Book Review: Les’s Bar Series by Jodi Payne & B.A. Tortuga

This post includes reviews of the books in the Les’s Bar series:

  • Just Dex (#1)
  • Hide Bound (#2)

Just Dex (Les’s Bar #1)

Original review posted to Goodreads only, July 2021:

There’s a certain amount of “insta-love” between the characters in this book. However, not all is smooth sailing once they get together in New York City, because the D/s dynamic is integral to Cyrus’s needs. Luckily, Dex is willing to give his all to achieve that level to their relationship. He might be a “natural submissive” (whatever that means to the authors and the characters), but he faces a steep learning curve now that his life looks completely different to how he existed in Texas.

I do wish that Dex’s relationship with his deceased best friend (who, in a way, brings Dex and Cyrus together) was explored further, especially as it related to the dynamic that develops between him and Cyrus.

The vivid secondary characters helped bring this book to life, especially since no protagonists live in a vacuum. I look forward to reading further books in this series, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for cameos by a certain other cowboy/Dom pairing.

Supplement, January 2022:

Coming back to books by certain authors, especially this pairing, is like wrapping yourself in the lives of old friends. I have no idea whether it’s due to a greater appreciation upon my second reading or being in a different mental space 6 months later, but I enjoyed this book so much more this time around. My comments above still stand, but I’ve increased the rating from 4 to 5 stars.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.


Hide Bound (Les’s Bar #2)

There were so many opportunities for the authors to explore in further directions in this book, and that’s only phrased as a complaint because I wanted so much more from it. On the other hand, it is exactly as long as necessary to tell the story it needed to, of how Peter and Brandon meet, form a connection, and then develop a sweetly kinky relationship that looks to stand the test of time. The focus is very much on the here and now rather than dredging up the past, especially since it never appears like that past will have any immediate bearing on the character’s present (only this reader’s curiosity).

Every D/s relationship (in fiction and real life) is different, and the way Peter and Brandon connect is no exception. I enjoyed how Peter’s interest in body modification is used as a way to bring them closer instead of as a point of conflict over control.

As usual in Payne/Tortuga offerings, we also get a glimpse of intriguing secondary characters. We know Cyrus quite well, but I’m already curious how Peter’s former roommate and a certain doctor and detective might show up in the future. The secondary storyline involving said roommate acts as the perfect through-line to justify the speed at which Peter and Brandon’s relationship evolves and even enhances aspects of their connection Peter might have handled differently before his current relationship.

As usual, another story not to be missed if you’re a fan of the power exchange relationship stories by this particular author pairing. This novel can be read as a stand-alone if you haven’t yet read the first in this series. But honestly, you should just read both no matter the order.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Published by J.L. Gribble

Author, Editor, Worldbuilder

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