Safe and Sound (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)

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Title: Safe and Sound
Author: Caitlin Ricci
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 18, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 99 pages
Reviewed by: NeRdyWYRM
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5


Twenty-one-year-old Mason has to get out of his mother’s house, where her boyfriend subjects him to unwanted advances—and won’t take no for an answer. Since she didn’t believe Mason when he told her about his uncle’s sexual abuse, Mason knows he’s on his own, and it’s up to him to raise the money he needs. He thinks he’s in luck when he takes a modeling job.

Oliver is a photographer, and getting guys and sex has always been easy for him. His current open relationship is no exception: more friendship and fun than anything. But when Oliver meets Mason, he can see the younger man is fragile and desperately in need of help. Before anything can develop between them, Mason needs to free himself of his terrible living situation and start on the road to healing. Oliver wants to stand beside him as he does. What surprises him is the discovery that he might need Mason as much as Mason needs him.

Ummmm …

So this is going to come out sounding all kinds of wrong, but … seriously? I’m not really sure what the plot for this book was supposed to be. It’s like it started out one way, got halfway there, fizzled, changed direction and went absolutely nowhere.

road to nowhere

I don’t want it to sound like I’m trying to invalidate what victims of abuse feel. I know better than that, and I know the degree and level of abuse don’t make any difference to how a person is ‘supposed’ to react. There is no ‘supposed’ to. But let’s face it, whatshisname was sexually abused as a child by his uncle and his mother responded like an idiot. This is not a unique circumstance. The fact that there was abuse was horrifying in and of itself, but the severity of the abuse was not as bad as it could have been. Frankly, the lack of belief and support seemed to be the most damaging thing about that whole scenario for Mason because it kept him from responding appropriately as an adult.

I want to make this clear: I am not trying to say the victim in this story over- or underreacted to anything. What I am trying to say is that when he was faced with a similar scenario with his mother’s boyfriend as an adult, his character’s response was not believable. We were told nothing that made it credible for him to be cowed and passive about a similar situation as an adult.

I mean WTF? Throw a punch? Get a social life? Hide out at the mall or something? Stop ‘hanging out’ and watching TV with the pervy boyfriend? So what if said boyfriend whines to your mama that you’re not spending time with him? I mean seriously, you’re an adult now and no longer helpless, WTF? Unless you count the painfully slow escape plan, we didn’t see Mason taking any action at all beyond peacekeeping with the abuser.

wtf face steve harvey

And let’s face it, yes, the advances were unwanted. That’s sexual harassment, and GROSS when it’s your mom’s boyfriend, but they were both ADULTS! It’s like the author was trying to make the boyfriend out to be some pedophile when that just wasn’t the case. Wrong? Yes. Skeevy? Sure. Fucked in the head disgusting? Absolutely. But not criminal.

Let’s just assume for argument’s sake that Mason was naturally submissive, I still had a hard time buying the whole scenario. Being submissive doesn’t translate to being a doormat and that’s kind of what we got here since the boyfriend himself was pretty pathetic and hardly intimidating. Manipulative yes, but scary? Not so much. Even Mason wasn’t bothered by much about the boyfriend except for the pervy part. For certain he didn’t appear to be physically intimidated, sooo … help me out here!

It pissed me the fuck off because those kinds of assumptions being perpetuated for the masses can be dangerous. Whether you look at it from a misinformation standpoint or a beliefs and values standpoint, stereotypes like that (submissive = doormat) are tangentially dangerous in real life. And don’t get me started on the dirty photographer with the inappropriate hard-ons. I mean, maybe that’s how the industry is, I don’t know, and I’m not saying a sexual response to near-jailbait in a half-naked scenario isn’t worth responding to when you’re performing in a professional capacity … OH WAIT! YES I AM!


Doctors look at naked bodies constantly, and granted some of those circumstances are likely pretty gross, but what I’m getting at is that there is a level of professionalism that’s expected and people who see half-naked (or completely naked) bodies in their lines of work every day somehow manage, almost universally, to separate their libidos from their jobs, unless they’re creepily inappropriate pervs! I mean, I’ve never had a nurse or doctor or anyone of any gender working in any professional capacity that required them seeing me naked behave or react inappropriately in any way ever. And just to be clear, I’m not exactly chopped liver. So, see my point?

And theeeen, the boyfriend situation is resolved, there’s closure on the childhood abuse with the uncle, and we’re told Mason and the icky photographer, Oliver, are getting closer but … nothing. I don’t know what I wanted or expected from this title, but I ended up getting stuck on pissed off and couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I even waited to put this review together thinking some distance would lend perspective, but no. The so-called plot wasn’t successful for me. There was so much unresolved that I am actually afraid the author means to continue this farce with another book. A-fraid!

kevin hart ok nm I hate you

There was a lot of potential for successful hurt/comfort and showing Mason how healthy sexual relationships should be, maybe even an HFN. But I didn’t get any of that. I didn’t feel the relationship-building, the characters were two-dimensional and pretty awful regardless, I didn’t see much personal growth from Mason (though there was some on Oliver’s side) and the story went nowhere. I hate to be Debbie Downer, but this one just … yeah. I’ve run out of words.

This review cross-posted at Goodreads.
Other reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be read here.

Images (when present) may be subject to copyright.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of BOOK NAME provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


I am a life-long reader and an avid learner. I remember reading books without pictures when I was about four, and raided every title on my parents’ full and intimidating book shelves—well, the ones they would let me read, anyway—from then on. Characters written by authors like Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and Anne McCaffrey were my childhood playmates.

Back then, I went nowhere unless I had a book in my hand. While the rest of my generation was shifting from cassettes to CDs and from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation, I spent my allowance on Myth & Magic pewter figurines and on books at the Stars and Stripes bookstore. These days I don’t have a book in my hand anymore, at least not the printed variety. Instead, it’s any device with a Kindle app.

I stubbornly held on to the printed page until a military move weighed my book collection in at over a ton. Oops. Sorry-not-sorry, but I did have to exercise some pragmatism in that area, unfortunately. Now I only buy hardbacks from my favorite authors, the classics, or long-running series. Otherwise, I’ve surrendered to the times and our weight allowance and have gone all digital.

I stay strictly on the fiction side of the fence because non-fiction is generally too dry to hold my interest. I was always a scholar, and so have read enough textbook-like titles and required reading for school and college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So, non-fiction? No, thanks. However, barring non-fiction and biographies (ewww people), there’s not much out there I won’t read.

I have loved romance novels since I was prepubescent. Something about historicals and anything with horses, i.e., Native American inspired romances just did it for me. My grandmother was appalled that my parents let me read that ‘smut’ as she called it. I’d already justified my position on being allowed to read those controversial titles with a logical argument that there were a lot of historical facts in those books that couldn’t be learned in the classroom alone. And to this day, I maintain that stance. I have learned more from books, specifically romance and fantasy novels, than I ever did in a classroom.


My dad always said I was too smart for my own good. Looking back, he was probably right! I could logically talk my way into and out of just about anything. It’s served me well, but caused me no end of problems, too. That said, despite my love for the romance genre in general and the m/m romance genre in particular, there is little chance that a decent book of any kind will fail to catch my interest, and there’s nothing at all I’m unwilling to learn. So bring it on. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

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