humbled coverRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel


Grayson knows that getting involved with his sexy boss, Robert McAvoy, would be a supremely bad idea. Rob is commanding, gorgeous, wealthy, and a Dom. But Grayson is a Dom as well, and he is not interested in getting on his knees for Rob (and he knows damn sure there is no way Rob is getting on his knees for him). Not to mention that people don’t tend to stick around in Grayson’s life and the idea of finally having Rob and losing him is more than Grayson can handle.

Rob wants Grayson and he knows they could be amazing together. He loves that Grayson is strong willed and it makes it all the more rewarding when Grayson is willing to submit to him. Rob is also pretty sure that Grayson isn’t the total Dominant that he believes himself to be, but getting Grayson to give them a chance isn’t easy. Luckily, Rob loves a challenge…

Humbled starts Kate Hawthorne’s Trophy Dom Social Club series, featuring a group of wealthy, gorgeous Doms. This story is very character driven and focused in on Grayson and Rob as they push and pull and try to figure out how they can make something work between them. The attraction is there from the start and the guys begin the story already super into each other. There is flirting and sexual tension and Hawthorne builds the dynamic nicely so that I didn’t feel like I had missed anything by jumping into relationship with the guys already hot for one another. The conflict here is that both of these guys are a little skittish about relationships in general, combined with the fact that they are clashing as two Doms. It seems pretty clear that Rob is all about the dominance and he is not a guy who is ever going to want anything different, but we can see that Grayson might have more of a desire to submit than he has ever realized (or at least, to submit to Rob). But admitting that and accepting it isn’t easy for Grayson and so there is a lot of back and forth between the guys as they try to figure out their way.

I think Hawthorne does a nice job exploring things for both men as they are thinking through this relationship, what they want from each other, and what they are willing to give. I think Grayson has the biggest change, as he is fearful both of accepting his interest in submitting to Rob, but also of taking a risk on a relationship in general. His two best friends are both dating someone seriously and Rob feels like they don’t have time for him anymore. So he feels like losing Rob would be inevitable and it is making him wary. At the same time, the pull between the men is very strong and when they both let go, they are just a really good fit.

I think my biggest issue here is that this is a long story and there is so much push and pull and it just went on too long for me. Every time it looks like the guys have found a way to get on the same page, something immediately seems to happen to throw them off again. I kept thinking, okay now we are at the part where we will see them figuring it all out, and then we’d be right back to where we started. Some of it is a lack of communication and some of it seems to be just insecurities creeping up. But I just found it to be too much repetition and not enough sense of things moving forward until really late in the book. I do think ultimately things come together well and these guys make a good fit when they manage to get out of their own way. But I do wish it didn’t take them so long and I could have felt more forward progress over the course of the story.

I think Grayson’s insecurities were well explained, but we never delve as much into Rob’s past. The story mentions a past relationship a few times that seems to have left some emotional scars, and I kept waiting for it to be explained or for him to talk to Grayson about it, but he never does. So I would have liked a little more time spent on that issue to help round Rob’s character out as well.

As a note, this is the first book in the series, but this is also part of a shared world and we meet Grayson in Necessary Space, the first book in Hawthorne’s All in Good Time series. There we also meet Grayson’s best friends, Miles and Wes (and Wes is the brother of Miles’ new partner, Hendrix). Wes also gets a book of his own in that series. Both Wes and Miles play big side roles here and their new relationships are impacting Grayson and part of what is making him nervous about being with Rob. There are other connections to various Hawthorne stories as well, which aren’t laid out in the book, but regular readers may recognize other characters and locations. Hawthorne does give a bit of backstory about Grayson’s relationships with Wes and Miles, so I think there is a foundation here for new readers. However, I think folks who have read the All in Good Times series may find that background helpful here.

We do meet the rest of the Trophy Doms, particularly Archie, who is the MC of the next book, Edged. I think the set up here is nice with this group of friends and it will be interesting to see their stories.

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