Architect James Justin impulsively lets himself be picked up in a biker bar by seductive hunk Bram Lord for a one night stand that turns into something bigger. The physically impressive, forceful stranger mets, matches and exceeds James’ sexual fantasies, but can shy, uncertain James be everything the strongly committed Bram wants?
Two men hook up in a biker bar for one reason and one reason only and that would normally be the end of it. That would be your first conclusion and you would be right, and you would also be wrong. If you love romance and the whole “opposites attract” storyline you won’t be able to resist Bram and James.
James Justin is a junior architect in a well-known architectural firm. He had done a lot of work on a project – restoration of a heritage house – and he thought it would be his step up the ladder to success but he just found out that his boss had assigned the project to someone else with more seniority. James is very disappointed and decides to drown his sorrows in the nearest bar, which is where he meets his dream man – incredibly hot, rough, forceful, dominating and sexy as hell Bram Lord who makes James pant. Soon they are outside in the alley having the hottest sex and neither man wants it to end there. James wants to lick Bram from the bottom of his cowboy boots to the top of his ten gallon hat and Bram just wants the entire package that is his Jamie.
From their first date everything about Bram was a new experience for James, from his chivalry in seeing to James’ comfort, to his protective streak, his teasing and his loving. Poor James had no idea what hit him but loved every minute of it particularly when Bram showed him his masterful side by controlling him during sex. Bram knew he had definitely found his man and would do everything to keep him, even if he had to tie him to his bed.
Was the relationship all sweetness and light? Definitely not, as Bram had to restrain some of the more take charge aspects of his personality, especially where James’ job was concerned, otherwise he knew the affair would be over before he could snap his fingers. James, the smaller and physically weaker partner, had to practice the art of give and take and learn how to take what was offered by Bram, with both hands, while still maintaining his independence and integrity. Their relationship was complex from the very beginning and James had to assert himself continually in order not to be overwhelmed by the more forceful Bram who was not accustomed to being denied.
A Bit of Rough is sensuous, passionate, addictive (I’ve read it many times since I bought it in 2005) and demonstrates Laura Baumbach’s ability as a storyteller par excellence to draw me into a book despite two stereotypical characters that are just too perfectly matched. Bram is the big, hunky, extrovert alpha male, owner of a construction company, who falls for small pretty, delicate James, an architect. Dom and sub in a symbiotic relationship, but their interactions are what give the story its charm and provide a brief look into what makes human beings who they are. Even though Bram adored James he could not resist trying to change those same characteristics that attracted him in the first place, and the pull of emotion, love, and fighting for dominance lifted this book into the realm of a “keeper” for me.
There is external conflict from James’ neighbour Williams who loved to terrorize him whenever he met him in the corridors of their apartment building, which brought out all of Bram’s protective instincts, and Bram in full defense of his man is a sight to behold, but James has a lot of spunk and deals with both Bram and the bully in his own way. One aspect of the relationship between Bram and James that I would love to have seen is Bram “bottoming” for James, just once, but it didn’t happen even though Bram seemed willing; I thought that would have made his character more nuanced, but that’s just me.
Of course A Bit of Rough is not perfect, very few books are – there are editorial and spelling errors which sometimes took me out of the story but they were not so many that they affected my enjoyment of the book. I should point out that when I checked my review copy of A Bit of Rough later, it was the original ebook published by Torquere Press; in the newer print version published by MLR Press many of these errors have been corrected, and I have therefore revised my rating to 5 stars. The plot was not complex but the prose and dialogue and above all, the characters, made me love this book which is one of my favourite M/M romances along with Laura’s other gem, Out There In The Night.
There is some light BDSM in the book which is to be expected given Bram’s character, but it is only a very small part of the story and in my opinion adds to the relationship.
Purists may not agree with my rating of this book which committed the “unpardonable” sin of having stereotypical protagonists, but I think that the author managed to infuse a lot of complexity into the relationship, which added to its charm. Highly recommended!