Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

After working a case with Wander’s team, private investigator Ryan Mason decides to join the team permanently and move into the mansion where the team is staying. Ryan might no longer consider himself a Dom, but many of the men on the team are interested in kink and having them readily available and willing for sex is a bonus. Ryan is working through the demons of his past, but that doesn’t stop him from being drawn to one sub in particular.

Alex Beck may be the youngest on the team and he might be new to being a submissive, but he knows what he wants. He loves the family dynamic of the team, and he’s damn good at his job as a security specialist. Ryan knows just how to push his buttons, but the grumpy older man keeps an emotional distance. When the two are paired together to solve the case of a dead racehorse, they get off to a rocky start. But they quickly realize how well they work together and, as the clues start coming in and they chase down leads, they make slow and steady progress.

But Alex wants to learn to be a better submissive, and Ryan can’t give him what he needs. Learning from another Dom isn’t his first choice, but it seems he has no other option. It doesn’t sit well with Ryan, though, and when he realizes Alex needs more, he steps up and into the role of Dom. The two connect on every level, but Ryan is still closed off emotionally.

As the case comes to a head, so do things with Ryan and Alex. They might have solved the case, but things between them are on the verge of change. Ryan has to learn how to open his heart again if he doesn’t want to lose Alex.

I have been looking forward to more in the No Regrets series since the first book, No Surrender, came out and it’s been a long time coming. Phoenix didn’t disappoint with both an interesting case for the team, and a high heat, extra kinky couple. In the first book, there were clear signs that Alex and Ryan would find their way to each other, but the journey is not without obstacles. This book does well enough to stand on its own, but I will say that it’s best enjoyed in series order.

Ryan is certainly the epitome of the grumpy stereotype. Some of that is just his personality, but it also stems from the trauma he’s been through. Trauma that he’s barely worked through and still carries the guilt for. He’s broken in some ways and, as a result, denies the part of himself that is Dominant, never wanting to be in a vulnerable position again. But caring for and dominating Alex not only sets Ryan on a path to healing, but also makes him realize that it’s intrinsic to who he is.

Alex is a sweetheart, through and through, who loves sexually serving others, as well as light humiliation play. He’s new to the lifestyle and still learning, and there’s no better place to do that but with a group of kinky men who understand. But even though he is a ray of sunshine, Alex is also very good at his job. I liked the dichotomy within him, as it really fleshed out his character well. And I liked his perseverance in regards to Ryan, without it going overboard.

The two men are clearly exactly right for each other, but they have to work through a lot of feelings before they can figure out a future. Ryan, especially, has to put in the work about his past and how he can reconcile that with reality. The relationship between them develops at an organic pace, and feels real and true to who these men are. I did have a small issue with the fact that once Ryan decides to take the reins, it’s not long before he also seems to work through his trauma. While there are bits of it still lingering, I almost felt as if he lets go of what he’s been holding onto so tightly a little too easily. But to be fair, I was also willing to go with it as the chemistry between the MCs is so intense, as is the sex and kink they engage in. This is a high heat series, but especially this book. And because of the dynamic, and just how right these two feel for each other, I was able to let my quibble go. Their dynamic is so good, and I love the way Ryan is so easily able to not only read Alex, but give him exactly what he needs.

The counterpoint to the romance is the mystery of a dead racehorse and all that comes with it. I thought the author did an excellent job building the clues and laying things out so that it came to a good conclusion. There was a bit of a twist toward the end that ramped up the intensity, and the “bad guy” came about in a believable fashion.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and am very much looking forward to more in this series. I love the found family dynamic, and the way all these characters interact. I like that the mysteries and suspense aspect are wrapped up at the end of the book and I have no doubt that this will continue forward. If you’re looking for high heat and kink, with great characters, check out this book and series.