Author: Anna Hedley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Caine
Rating: 3.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 10/30/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: BDSM, M/M Romance, Menage/Poly
Ben Dean is afraid and ashamed of his tendencies. But after the end of a disastrous relationship, he decides to explore his outer limits, the part of himself that he’s never dared to examine too closely. The part that’s interested in dominating a willing sub.
Jacob Peers is an accomplished sculptor and lifelong switch. Growing jaded with the incessant issues of macho pretend doms, he needs someone who knows when and where to treat him like a sub. In Ben, he sees the perfect raw material.
Upon reading the blurb, I expected Boundaries to be about a young man receiving training in domination from an experienced sub. In the first couple of chapters, it appeared that was exactly what I was getting. Ben is 21 and searching for someone who can help him develop his dominant side. He meets Jacob, an older, experienced switch, who agrees to teach Ben how to be a Dom. The story appeared to be heading in that direction, especially with their initial “training” scene. After that, however, things got a bit confusing, and the story took off in a multitude of directions and never really saw the development of a relationship between the two main characters.
The first true training scene between Ben and Jacob is quite well done, though I had a bit of difficulty believing that an experienced switch would allow a Dom-in-training to wield the implements he does. That aside, this particular scene has a lovely tone and focuses on the conflict warring inside of Ben’s head: how he could take such pleasure in inflicting so much pain. Bingo! This is an excellent point of tension to develop, expand upon, and work through for the duration of the book. I loved this about Ben, loved his desire and rush for dominance and administering punishment contrasted against the horror of craving it so badly. I wanted to see him grow from this, to develop his dominant side, and to understand and embrace his needs and wants. Unfortunately, the story never quite gets there, and the internal struggle that seems so interesting and compelling is replaced by numerous external conflicts that end up distracting from and eventually replacing Ben’s growth as a character.
Jacob’s character was a bit tough for me to like. He vacillates from kind and patient to being a downright ass, and it never truly feels as though he cares for Ben. There is little evidence within the story that either of them has an emotional connection to the other, and their HFN ending feels like a compromise rather than a commitment. The author introduces further external tension and conflict through seemingly unnecessary peripheral characters and arguments. Kyle is quite an interesting and sympathetic character, and I can only hope that his story is going to be told on its own in the future. Here, however, he is too much of a distraction and a further obstacle to the bonding between Ben and Jacob. Page time for the two MCs, particularly for the building of trust and communication between them and for Ben’s growth as a Dom, is sacrificed for extra characters who, I assume, are being positioned for further installments in this series.
Overall, the writing in Boundaries is technically sound, and the portrayal of the BDSM scenes between Ben and Jacob, though too few, are well-crafted and engaging. I also enjoyed the artistic nature of each character, and the descriptive details of their various works are particularly interesting. Ben’s struggle with unleashing his sadistic side is probably the most captivating element of the story, and I only wish it had been more of a focus. Since this story is titled as #1 in a series, perhaps there will be further expansion upon these two characters; however, it would have been a more satisfying reading experience to see them grow as individuals and as a BDSM couple here.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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