Title: Disguises
Author: E.M. Lynley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: novella (62 pages)
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5


Race Wilcox and Derrick Steele are best friends and co-stars of a mildly popular television series perpetually on the verge of cancellation. Promotion and ratings are high priority for the network. So when a Halloween party turns into a huge publicity event, Race and Derrick are obliged to attend.

Race hates the idea, and only the fact that Derrick will be there makes the idea bearable… until he finds out Derrick’s girlfriend will be there too. The sudden flare of jealousy stuns Race, and there will be many more surprises to come during and after the party, surprises that will affect Race’s and Derrick’s relationship forever.


Disguises is about the masks that people wear when they don’t want anyone to know who they really are. Race has been best friends with Derrick for two and a half years. They are together almost 24/7 except for the times that  Derrick’s girlfriend Stella visits, when they usually hang out. Stella works on another television show which shoots in Canada so, at best, her visits are once a month. Recently Race has been jealous of Stella and he can’t  understand why.

Race and Derrick have been ordered to attend a Halloween party but Race didn’t want to go because he hated studio parties, and in addition Stella would be going with Derrick. However, he had no choice since their show was always on the brink of cancellation and their attendance was a command performance.

At the party he and Derrick stayed together most of the time since Stella had disappeared, and when they found her she seemed to be pretty tight with another actress, which didn’t impress Derrick. However he soon joined them and they left together shortly after. In the meantime, at the party everyone wanted to play with Race’s whip since he had dressed up as Indiana Jones. He hooked up with one of the women, Eliza, and took her home mainly because he was jealous of Derrick’s and Stella’s relationship. But the night didn’t exactly turn out the way he planned. When they arrived at his place Eliza, who was very drunk, tied him up and whipped him to the point where he was in some serious pain. The next day he felt so bad he couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag.  When he explained the situation to Derrick he offered to put some soothing balm on his many cuts and bruises, but when Derrick touched his body they became aroused. Derrick confessed that he was gay and they ended up in bed shortly after and had some pretty hot sex. 

Turns out they had both been hiding something  – their attraction to each other. Derrick and Race had been good friends for sometime but apparently not such good friends that they shared their innermost secrets. Stella’s relationship with Derrick was another big secret that was not revealed until Derrick came out to Race who finally admitted his attraction to his best friend.

The plot was not believable in one critical area. I didn’t understand how Race could have allowed Eliza to tie him up, whip and bite him, causing him so much pain that the next  day he was  incapable of  doing his job. Granted he was a also little drunk but he could have stopped her from beating the crap out of him by screaming, since his mouth was not taped. In addition, no matter how drunk he was, self preservation should have kicked in so that he wouldn’t allow her to wield the whip AND tie him up at the same time. I do understand that the author had to figure out how to get the two protagonists together but to me this didn’t seem to be a viable plan.

Disguises worked on some levels but I wish that a few elements of the story were not so patently obvious as a device to get Derrick and Race together, in such a way that Derrick would have to touch Race intimately.

This is a Gay for You story since Race was still interested in women, and although he did not have explicit sex in the book with Eliza, it was alluded to when he woke up the next day.

The guys’ personalities were complete opposites, with Derrick being very bubbly and good natured and Race as the darker, more self contained person. I liked Derrick a lot more than Race, and probably if the plot were different Race would have appealed to me more.


I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball


  • Ingrid
    I don’t believe that the intention was a D/s scene, it was more of a whipping which might have started out as fun but got out of hand because they were both drunk after the party. The story was well written but that one scene seemed incongruous in the context of the story. I understand why it was there but it just didn’t work for me.

    • At the author, I’d like to explain the “whipping scene.” First of all, the scene does not appear in the story. It’s only alluded to and its main purpose was to be humorous and ironic and part of a running joke about the whip.

