Guest review by Lily
Book one in the Smuggler’s Cove Series.
Wounded in Iraq, Dean Hudson is forced to give up his dream of a career in the Marine Corps. Nearly recovered from the physical wounds that left him scarred, he resigns himself to a life alone, and begins to deal with the emotional and mental scars the war left behind while he tries to rebuild a life. Having kept his homosexuality a secret for so long, he doesn’t expect to find love or acceptance in the arms of a knight.
On the weekends, successful brewery co-owner, Dom Ethan Moreland dons armour and a sword and fights other knights. The adrenaline rush and stress relief provided by the atmosphere of the renaissance faire also serve as a constant reminder of the love he still hasn’t found and can’t remember having.
When Dean meets Ethan dressed as a knight, he never dreams that he will find happiness and love on his knees while submitting to Ethan.
Dean Hudson is a former Marine who was badly injured in Iraq. Back in the U.S. he’s now staying with his sister and trying to recover from his physical wounds. He also has emotional and mental issues to deal with, such as PTSD. To please his sister he accompanies her to a weekend Renaissance Faire where he meets Ethan Moreland.
Ethan is a successful businessman who enjoys playing the role of a knight during his weekends. He’s also a Dom and is attracted to Dean and feels he would make a good sub. In short order he installs Dean in his home and begins to train him to be his sub. Dean is very unsure of the situation having no previous experience with BDSM but at the same time is drawn to Ethan so he agrees to a one week trial period. As their days together pass Dean and Ethan have both good and bad times as they get to know each other and as Dean adjust to Ethan’s domination. In the short span of time in which this story takes place they do fall for each other quickly and the sex scenes are quite hot.
There were several things I liked about this book. I liked the descriptions of the Renaissance Faire and the behind the scenes feel to it. I also enjoyed Dean and Ethan’s interactions with the secondary characters including Dean’s sister and Ethan’s business associates and Faire friends. I also felt that Dean’s emotional state was written well. After the horrors he experienced in Iraq it’s to be expected that he would have more than just physical scars to deal with and I felt that part was well written.
For the most part I enjoyed reading Dean and Ethan’s story. I felt both characters were interesting with Dean being the more likable and sympathetic one. Ethan for his part comes across as strong and sure of himself but also a bit inflexible at times. He’s a Dom and only interested in a Master/slave relationship with Dean and not any kind of ‘vanilla’ relationship. However that raised concerns for me in regards to Dean’s needs. Dean many times questions his decision to enter into the lifestyle and whether it’s a good thing for him and it felt at times as if Ethan were pushing too much and taking advantage of Dean. For me the D/s power dynamic felt off with it being too much in Ethan’s favor when Dean clearly needed to maintain some control over himself and his life.
Overall I was left with mixed feelings on this one. Parts of the story worked well for me but I did have reservations that left me a bit dissatisfied with the book. The ending does give a peek at Dean and Ethan’s life together a bit down the road but it would have been nice to actually see their developing relationship and Dean dealing with his new life.