This post includes reviews of books in the Destination Daddies series:
- Reel Love by Kate Hawthorne
- All Tied Up by Reese Morrison
- Living in Zin by G.R. Lyons
- Sink or Swim by Chloe Gray
- Jam Packed by R.J. Moray
- Greeking Out by Colette Davison
- Tourist Attraction by Luna David & Honey London
- All the Queen’s Men by Chara Croft & Harlow Hayes
- S’more to Love by Lila Wilde & Andi James
- All Dolled Up by Chara Croft
- A Little Bit Naughty by Reese Morrison
Reel Love by Kate Hawthorne
This first book in this new multi-author series is by one of my favorite romance writers, so I was excited to dig in! Daddy kink isn’t what first comes to mind after my previous experience with Hawthorne’s work, so I knew she would be putting her usual unique spin on things. I was not disappointed by this friends-to-lovers romance in which Clint is the ultimate Daddy – which, of course, means he’s clueless about everything that involves.
He does know that he cares about his bestie Archer maybe a little bit too much for simple friendship, and the drunken reveal about what Archer looks for in a romantic partner sets Clint into a tailspin. An unfortunate but innocently chosen username on a hookup app gives him a crash course in kink. Unwilling to let Archer slip away, Clint follows Archer to a local event, determined to win his friend over and try to be what the other man needs. The way they finally come together is at turns sexy and awkward, but always fun. If only they can get over some hang-ups about what they think they should need and embrace being exactly what they want, their happily ever after is sure to be wonderful.
My favorite “idiots in love” trope is in full swing for this short, delightful book. This story is the perfect introduction to the concept of Daddy kink (without age play), featuring the brattiest brat (who knows it) and the Daddiest Daddy (who doesn’t). Fans of Hawthorne’s writing shouldn’t miss out, and I hope new readers are encouraged to check out her other work. I look forward to experiencing the rest of this fun series after that great introduction.
All Tied Up by Reese Morrison
I’m pretty particular about the books I read with the Daddy trope, but what attracted me most to this title is how the author flipped the Daddy/boy dynamic by age and economic bracket. Neil is an older boy with an established corporate position falling for a younger couple with a struggling small business. Sebastian is exactly the sort of Daddy who Neil has dreamed of having, but Jamie is used to other boys putting up with him while he shares his Daddy’s attention. However, Neil might be naturally shy, but he’s never embarrassed to express how much he adores Jamie in his own right. What follows for all three men is a week out of a dream until the real world forces them to wake up.
Everything up to that moment is a delicious, sexy story with plenty of swoon-worthy moments. But that breakpoint is where this book truly starts to shine. The way they feel about Neil had brought up plenty of memories from when Sebastian and Jamie were burned by a past relationship, so they are understandably concerned about repeating mistakes. Neil is in a position to help save the couple’s dream, but he struggles with knowing whether the interest from them was genuine or an extended scene for a weekend fling.
Luckily, this is a romance novel, so everyone gets their happily ever after. Morrison balances appropriate levels of angst throughout the book with hot encounters between the three men. Through her use of character, Morrison shines an excellent light on how the Daddy/boy construct is more about the lifestyle the individual chooses to embrace rather than a right or wrong way to love someone.
Living in Zin by G.R. Lyons
This felt a bit like a kitchen sink book, in which the author had a million ideas to include in this book and therefore did so (plus the kitchen sink). On the one hand, all of these concepts and characters merged into a lovely, dynamic story with a delightfully nontraditional happily ever after. On the other, Lyons could have also taken a handful of the concepts they played with here and created an equally compelling and intimate love story.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I’m averse to anything Lyons included. I particularly appreciated the representation of a character on the autism spectrum, especially since Ryder’s autism and transgender status had nothing to do with the other but were equally important components of his identity. I thoroughly enjoyed the separate and distinct ways that he connected with Mav, Beau, and Dakota. However, I don’t necessarily agree that those three particular characters would never have found their happiness together without Ryder.
Lyons also created a fascinating, intricate history between Mav, Beau, and Dakota that is revealed slowly throughout the book. The interplay between them is always entertaining, especially considering the reader knows or can predict some secrets, but not quite all of them. The conclusion is lovely and heartwarming, though the dark moment is equally wrenching for everyone when they are in the midst of it.
Even though I have some criticisms about this book, I’d still love a sneak peek into the future lives of these characters to see how they are enjoying their happily ever.
