Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I first discovered Truman, Hugh, and Will in a short story that was part of the Lead Me Into Darkness anthology. IMMEDIATE INTEREST. Like, in the first few sentences. A kinky, poly relationship? Husbands and their boyfriend? Where has this book been all my life?
The novel can be neatly divided into two parts: Hugh and Will, and Hugh and Truman (and Will).
Will is a straight boy who craves domination. And I mean craves it with every fiber of his being, needs his fantasies of being used and abused to get through sex with his completely vanilla girlfriends. Then he meets Hugh, who agrees to give him exactly what he needs: domination, pain, and control… but no sex.
“Mindfucking the straight boy. It’s a game I’ve invented. I’m winning, by the way.
“I really, really hate you.”
“Do keep it in your pants.”
I’m going to say it: this is the most realistic relationship that I’ve read in a long time! It’s not a romance, in my opinion, but it is absolutely a relationship. The pacing is fantastic, the reactions are authentic. No one falls into bed immediately, and Will’s hesitation, his thought process, and his fears are carefully documented and worked through.
And OH THE KINK! Perfectly written kink scenes that really resonated with me! The feeling of being tied up, the feel of a flogger, the different types of pain (for example, thud vs. sharp, which so many BDSM authors seem to ignore). Most of the time it’s not about sex (which resonates with me even more, as someone who enjoys BDSM without a sexual component), which makes the emotions even stronger.
In the second half of the novel, Will has moved several hours away and Hugh meets Truman, a fellow therapist who is perfect for him in ever way… except he’s vanilla.
I’m dropping this rating down half a point because I didn’t get the same commitment to detail with Hugh and Truman’s romance as I did with Hugh and Will’s relationship. There wasn’t as much detail showing how they meet, the emotions that lead to love. Hugh is in love with Truman on their second date. BAM, done, love.
And Truman laughed, again, flaring the warmth in Hugh’s gut to epic, shocking levels.
Love. This is– love.
But it’s only two dates!
Now, Kris does show the many ways that they’re compatible in the rest of the novel, but the “love at first sight” moment really irked me. It felt abrupt after the slow-build relationship with Will. But I do love Truman, and I think he and Hugh are perfect for each other!
This does eventually turn into a ménage/poly relationship. Will is still Not Gay (although, really, he’s Not Straight either. I’d say he’s kink oriented, regardless of gender), and Hugh and Truman do not have a closed relationship. This is my favorite part of the novel; not the kinky threesome sex, but the emotions that come out of Will’s guilt and reluctance to get between Hugh and Truman, and the desire of all three men to find an arrangement that suits them.
Unbelievable. Brilliant. A completely new take on relationships and romance for me, and a fantastic look at sexual vs. romantic attraction, as well as non-monogamous relationships.
HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I’m going to read the rest of this series immediately.
Kris’ website: http://krisripper.com/
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