Contemporary M/M needs to be very well written if it’s to keep my attention, as it’s probably my least favorite sub-genre. In general I much prefer to be transported to another world when I read, instead of this one. Nor do I actively seek out BDSM books, since it’s not my scene and can occasionally be too hardcore for me. However, I kept hearing how good this book was and it was on sale, so I thought I would give it a try.
I completely understand why this book is up for awards. It blew me away from the very first page. The writing style sucked me in. It was very intimate, drawing me into the feelings of the protagonists and depicting the scenes unfolding around them in vivid detail without getting bogged down by said details to the point where the pacing crawled. I saw and felt everything that happened, unlike in some books where the writing holds the reader at a distance. There were moments when it risked being a little pretentious, but it was night and day from the last book I read, where a bland form of telling sucked the life out of the story.
I related a lot to Toby, who is young and has dreams but is also very lost on his path. I loved that despite his insecurities, age, and small stature, he was a Dom and that came across convincingly instead of being unbelievable. In fact, sometimes it’s most convincing because it is absurd. I love how human both main characters are, that they have flaws both big and small, and that it’s often left to the sub to be the strong one for both of them. This plays out like a real relationship, not a caricature of the D/s lifestyle where the Dom is strong alpha male all the time and the sub weak and needy.
It also made me cry, which was something I never expected. I felt Toby’s hunger for love so intensely and it resonated so strongly that I couldn’t help but shed some tears, especially towards the end. I struggled to put this book down and lost sleep over it.
Yes, this book is not entirely groundbreaking. There are still Big Misunderstandings. There were still some moments where I had to suspend my incredulity (they didn’t share phone numbers, really?). I also found Laurie’s harping on about the age gap to be somewhat tiresome as the book progressed and it was plain to see that Toby was more than mature enough to conduct a relationship, even if he does have personal growth ahead of him.
Still, I loved this book and would definitely read it again. The author has a way with words that definitely speaks to me and I will have to check out his other works.