from far away. Niamh also is struggling with post-partum depression, as well as uncertainty about her own feelings about motherhood. So there is a lot going on and I think Davison handles it all sensitively. It would have been easy to make Niamh the villain here, but instead, her story is presented compassionately. We see clearly how she has basically no support system other than Callan, while he has a houseful of men who are willing to help out with child care, rent, etc so that he can take care of his son. I think this all comes together well and really showcases this sense of found family among the men of the house.
As with the other books, we get a bit of a teaser here for the next story in the series, and it looks like Hendricks is up next. I find him a really interesting character and we get to see some other sides of him here, so I am excited for his story.