Title: Professional Distance (Thorne and Dash #1)
Author: Silvia Violet Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 9-29-2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Length: 7 hours and 4mins
Reviewed by: Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
Thornwell Shipton is wealthy, uptight, closeted, and an incurable workaholic. A tragic love affair left him terrified of relationships, so he tells himself sex is better scheduled and paid for.
Riley Dashwood is young, easy-going, and comfortable in his own skin. He’s a passionate baker and an aspiring chef, working as an escort to save up for culinary school.
They’re clearly made for each other.
When Thorne hires Dash, it’s lust at first sight. After a few scorching nights together, both men start to wonder if what’s between them is more than physical, but their age gap and resistance to romance make them afraid to change their professional relationship to a personal one. Dash pushes Thorne to admit he wants things he’s denied himself for years. Kinky things. Soft, caring things. Things that force him to open his heart, not just his body. To move forward, one or the other must take a risk and ask for what he really wants.
I first read this story about a year ago and, as I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and writing, I was eager to listen to the audio version.
In a way, this is your typical May/December businessman and rent boy trope. You know the guys are going to fall in love despite all their protestations at the start that this is purely a physical undertaking in exchange for payment. What I like about this storyline is the way Silvia Violet developed her characters and their relationship gradually over time. Yes, there’s insta-attraction, but the love takes time to bloom. The sizzling chemistry between Thorne and Dash—in and out of the bedroom—makes this story hot as well as compelling. The notion that they have to keep their interaction ‘professional’ and maintain a distance provides conflict for both characters. Each wants more than the physical, but are wary of suggesting anything as such. Thus Thorne feels compelled to pay for Dash’s time, even when they are spending time together as if they are friends. And this results in the inevitable ‘break up’ because Dash misconstrues Thorne’s special offer.
Because of the nature of the story there are many sex scenes, but each one builds on the experience of the previous one and demonstrates their blossoming affection and romance. These scenes are steamy with light BDSM elements and some sexy use of food and toys. Unexpectedly, it is Thorne who demands a more dominant role from Dash and, despite being only twenty-two, he fulfils all of Thorne’s needs delightfully.
Thorne is an intriguing character. He starts off as quite prickly in nature. He is the typical rich businessman who has no time or inclination for a proper relationship. Over time, he softens as he falls in love. I liked how he becomes protective and jealous of Dash and how he wants to spend more than just Friday evenings in his company.
Dash is a confident young man with plenty of experience for the role he claims is all part of the service. He’s only doing this job to fund his training to become a chef. He helps Thorne relax and not focus on his work so much. They soon seem to be friends and Thorne is not sure if this is just part of Dash’s job. He secretly hopes it’s leading to more, as does Dash.
Much of the story is set in Thorne’s apartment: his couch, his bedroom, or his kitchen, but they do get to visit restaurants, an art gallery, an aquarium, and lake/island as well as their places of work. We don’t find out too much about their pasts. It’s all about their interaction now, the romance, and how they are going to deal with their feelings. Neither of them feels confident enough to say they want to move beyond the professional and go on a proper date. Thorne feels he has to pay for Dash’s time. And because he’s rich he can afford to do just that.
I thought the ‘break up’ when it came was a little contrived and Dash’s reaction was out of character. But it made for a few angst-filled weeks while they were apart. The making up was sweet, although I kept wondering why they wanted to take it slow this time around and delay their get together. The ending is HFN and there are two more stories in the series to enjoy.
The narration by Greg (aka Greg Tremblay) is excellent. He brings the storyline and characters to life. His voice and pace kept my attention throughout. Greg makes the love scenes sizzle even more, if that’s possible. The characters’ voices are distinctive and I particularly liked the sexy voice he gave to Thorne. There are quite a few internalized thoughts, but he made it perfectly when it was a character’s inner thoughts rather than spoken words.