This book is the first I’ve read by either of these authors, and I immediately spent the next few days reading more of their work after finishing this one. I already knew going into this title that I enjoy romance that includes power dynamics and age gaps—the fact that this particular story is a “reverse” age gap was the initial appeal. I immediately fell a little in love with both Saul and Troy. In these two men and each of the secondary characters we meet along the way, Payne and Tortuga have created dynamic, fully fleshed characters who stand pretty strong on their own but are worth even more of the sum of their parts once they’re together.
The initial attraction between Saul and Troy slips into a lovely slow-burn romance that intertwines adorable “vanilla” dating with incorporating kinkier elements meant to enhance their relationship. The difference in their ages is regularly addressed but exists as more of a conflict than an actual barrier to their dynamic. Saul struggles with his lack of experience compared to the other members of Troy’s solidly established found family. In contrast, Troy has always existed slightly on the edge of this found family, indulging his needs outside the constraints of a “traditional” D/s relationship. Combined with Troy’s personal history, this status means that he and Saul end up discovering what works best for them together rather than one necessarily leading the other in either direction.
Their connection grows stronger on the heels of a health scare that might be the “dark moment” in a shallower romance. Instead, however, the true drama comes along with Saul and Troy finally understanding the reality of Troy’s connection with the above-mentioned found family and how their romance must support rather than supplant these already established relationships.
This book left me with a strong enough book hangover that I went to Twitter to demand to know that a sequel was in the works (since this book is advertised as the first in a series). Payne and Tortuga put me out of my misery, and I already can’t wait until October to find out what happens next with all of these amazing characters.