Author: J.A. Rock
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 06/06/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: BDSM, Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Menage/Poly
We started the Subs Club to make the kink community safer for subs. Except now the others are so busy chasing their happy endings, it’s like they’ve forgotten what Bill did to Hal and the fact that he got away with it. They used to think I was betraying Hal’s memory by hooking up with the owners of the club where he died. Now they don’t seem to care about any of it anymore.
Maybe I am sometimes angry with GK and Kel for giving Bill a second chance, but they’ve been mentoring me for a year now, and whatever else they’ve done, they make me feel incredibly safe. So I want to try something: I want to offer them my complete submission, 24/7. To serve the people who forgave Bill. That’s the way I want to hurt.
Except I’m starting to care about them in a way I never meant to—and I think they feel the same way. But after Hal, I don’t know if I want to be in love again. Because what I really need, more than anything, is to see Bill brought to justice. Even if I have to do it myself. Even if it means losing GK and Kel.
It’s safe to say that Gould is looking for something, for answers, for some greater focus and fulfillment, a deeper connection to some of the people in his life than he has now. Is he looking in the right place? With the right people, and for the right reasons?
The first quarter of this story feels very isolating. It’s mostly Gould and his inner thoughts and workings, dealing with his grief over Hal, the changes going on within his group of friends, and what he’s trying to figure out about what he wants and needs for the kink part of his life. We get a few scenes between Gould and the familiar group of friends we’ve gotten to know from the first three books in this series. Otherwise, it’s Gould, sometimes with Kel and Greg, the couple who owns Riddle that we encountered previously and with whom Gould has been playing for the last year or so.For me, this was a lot of set-up and a slow start. I’m not sure it could have been done differently considering the heavy things Gould is working through in his life. I think that, if I hadn’t already known something about Gould from the previous stories and been able to utilize that emotional base, I would have had trouble connecting to him. Even with, it was a challenge in some spots.
Things begin to pick up as the circle of characters widens, as well as the sharing going on between Gould, Kel, and Greg. All three have their past experiences and current needs that they bring to the table and it starts to get very interesting as more and more of those are revealed. Kel and Greg are huge parts of Gould’s journey through dealing with and healing amidst grief, and what he thinks he wants and needs from and with them to satisfy the submissive part of himself.
As usual in this series, we have an awesomely diverse set of characters and, except for when they mention their various backgrounds and cultures in conversation, we’d be hard pressed to suss them out.
~ starts singing Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” to herself ~
And then I came across this passage, bursting with truth and old beauty, and it rips away any notion that this man Gould doesn’t feel and think to the very depths of his soul:
Could forgiveness be both? A gift and reckless? Well-intentioned but dangerous? A ritual repeated so many millions of times that it had lost its significance, and yet there was meaning there. Under countless hollow echoes, there was meaning. There was power, and there was a desire as frantic as lust, as innocent as a wish made on a star.
Rock once again demonstrates how there can be not a teeny weeny ounce of doubt regarding her ability to strip away the tedious layers of muck foist upon us by society and its demands for wearing masks all day long and instead allow us to feel the real of it all.
To top it all off is this here what Kel says. This is one of the most powerful things I’ve read. I wanted to scream ‘YES!’ because holy hell, YES.
”I want men to think I’m strong enough to care for them.”
I know!!!!!!! S’ok, go ahead and scream. Do it. If I was, from this day forward, forbidden from reading anything ever again, I almost think I could do it because of this line. I had to stop reading, actually, for a little while, to gather myself. To revel.
We do get some more scenes that involve some of the other characters we’ve gotten to know and love and laugh with over this series. I think, though, they sometimes highlighted the difficulty I was having in totally connecting with Gould. This is unusual for me when it comes to Rock’s stories. She still gets to the heart of the matter here but it feels matter of fact in the way Gould thinks and talks about some of the things I mentioned above. Now, this isn’t the case throughout the whole story, and I definitely had my emotional experiences, as you can see, but I can’t qualify this one as a home run for me.
Like the other books in this series, you could maybe read this as a standalone since the characters who make up the focus are different, just as the other three were written. However, you will without a doubt miss some of those emotional experiences that help make up Gould’s story, his wading through grief, his demonstration of love to his friends – the family he’s helped make – and his desire to engage more deeply into his kink and therefore live a more fulfilled life. Rather universal a desire, I’d say, no matter the application. 🙂
~ I also own my own copy of this book.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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