REVIEW: Bonds of denial (Book five of Wicked Play series) by Lynda Aicher
Book five of Wicked Play
It’s been twenty years since Rockford Fielding’s father punished him for kissing another boy. Now a grown man with a military career behind him, Rock continues to deny his true desires, even while working security at The Den, the most decadent sex club in town. But after a year of watching gorgeous Carter Montgomery come and go on the arms of other men, Rock can no longer resist the cravings he’s denied for so long.
Carter has just four months left on his contract with an escort agency, and he doesn’t know whether to feel relieved or afraid. Being an escort is all he knows. Adding to his confusion is the way his latest client, the sexy but stoic Rock, makes him feel things he hasn’t wanted in years.
One charmingly awkward date turns into two and soon the men are meeting off the clock. But with Rock in the closet and Carter unsure how to pursue a real relationship, how can they build a future both in and out of the bedroom?
Dear Lynda Aicher,
One of DA commenters actually recommended your book to me in the comments thread on one of my reviews. I decided to check it out.
I have not read any of your books before this one and right now I have no interest to read any other books in this series. It was not because I did not like your writing in this book – it is just it looks like all other books are about the men and women finding each other and discovering their true desires in the exclusive BDSM sex club. I was so over exclusive BDSM sex clubs as main settings for BDSM themed romances for a while now and I am still not feeling it. However this book does not feature couple who is into BDSM (love it usually as I said, I am just over club scene) so I decided to give it a chance. I do not think that anybody who decides to pick this book up as a stand-alone will be confused . I think the men and women who work/play in this club are all friends and in every story new couple is formed and others pop up for support/ small roles.
Carter is a high paid escort and Rockford (aka Rock) is a retired military veteran who works as a security in the said exclusive club. Rock notices Carter when he comes in the club with a client, finds out all the information on him he can find by legal and not so legal methods. I guess hacking of the guests’ personal information is a prerequisite to being allowed to be a member of the exclusive BDSM clubs, but I digress.
Rock sees Carter, Rocks wants Carter. Of course any more or less long term m/m reader have read a story about a closeted man of whatever profession giving in to their desires and meeting an escort/prostitute and falling in love with them and living happily ever after many times. I have read that story too, but I think it is also very true that good writing makes the tried and true trope shine and I think this is what happened here.
I don’t even know what in the writing appealed to me so much that I was willing just to go with the flow. I do know that I really liked both characters. Rock may be deeply closeted and ashamed of whom he is attracted to, but I appreciated that ashamed as he was, he was also honest with himself and he was not playing any “gay for Carter” card – he just needed help to come to the world. It is hard to explain, but as familiar as Rock’s issues were, he felt different to me from so many characters I have read about before. His angst felt plausible enough and I kind of bought that a man may feel that way? I am usually very sympathetic to closeted characters in m/m stories and often more annoyed when the other guy tries to push him out of the closet before he is ready. But I guess I felt that Rock had already reached rock bottom in keeping his secret and while I admired how he dealt with it (basically he was the only one who suffered), I thought that him meeting and wanting Carter was plausible as the push he needed at that point in life.
The words were there before he could shove them back. I’m gay. They kept cycling through his mind. I’m gay. They wouldn’t go away. I’m gay. They grew stronger with each echo until it was the only thing he could think. Hear.
The first mumbled utterance seemed to grind against his throat, shredding the lining. He sucked in a huge, stuttering gulp of air until his lungs were close to bursting and still it didn’t help. The darkness behind his eyelids was all consuming, the black hole of shame closing around him, destroying him right there. Finally.
“Breathe, Rock.” And there was the touch on his arm. The grounding voice. The confidence that he’d always wanted and only faked. “Say it again.”
He didn’t think. He simply followed the firm order “I’m gay.” His voice was stronger this time, the words more stable.
“One more time”.
Rock came off as a very strong character for me and I really liked his chemistry with Carter. Carter had his own insecurities, which also felt like plausible ones – Carter worked as an escort and he worried that when Rock fully admitted to himself that he was gay he would not need or wanted him anymore, because who would want a whore. Those are Carter’s thoughts, not mine. Carter learning to trust Rock and trust his love was the gist of Carter’s character arc.
I also liked how the temporary separation was done in this story. I thought it made sense based on who the characters were as “people”, and I liked that they tried to work things out soon after they fought. It just made sense to me – when they cooled off, neither really wanted to be done with the other even if the reconciliation was stumbling because one of them was not in the best shape.
There is a lot of sex in this book . I thought that this was definitely an erotic romance, but it was one of the rare occasions when I enjoyed every single minute of it.
I have wondered when I was reading the book whether the writing seduced me that much and just influenced my emotions, or I just really liked the narrative and suspended disbelief as to certain things in the characters backgrounds and thoughts, but does it really matter? Even if I responded to the book partially “against my will”, I really liked it overall and do recommend it.
I did like this book for all of the same reasons you did. The writing was good and I cared about Rock and Carter. But it’s my last m/m male escort book. I am tired of the BDSM club scenario too. In both het and m/m books. Still, this pair draws the reader in.
@P. J. Dean: Thanks so much for recommendation ;). Yes, these two definitely drew me in. I do not think I have read a single m/f BDSM romance – did not realize they were just as popular as in m/m. Oh wait, no, I have read one by Joey Hill.
Do I have this right — although Rock works at a BDSM club, their sex life is NOT BDSM-based? Because I confess, I am very tired of that. (Vanilla really is an excellent flavor, fragrant and complex, and I think is sometimes underappreciated…)
P.S. I will continue my streak of loathing covers by *hating* this one. It looks like body parts for several different people (most of them lumpy) pasted together.
Hapax you are right – their sex life is not BDSM based. You are tired of that? I confess I kind of found it refreshing – usually in my experience if the character works in BDSM club he must be into BDSM. To each their own of course.
Yeah that cover the less said of it the better – I could not find any words :).
Thanks, Sirius. I phrased that badly — I’m tired of the same “must be into BDSM” trope that you are.
(P.S. Every single math problem the spam prevention sets me has involved the numerals 6 and 9. Coincidence? I THINK NOT)
@Sirius: Ah, yes, Ms. Hill. A master of her genre but a difficultly digested one for me. My intro to the BDSM genre was her “Knights of the Boardroom” series. It ended there. I knew I was vanilla after that. I know readers loved that series. But…All I can say is no. Just no.
@hapax: Heh ok we are in agreement then. Although to be fair, I feel like it got better in a sense. Couple years ago I felt like everybody was writing BDSM into their books. I am still not tired from (what I consider) well written BDSM, but does it really have to be in almost every book?
@P. J. Dean: I forgot the name of her m/f book I read. “Ice Queen” maybe? Featuring Marguerite?
Sirius, Lynda has a new series starting next spring that isn’t BDSM so it may appeal to you more, if you liked her writing.
Also, point of interest for hapax and those who hated the cover, the whole series was actually re-branded with new covers! This is actually the old cover. New ones appear on Lynda’s home page: http://lyndaaicher.com/