Series: Bay Area Professionals #1
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Publisher: Dreamspinner – Second Edition
Release Date: April 12, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary, BDSM
Page Count: 191
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
On his way home from vacation, Scott Gregory, a closeted sub, hooks up with the gorgeous Red, a flamboyant Dom, for a thrilling one-off at a BDSM bar. They part ways after a satisfying scene… but meet again when Robin Kennedy—Red—arrives at his new job as a dental hygienist and discovers one of his two bosses is Scott.
Robin and Scott embark on a journey of exploration into their kinkier sides and discover they’re more than compatible—they’re a perfect match. But keeping employer/employee and Dom/sub separate at the office presents difficulties, and to make matters even more complicated, the owner of the dental practice is an acknowledged homophobe.
They fall in love, but Robin chafes at all the secrecy, refusing to live in the shadows. Scott isn’t as brave; he’s desperate to protect his job and his future. Will they be able to find some middle ground… or will their entire relationship fall apart because of fear?
In a word, Impacted! is a fun read – a well-constructed cross between a gay soap opera and a text for “BDSM 101,” a very basic introductory course to that particular sexual sub-set. Though Impacted! claims to be a new and improved re-release of a work first issued in 2009, it remains reflective of that time period. Mickie B. Ashling is a prolific and well-regarded author, so the book’s charm and easy readability still makes a good recommendation. The reader will easily become invested in the anticipated HEA, and how we get there.
The characters, both main and secondary, more than sufficiently engage our attention. While Scott and Robin are somewhat two-dimensional, nonetheless, the reader will care about what happens to them. Their respective backgrounds help explain their present quirks and bents, further providing rationale for the steps in their growing sexual relationship. While Robin is described as an acknowledged Dom, with a sadistic streak, that actually appears to be at odds with his normal, caring personality. A part of Scott, questioning his own public avowed normality, wants to lose himself in the BDSM experiences he had seen searching on-line, longing for that moment when pain coalesced with ecstasy. Are these two men symbiotic? They do seem to feed off each other’s needs.
Happily, their erotic interaction is vividly introduced early enough as to pull us into their story, and then is episodically seeded, with sufficiently physical variation, into the novel’s subsequent narrative flow.
For those familiar with San Francisco around 2009, it is hard to quite see these people and this story as historically reflective. We were all so much more worldly then. But for everyone else, the author has invested some time in providing us with enlightened information about, if not justification of, the world of BDSM. Yet, the mix of workplace homophobia, the temptation to see the closet as a “safe” retreat, and Scott’s embarrassment about being drawn into the strange Dom/sub world – all these seem a little out of time. Not to worry: all this still contributes a successful, if somewhat strained, influence on the “soapy” flow of the plot.