Sink or Swim by Chloe Gray
This sweet novella only suffered in that it was way too short and only slightly too sweet. I understand not getting all the online-only backstory between Andy and Joel, but their “on-screen” meeting felt incredibly rushed without that context to ease the reader into their communication style so that the story doesn’t come off as insta-love. I also thought that the relationship between Andy and his sister (and his sister’s partners) gets short shrift because of the obvious care between them. On the other hand, one aspect of this book that I particularly enjoyed is how Gray weaves in an underlying external conflict rather than forcing some sort of “dark moment” between Andy and Joel.
Though this entire novella reads more like a setup for Gray’s individual world, I still enjoyed this short escape to Hawaii featuring an adorable Little and his nontraditional Daddy. I’d be more than happy to return to this particular resort and spend more time with them and their extended family.
Jam Packed by R.J. Moray
Moray features the best aspects of an age-gap romance in this sweet, sexy novel that brings Sammy and Axel together. Axel’s history and life experience drive him to put barriers between what his heart feels for Sammy. At the same time, that history and life experience can’t let him stay away. Even as both men indulge in a fantasy of what an actual relationship might bring them, neither can ultimately resist the possibility of that fantasy becoming a reality. Along the way, unfortunately, it is Sammy’s life that tries to interfere.
In my desire to avoid spoilers, the above makes this book sound way more angsty than it is. In truth, Sammy is adorable, Axel is the quintessential sexy leather Daddy, and they are perfect for each other in more ways than one. I found myself especially interested in Axel’s current life and his friendship with the owners of the B&B who host the event Sammy attends. The more external conflict of this book involves Sammy’s jam-making business and supposed business partner, but even that was less painful than I expected.
I was already a fan of Moray’s work, but the kink of this book is significantly softer than what I’ve previously read by this author. However, this story is definitely a good introduction to Moray’s writing and storytelling style, and overall an excellent installment of this shared world romance series.
Greeking Out by Colette Davison
Reading stories by Colette Davison is like taking a relaxing bath. Everything is warm and soothing and cozy, and there might be a small jarring moment in the end when you get out, but then you get to wrap yourself in a fuzzy towel, and everything is all right again. I don’t take baths that often, just like I don’t always appreciate low-angst books because usually, that means lack of conflict. However, Davison tends to infuse her stories with a sense of balance – it’s not that there’s no conflict, but that the conflict is stretched across the entire book so that the arc is not as obvious but very much there.
This is especially evident in her submission to the Destination Daddies series. If this were a longer work that included more on-screen time with Troy’s past and the conversations between him and Apollo as their relationship develops, the events on Crete would be the dramatic ending to the book. But as the book itself, the focus shifts to a targeted happily ever after. Both men are taking a final leap, but it happens to be at the beginning of the book. What follows is incredibly romantic, turns sweet and sexy, and overall makes for a lovely, low-angst read.
Greeking Out is a must-read installment of this shared-world series. It left me with a giant smile and plenty of warm fuzzies, and I didn’t even need to leave my couch for a bath to accomplish it.
Tourist Attraction by Luna David & Honey London
This book should have been an easy 5 stars. I love that the accidental dynamic between Gavin and Ollie starts even before they leave the airport for the vacation that they don’t realize that they are taking together. There’s just enough low-key angst afterward as Gavin realizes his attraction to Ollie is a heartbreak in the making. When the characters finally cave in to the inevitable, we’re treated to the perfect amount of sexy and romantic before the inevitable dark moment.
However, what I most loved about this book was the character development as a result of that dark moment. Too often, I find that the “Daddy” character is set up as this perfect happy ending once the boy half of the equation makes some emotional leap or growth. In this case, I love that the fight is all on the side of Daddy Gavin, as he finally acknowledges what’s important in his life.
So, why the lower rating? Unfortunately, I think the authors leaned a bit too far into the “adorable boy” trope, weighing Ollie down with enough quirks that he felt completely unrealistic. The romance swept me along enough that I was able to roll my eyes through most of it, and the obvious chemistry between Gavin and Ollie made up for the rest.
All the Queen’s Men by Chara Croft & Harlow Hayes
This book does a deep dive into the minds of three very different men over less than three days. At first glance, it feels like it will be Isaac and Roman’s story, as Jules brings them together during a weekend getaway and facilitates their romance. However, all of this backfires on Jules when he’s the one who experiences the most character development and ends up inextricably wound into the burgeoning relationship between his best friend and the Daddy that Jules has procured for him. Because it turns out that Jules and Isaac might be a bit more than best friends and that Jules might need a Daddy himself.
