Title: A Cordial Agreement
Author: Ryan Loveless
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Page Count: 118
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Can a wealthy but frustrated CEO and a guilt-ridden stripper find what they need in a consensual, nonsexual whipping boy arrangement?
Billionaire mogul Grant Jessup, fifty-three, buries his sexual tastes and the reasons behind them—the stresses of his business empire and family. In contrast, Jim Sieber understands the regret that makes him seek pain and penance. As an asexual averse to erotic touch, Jim sets strict boundaries. But as the relationship evolves, Grant struggles to respect them, and both men realize for their association to continue and perhaps grow into real feelings, they’ll have to explore new ways to satisfy each other.
Readers may look to reviewers for guidance – as to genre, style, effectiveness, interest. We can play as the be-all / end-all. And sometimes, the reviewer’s function is to provide warnings of particularly unusual or possibly disturbing aspects of the subject.
Well, I need to admit that A Cordial Agreement left me somewhat stumped.
I’ll start by saying that I really enjoyed the novel: I found it sufficiently engaging as a “light” entertainment and, therefore, I plowed through it quickly. While the blurb isn’t really adequately to the novel, the reader won’t be disappointed.
This is a story about two extremely different men, each with an unusual need. Jessup, the billionaire, needs to exert physical pain to ease the anger and frustration generated by his lack of control over certain aspects of his life. He decides he wants a “whipping boy,” a person on whom he can apply punishment, when doing so on the real object of his anger would be unacceptable. Jim, a much younger man, is averse to any physical sexual interaction – despite his making a living in the “sex” industry. But he is still driven to assuage his personal guilt, seeking absolution through acceptance of pain as a “whipping boy.” What a pair!
Nonetheless, the quirky muse of gay romance has determined that these two are to be a match. Their relationship is designed to meet their respective needs, albeit without any sexual component. Maybe. Each finds inherent eroticism in their BDSM episodes, even if they confine their respective reactions to afterwards – in private. And the reader will also feel the heat, though the book avoids the expected trope of S & M ending in breathless coitus. Incredibly, Ryan Loveless has provided plenty of pseudo heat, while disdaining the “porn” end o the erotic spectrum. Good work.
This unusual story wends toward HFN, with the open possibility of HEA. It is recommended.