Author: J.A. Rock
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artist: April Martinez
Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars
I made the mistake of starting this novel before bed on a work night. I finally forced myself to put it down at the halfway point only because I had to be functional the next day, but I could have easily read this from start to finish without stopping. I was totally engrossed and invested in this story and needed to know the outcome.
By His Rules was very emotional for me. I bonded with Aiden from the get go and his journey broke my heart. Watching an abusive BDSM relationship force his descent into self loathing and uncertainty was hard. To see him let someone else take away his power and belittle and abuse him made me cry. I wanted to reach into the book and kill Scott myself. I wanted to tell Aiden to stop listening to Scott, that Scott was just a horrible person and nothing he said was really about Aiden, but about Scott being an abuser. I wanted Aiden to know that he deserved so much more than he was getting. So when Keaton entered the picture I did a little happy dance because there was hope. Hope that Aiden may just find what he needed to be whole again. Not in the way of a savior, but in the form of someone who would uplift him and show Aiden his value. It was still very emotional once Aiden and Keaton were on the path to recovery. It was so hard to see Aiden continue to struggle and to see him backslide whenever something troublesome came up in his life. Aiden was a great character with depth and growth. Keaton was as well. I wish the author would have spent more time on Keaton himself but what we were given painted an excellent picture of a caring and nurturing man.
However, I was a bit let down by Keaton and Aiden’s relationship. It started out promising, with Keaton establishing domestic discipline and taking control for Aiden, providing what he needed to heal and grow. This was an interesting concept and I was eager to see how things would play out. But as the relationship progressed, I stopped seeing Aiden as a damaged individual and started seeing him as a petulant child needing an authority figure. Keaton stepped into this role, but for me things crossed a line into a Father/son type relationship rather than two adult partners. Keaton responded to Aiden’s childish ways as a father would, even calling him kid, kiddo, and boy. For me this was creepy because these men were in a sexual and supposedly romantic relationship, but were behaving as a father and rebellious son would. This took away some of my enjoyment in the relationship aspect of this novel.
I also struggled a bit with the romantic love that developed between Aiden and Keaton. I never understood why love was involved at all let alone so quickly. They were in love after only one month together. What I saw on the page was a mutually beneficial relationship based on healing. But I never understood why things turned to love other than the characters were saying those words. I never felt it. Perhaps it was because I viewed the relationship as that between a parent and child that the romantic love was lost on me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had great characters, story development, and emotion. Aiden and Keaton’s growth was well done. It was well written and there was so much for me to take in and learn about domestic discipline. I struggled with the love portion, but other readers may not have the same issues I did. I encourage you to pick this one up and make that assessment for yourself. Oh, and how stunning is the cover?
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
By His Rules was an interesting look at a bad BDSM relationship and a good Domestic Discipline relationship. I liked the characters and the emotions involved and how the author portrayed both relationships.
Scott was a sadistic Dom that thrived on humiliating and hurting his subs. You could see from the beginning that he wasn’t good for Aiden. However he had flashes of a soft side that kept him from being wholly evil and prevented me from completely hating him. That didn’t make seeing him abuse Aiden easy though.
Keaton is the complete opposite with his calm and controlled mannerisms. It was interesting to see Aiden readjust his thinking from what he thought he wanted and needed to what was actually good for him. I loved Keaton’s patience and care. Aiden did not change quietly though and it was tough to see him break.
I liked Aiden’s friend Hera and her girlfriends; they tried to be as supportive as they could under the circumstances.
I was happy with the end and satisfied with their HEA. J.A. Rock has been a solid author for me!
I would like to thank the publisher 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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