Title: Switching Gears (The Solitary Knights of Pelham Bay #3)
Author: Claire Thompson
Publisher: Romance Unbound
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M, BDSM
Length: Short story (18K words)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Jack told himself love was for losers, what he really needed was someone strong enough to show him the truth…
Jack Harris, a tattooed auto mechanic with roguish good looks, prides himself on being impervious to love. When challenged to reconnect with the one that got away, Alexei was the first to come to Jack’s mind. It’s been years since Jack walked away from the traditional leather scene, its rigid rules and conventions too confining for a man used to taking who and what he wants. Though they’ve lost contact over the years, he’s always maintained respect and affection for his old mentor and scene partner, Alexei, the only man he ever trusted completely. Alexei hones in on Jack’s anger and restlessness, with the same uncanny knack he always had. Alexei says he has the cure… Jack isn’t so sure
Marcos Savakis watches with disdainful amusement as Jack boasts of his sexual conquests at the monthly meetings of the Solitary Knights. Marcos has spent years in the scene, training submissives to serve others, his heart insulated from the process. At the request of a dying friend, he reluctantly accepts a new charge to train. The man he discovers waiting on his knees is the last person he would have ever expected, and the first person to touch his heart.
Jack owned his own exotic car restoration garage and walked with a swagger to show the world that he was his own man and no one was his master. After being burned two decades ago by the man he loved he refused to let anyone else into his heart, and the only sex he had was one night stands to scratch his itch. He was loyal to his friends and even went out of his way for them at times, which was what got him into trouble with Marcos because he helped his friend Ryan when someone slashed the tires on his Porsche. Marcos was incensed that Jack had used the tires he bought for his car even though it was an emergency, and his unreasonable attitude made Jack so enraged that he injured his hand when he tried to relieve his frustration by smashing his fist against a concrete wall. The fact that he could have seriously hurt himself was a wake-up call and Jack sought help from his old friend and mentor, Alexi, who had been there for him years ago when he needed someone. The solution Alexi proposed was not something Jack had imagined and therefore he could not readily agree to try it, even to achieve serenity, which Alexi thought was the key component he lacked in his life. Would such a proud man accept who and what he was or would the cure be too high a price?
Marcos, a Dom, was the exact opposite of Jack in temperament. He was always elegantly attired and worked for an auction house. He donated some of his spare time as a Trainer for The Quarters, a hardcore underground BDSM club but he rarely connected with the men he trained although he sometimes had one night stands or even spent an occasional weekend with them. He, also, had been rejected in his youth by the man he loved and was heartbroken when he realized that to Nicholas, his Top, he was only one of his “boys.” He never submitted to anyone again and spent years studying with other Dominants to become a Dom himself. Since then there had been no one with whom he shared an emotional bond, and it looked like his wish for someone who was looking for erotic submission would go unrealized. When his old friend Alexi asked him to help Jack he could not refuse.
Their meeting set the stage for two men who had never been close and had always grated on each other’s nerves, to be the most intimate of partners, if only they could get over their personal antipathy. Could two such men whose personal philosophies were so diametrically opposed ever find common ground?
When Jack and Marcos met sparks flew, since neither man knew who Alexi had chosen for this very delicate operation. Jack was conflicted by his feelings for Marcos which were definitely not positive, and Marcos did not think that Jack was in the right frame of mind for his help. How they compromised and reached agreement is the thrust of the story and I thought that the author did an excellent job of showing that intense play could make someone achieve that state of mind that some of us desire – a state of nirvana. Claire Thompson didn’t sugar coat what it would take to help Jack resolve his issues, and if you are not familiar with the scene this may not be the right book for you. Claire categorizes this as “mild” BDSM but like everything in life it’s all a matter of perspective. I really like this story but then I have read and enjoyed many of these books. The story had an HFN ending which I thought was quite appropriate and realistic.
Claire Thompson is on familiar ground in this newest entry in the Solitary Knights sweepstakes with Switching Gears and she shows her intimate knowledge of a world that’s unknown to most of us. She put the guys through their paces in the book and I assume that the technical information is correct since I’m not an expert in this area; however, this author has been writing about the scene for over a decade and, as well, has lived the lifestyle for a very long time, so I trust that she would not place the characters in an unsafe environment.
I recommend this book to any reader who is a fan of Claire Thompson’s writing, or is familiar with BDSM romances, or someone who wants to try something different and exciting. Recommended.