      It was never intended to be a real BDSM scene or any reflection on genuine BDSM play. It is there an example of a guy who thinks he’s going to get the night of his life and ends up regretting it. Race sees his friend leave a party with two women and he needs to find a way to have a wilder night, only it comes back to get him. It’s a good example of why one shouldn’t attempt any BDSM play unless they go into it carefully, though it wasn’t intended that way.

      But that one “scene” itself is such a small part of the story. It’s what happens as a result–what Race realizes about himself–that’s more important, so I would certainly hate for people to not read the book because of this.

      • Em
        I believe I said in the review that Race did not appear to be into the BDSM scene. However, the whipping, tying up etc. does seem to have some BDSM characteristics and elements. As you said, that scene was a small part of the book but it was pivotal in terms of getting Derrick to touch Race intimately, and we know what followed.


        What concerned me about the scene (even though it was not on page, similar to the sex with Eliza) was the fact that there were no safeguards in place for Race who was tied up while being whipped and bitten. The fact that they were both drunk makes this even more dangerous and his injuries were a clear indication of this.


        I liked the writing as I do many of your stories EM, however, Disguises didn’t work for me because of this one scene. Other readers may think nothing of it since everyone is different. As a reviewer I feel that I have to point out scenes in a book that I thought might be either over the top or I didn’t understand their relevance. Clearly Race was jealous when Derrick left the party with the two women, and I mentioned that in the review as the reason why he hooked up with Eliza.

        • I agree with your observations but not your expectations for what was intended to be a guy looking for casual sex who only expects to get tied to his bed. But it’s a very valid situation for a person who doesn’t understand BDSM gets in over their head and with the wrong partner. Race didn’t know enough about BDSM to realize any of this until it was too late. You cannot fault a character who doesn’t put safeguards in place when he has no clue what safeguards even are. He thinks it’s going to be fun to get tied up and that’s as far as his thought process goes.

          The BDSM community emphasizes education just for this reason. Many people get hurt by going into a BDSM experience unprepared in real life and this is why it’s a bad idea. But if he knew enough to have a safeword, for example, he would also know enough NOT to want to play with a stranger. You’ve put this into Catch-22 territory by expecting him to know enough to avoid the problem, which he only got into because he didn’t know enough.

          Race chose the wrong partner since she was someone whom he couldn’t trust. Even Derrick mentions in a later scene that if you do this sort of thing you need to know what you are doing and only with a partner you know and trust.

          Again this scene was meant to be a humorous episode and not a realistic portrayal of a full-on BDSM scene. Anyone who has really tried to use a bullwhip knows it’s damn hard to hit what you’re aiming at without a lot of practice, even more difficult if you are drunk. Eliza would have to be very adept to inflict this amount of damage.

          I’ve done a lot of research and taken classes in BDSM, just for the record, and used floggers and singletails, as both top and bottom.

          • EM

            I agree with what you said about adequate safeguards in BDSM. Just last Friday James Buchanan did an excellent post on the site about the dangers for the unwary and he urged that authors educate themselves before writing about the scene. Obviously you are very well acquainted with the scene going by your comments.


            This is what I said in my earlier comment to Ingrid –

            “I don’t believe that the intention was a D/s scene, it was more of a whipping which might have started out as fun but got out of hand because they were both drunk after the party. The story was well written but that one scene seemed incongruous in the context of the story. I understand why it was there but it just didn’t work for me.”


            As you can see, I agree with what you are saying about this starting out as fun but ending up as not so much fun. The only comment I made was that it did not work for me. Race’s character expected to have a bit of fun and took some risks which ended up hurting him. This is, after all, a fantasy, and sometimes these scenes work but at other times they don’t, for whatever reason. Reviews are just one person’s opinion and I’m sure that many other reviews on Disguises would probably not see anything wrong with this particular scenario.


            I have deleted the reference to BDSM in the review so that there is no misunderstanding.

  • It sounds a tad disappointing. I like this friends to lovers theme so I had looked at this one. But the add a D’s scene just for furthering the plot? There must have been other ways to get them together.


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