Isaac and Roman trend a bit too far in the direction of character tropes rather than individuals. A few differences, such as Roman’s current living situation, break them out of stereotype but not terribly far. On the other hand, it’s drag queen Jules who could have so easily been a two-dimensional character but quickly becomes the hero this story needs, even though he spends most of the story protesting otherwise.
This book was a fun, sexy read with a solid “happily for now” resolution. It acts as the perfect setup for a longer-form romantic arc as the three characters work toward their happily ever after. Croft and Hayes deliver an excellent “slice out of time” romance, but it left me yearning for more pages with these wonderful characters.
S’more to Love by Lila Wilde & Andi James
I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, except that snark and dad jokes are my humor kryptonite. As a combination, Hudson and Rory were pretty much lethal, with a bonus helping of adorable. Often, the boys in Daddy kink books are a little too dramatically perfect. In that context, Rory is a breath of fresh air, especially since the authors set up his best friend Bell as the perfect contrast. The bit of internal conflict this creates elevates Rory from the typical boy to a more well-rounded character. They do the same for Hudson, who experiences his share of doubts regarding his approach to the Daddy role. Creating more interesting characters always makes for a more interesting story.
I also have a bit of a soft spot for glamping because even though I’ve never had the pleasure, my little sister works at a relatively similar site as Second Wynd in the book. Rather than incorporating this setting to take advantage of a niche concept, I appreciated how it equalized the discomfort levels of both Rory and Hudson from different directions. It also helps both characters to step outside of their typical boundaries and grow closer along the way. There’s no insta-love to be found in this book; instead, it’s two men who share a surprising attraction and only fight it a little bit, and in a way that makes the story that much more of a treat for the reader.
Overall, this is not your typical Daddy kink book. However, the dynamic between the men would not necessarily have been complete without it, and I found myself loving every bit of it.
All Dolled Up by Chara Croft
Even though I’ve been enjoying the light romances in this series, I put off reading this next book because I did that thing you’re not supposed to do – I made assumptions. Overall, I’ve come to learn that my reading tastes trend toward the “Daddy” power dynamic only when it’s more of a Daddy Dom role rather than more of a literal Daddy, and the concept of Littles isn’t really my thing. Rene also doesn’t know whether being a Little is his thing, but it seems like the best way to get a Daddy (which is definitely his thing), so he goes on his first vacation ever to find out.
Cue Edward, who is that Hallmark romance sort of hero who is a workaholic with a tragic backstory. To his credit, he does his best by Rene when he realizes that he’s the cause of a problem, even if the overall scenario is the sort of sketchy that doesn’t really work outside of a romance novel. The way the two men bond is also rather fast (outside of a romance novel), but Croft sets up the perfect storm of personal details that make Edward and Rene easily fit together.
And that’s when things get interesting because once the sexy bit of this book kicks in, the reveal that Rene is not a Little is a delightful surprise. I think these characters already had a potential future, but the way Edward and Rene’s personal kinks mesh is that perfect combination of sweet and steamy. Croft surprised me with this book, which shows that I should stop pre-judging books based on assumptions, especially when kink is involved.
A Little Bit Naughty by Reese Morrison
We’re back to the Meadowlark Lodge featured in All Tied Up for Morrison’s second offering in this sweet series. This book works completely as a stand-alone, but based on the glimpses I caught of Isaac and Remi in that earlier book, I knew I was interested in their happily ever after. I’ve mentioned in other reviews that age play isn’t my top reading interest. Still, I thoroughly enjoy this author and how they bring to life authentic characters not regularly featured in fiction. In this case, Isaac’s portrayal as Jewish and transgender interested me from the author’s note at the beginning of the book.
The Destination Daddies series ends with a bang on this book. It’s not an easy read, but I love that this has little do with the aforementioned aspects of Isaac’s identity. Remi and Isaac just never planned for each other, and the “ending” halfway through the book when the weekend is over was as heart-wrenching for me as it was for the characters. What follows is a solid story about a relationship that develops naturally over distance after that first hit of immediate bliss.
The age play is cute, but while it’s an integral part of Isaac’s identity and the relationship between him and Remi, it’s merely an aspect of the book and not the full plot. I read stories more for the emotional impact and dynamics between the characters, rather than the kinks that (to me) are basically window dressing to how the heroes relate to each other. And at this point, I’ll read pretty much anything by Morrison.
Overall, the Destination Daddies story does indeed have something for pretty much all readers. I had a lot of fun traveling the country and world with these authors.