Rating: 3.75 stars
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Caleb hasn’t had an easy life. His mother wasn’t much of a mother due to crippling grief at the lost of her older son, Caleb’s brother, and the drugs she turned to to take the pain away. The one bright light in Caleb’s life, other than his art, was his grandfather, who told Caleb tales of his childhood in Bristol, England, and his best friend, Henry, who he had to leave behind. When his pops dies, Caleb uses the money he is left in the will and sails across to ocean to England to start a new life.
Rod is both lonely, and cursed with good friends who helpfully set him up on the Bears-4-U app in the hopes of getting him laid. Well, ideally it would get him a boyfriend, but they’re hopeful he’ll at least find someone to have a good time with. Rod sees one of the matches is the handsome young man he helped out just moments ago with a bloody head wound he gained taking on some white supremacist scum — the same young man who gave him quite a kiss in thanks. It doesn’t take more than a minute before Rod has swiped right, texted, and gained a date for himself.
But Rod has desires he’s not sure Caleb can take, even if he is easy on the eyes and a great kisser. Caleb, too, has secrets of his own, and a taste for pain he’s not sure the older man would understand. Fortunately, Rod is both a Dom and a sadist, and Caleb’s need for pain and submission make him everything Rod could ever hope for.
Stitch Me is part of the ten book, multi-author Bears-4-U series of stories about men who just need to find the perfect bear to snuggle with at night. Each book is meant to be a standalone, though some characters and clubs make appearances in several books. This entry involves kink exploration, BDSM, pet play, sounding, spanking, a cage, and trigger warnings for demeaning language (pain slut, fuck toy) and two graphic suicides. Caleb’s mother deliberately ODs in order to commit suicide and Rod tells a story about a patient who jumped to his death from a fourth story window.
Caleb is a bit of a bravo who enters street fights for money. While his host and best friend, Sandra, is more than willing to let him live rent free at her house, Caleb isn’t that sort of person. While he waits for his visa, he can’t exactly work a normal job, so it’s all under the table payments and what work he can snag. He’s not above a random fuck, carrying condoms in his backpack at all times, and up for just about anything so long as it results in he and his partner both having a good time. With Rod, Caleb is on uncertain footing since he’s never been in the BDSM lifestyle, and having someone take care of him with aftercare, emotional support, and cuddles is … odd. He’s used to caring for himself, not having someone at his side.
And then there’s Rod, who sees in Caleb someone who enjoys pain. Not just enjoys it, but thrills in it, takes pleasure in it, and needs it both as a release valve and as validation. Caleb is touch starved; the only time people ever touched him was to hit him, so he provoked them again and again, just to be acknowledged, just to be noticed. Just to be worthy of being noticed. Rob sees that, understand that, and sees in Caleb someone who is responsive, sensitive, and — like him — seeking a connection. Rob likes causing pain, likes making his sub submit, and he likes Caleb.
This is a pleasant read with an emphasis on the sex, the exploration and explanation of BDSM (using Caleb’s inexperience as a way to introduce several kinks), and good communication on the part of both the Dom and the sub. Rod is always checking on Caleb’s safe words, aware that Caleb isn’t familiar enough with the lifestyle and might not know his own limits; when Caleb pauses to think — such as in a punishment scene — he’s honest with what he’s feeling. That his color is yellow, but he wants to push himself, and knows he can trust Rob to not go too far or fast for him. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a scene like this in a book and I thought it was well done.