A guest review by Jenre
Simon Weatherly is recovering from a bad break up with his boyfriend Luke and in a rut. A knock at the door brings Chris Ross into his life, a man who, like him, was involved with Luke, both as his employee and lover. Cheated of his wages, Chris has taken a valuable book from Luke, which he offers to sell to Simon, a collector, an offer Simon accepts without realising the consequences.
In the days that follow, debts are repaid and Simon and Chris discover that they share more than just an ex; they’re a matched pair, one seeking control and one wanting to give it up.
This novella which was originally part of the Fabulous Brits anthology appealed to me because I really like this author and also because the story is set in Britain with British characters.
At 28, Simon seems older than his years. He works for the British library, collects classic children’s books and spends his evenings at home alone. When a young man, Chris, arrives on his doorstep wanting to sell a very familiar looking book, he becomes the catalyst for Simon to move away from the dull tedium of his life and start to experiment with sexual games in a way he has never considered before.
I really liked Simon. He’s quiet and bookish with a wry sense of humour which I found very appealing. He’s also a rather odd mix of passivity, especially when it comes to his ex-boyfriend, Luke, and determination when it comes to not being outdone by Chris. The story is completely focused on the two men with all the action taking place between them. They spend a lot of time talking with each other and I liked how the conversations were varied in tone from very stilted at first to something more natural as we see their relationship develop on it’s way to a HFN. The main part of the story deals with an agreement between the men which leads to Simon suggesting a sexual game. I liked that he surprised himself by starting the game and that Chris is able to give Simon confidence and control through the role playing they adopt.
In fact the theme of control runs all the way through the story. Simon has no control when it comes to his ex-boyfriend and revels in the fact that Chris allows him to take control. This control isn’t done through physical force – although there is a little bit of tying up during sex – but more about submission to the desires of another person, and I found this theme interesting and highly erotic.
If I have a niggle about the story is was that there was a slightly irritating misunderstanding towards the end of the story. This happens because Simon suddenly loses his control over the situation the men are in at the time and he reacts badly. However, this misunderstanding is resolved very quickly so it didn’t annoy me as much as a lengthy separation would have done.
Overall this is an enjoyable story about two seemingly opposite men who end up having more in common than either of them thought at first. I would recommend it it those who like tightly written character based stories, and who like a slow erotic build up in their sex scenes.