Art history student Rodrigo is in the middle of a busy semester when he literally runs into a sexy librarian. He and Ian discover they have more in common than just instant attraction and friendship; there’s a kinky element to their affair they both enjoy. But Rodrigo is also drawn to Professor Daniel Sullivan, and he just can’t shake the desire he feels for the older man.
The end of the term reveals a few surprising secrets about both objects of Rodrigo’s desires, and while he’s thrilled by the games of trust and passion with Ian, it’s fantasies of Daniel dominating him that are setting Rodrigo on fire.
I had looked forward to reading this book because I quite enjoyed the previous offering by Alix Bekins, When Work is a Pleasure. However I didn’t find An Academic Dilemma quite as good a story.
Four months after his previous boyfriend moved out Rodrigo was assigned to be the research assistant to Professor Daniel Sullivan, who was hot enough that Rodrigo didn’t mind helping him with his research. On his first assignment for the professor to find a few books he needed, he bumped into and almost knocked over someone else in the library who turned out to be Ian, one of the librarians. After seeing each other at the library a couple of times they went out for a beer and agreed to go surfing that weekend. In the meantime Rodrigo was having fantasies about his professor who was obviously gay, but he made it clear that he had a partner.
After Rodrigo and Ian went surfing they flirted with each other and Rodrigo was all set to suggest that they pursue the attraction further in his bedroom, when Ian dropped a bombshell and told him that he was seeing someone. When Rodrigo got over his surprise Ian indicated that he would still like to go home with him because he and his partner weren’t exclusive, and in any event his lover knew he was attracted to Rodrigo and was okay with it. Although he was uneasy about this new type of arrangement Rodrigo took Ian to his apartment and they had sex – wonderful sex – and started spending a lot of time together. Ian introduced light BDSM games when they were having sex and although Rodrigo preferred to bottom he was surprised that he also loved being submissive. They escalated their love play and Rodrigo found that he also enjoyed being spanked and whatever else Ian dished out. However, there was a complication because Rodrigo was falling hard for Ian and he knew that there could never be a real relationship between them since he already had a partner whose bed he slept in every night.
This state of affairs went on until the end of the semester when Rodrigo’s proposal for his dissertation was submitted. That evening Ian picked him up for a celebratory dinner and it was then he met Ian’s secret lover. Since there was a mutual attraction all around they decided to end the evening in bed as a threesome, but it was clear that in any future relationship between them Rodrigo would be very much the junior partner.
This book had few highs and more so so moments because from the beginnning Ian’s partner should have been obvious to Rodrigo, who is very smart. It shouldn’t have been that difficult for Rodrigo to identify him much sooner in the story. Instead the author kept his character in a bubble and made it appear when they eventually met, that he was not intelligent enough to figure out something so obvious, with all the clues thrown out by Ian. When the three men eventually got together in bed Rodrigo was an add-on to an established partnership and it was difficult to imagine his importance to the others progressing beyond that point. The characterizations and relationship might have been more believable if Ian and Rodrigo had meet Ian’s partner at the same time, but there was a hierarchy and Rodrigo was not the highest on that pole. Although Ian’s and Rodrigo’s relationship was the more prominent throughout the story, given that this was a BDSM scene neither one would be top dog, but they probably wanted it that way since they were both submissive types.
This didn’t work for me, but the story was well written in terms of the prose and dialogue and you might find it more enjoyable than I did. If you’re looking for a fun book with charming protagonists, but with no expectations of an HEA for Rodrigo who at best might have an HFN, An Academic Dilemma might brighten up a dull afternoon but it probably won’t be a book that you will re-read.
This story was originally published in the Dreamspinner Press anthology Size Matters.