Title: Cleave (Cutting Cords #3)
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com Cleave (Cutting Cords Series)
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance, BDSM
Length: Novel (230 pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: The fabulous conclusion to a captivating, intense, and unforgettable series. Cleave is a poignant portrayal of how established relationships must change and new relationships must be forged to accommodate personal growth.
Blurb: On New Year’s Eve, Cole Fujiwara stands vigil at his father’s deathbed while his surrogate wife, Noriko, gives birth to twins. As Cole contemplates his future, he acknowledges that he’s living his father’s dream… and that he’s probably destroyed his chance at happiness with Sloan, the love of his life.
Finding harmony in an emerging D/s relationship has not been without issue for Sloan Driscoll and his Master, Trent Hamilton. Their journey has been littered with mishaps, but their powerful love and sexual connection continue to bind them together—until Sloan comes face to face with Cole for the first time in nine months.
The meeting means different things to each of them. To Cole, it’s the first step on the path to a reunion. To Sloan, it’s a terrible mistake, one he confesses immediately. As for Trent, the bitter realization that a connection between the former lovers still exists forces him to issue an ultimatum. Is Sloan willing to do anything to prove their relationship is worth saving, including becoming Trent’s 24/7 slave? And if Sloan stays with Trent, how can Cole ever hope to find happiness again?
Cutting Cords Series
Cleave is the third book in the Cutting Cords series. The previous books explored the long-term relationship between Cole and Sloan. When they met they were both deeply troubled men. Sloan was dealing with low self-esteem and fighting the urge to cut himself and Cole was coming to terms with going blind. Their story has been a mixture of happiness and heartbreak. They broke up when Cole decided it was time for him to have children without bothering to consult Sloan first. Sloan was reluctant to have children but willing to take that step if that was what Cole needed. The final straw for him was when Cole decided, for legal reasons, to marry the woman his father had chosen to bear the children. Sloan refused to accept that part of the arrangement and the two men separated.
This book begins with Cole’s wife giving birth to their sons in one hospital room while his father is on his deathbed in another. Cole finally realizes he has made the worst decision of his life by discarding Sloan in favor of granting his father’s dying wish of having grandsons. Throughout their relationship Cole was arrogant, selfish and delusional so I was thrilled to finally see him realize that all of Sloan’s predictions have come true. Cole’s quick decline into severe depression forces them to come together and deal with their unresolved feelings. Of course, in normal Cole fashion, he has to go about repairing the damaged relationship with Sloan by emotionally torturing him even more.
Sloan is in a new relationship with Trent. Trent believes Sloan is a natural submissive and wants to be his master. I liked Trent and loved how he gave Sloan the comfort he needed but hated seeing how harsh he could also be. I realize they’re both consenting adults but it was still grueling for me to read some of the things they were doing. I genuinely care about Sloan so reading about their knife play and the slave punishments handed out over contact with Cole made me very uncomfortable, bordering on nauseous, at times. After seeing Sloan struggle with cutting in the past I had difficulty understanding knife play as being healing and helpful for him. Their relationship was very difficult for me and I was never able to fully embrace it.
Even though there were parts of this book which were uncomfortable and disturbing for me, I still loved the series as a whole. It follows Sloans journey from a disturbed young man all the way to a confident, successful and, most importantly, happy man. His relationship with Cole was heartbreaking at the end but it was realistic and helped both of them to eventually find happiness even if it wasn’t with each other. It’s an intense story that was uplifting even if it enraged me at times. It’s amazingly well written and just so damn good! I loved it and would recommend it to anyone who can appreciate a deeper, darker, more gritty romance.