I’m a total sucker for the Payne/Tortuga “East meets West with a side of kink” books, and I knew I’d be reading this one even before I found out it was set in the same world as their The Cowboy and The Dom series. One of the things that most impresses me about this author pairing is how the relationships they create can contain the same components but always evoke a completely different interaction vibe while still retaining the same lovely, cozy feeling I always get from these stories.
The highlights of this book are how Winter helps the younger Harley explore his true self. Harley had already made a pretty good start on his own, which is how he ended up in New York City in the first place, but he could never have imagined the possibilities introduced to him by his new friends beyond that. Conversely, Winter is already mostly set in his ways. He’s a fairly mysterious character, and even getting to know him as his relationship with Harley evolves, I wish I’d been able to learn more about his past and how he got “here” in the first place. His attitudes are also the point of conflict that ends up developing between the two men since Winter is sometimes oblivious to how Harley isn’t like all the romantic encounters he’s had before. Luckily, Harley embraces his uniqueness in a way that sets both men back on the path to their happily ever after.
The promised cameos from Thomas and Sam (the aforementioned Dom and cowboy) are as lovely as I could have wanted, especially since the authors slip some details about how their lives have evolved in a way that won’t leave new readers confused. How Sam takes Harley under his wing and gives him the information he needs rather than the information he wants was a great touch in how it added to the intricacy of the relationship developing between the two heroes of this story. And even though Winter and Harley met at a kink club where Winter is a member, I thoroughly enjoyed the subtle power exchange that threads through their interactions. This is different from the low-key power exchange of other “kink lite” books I’ve read, and another impressive facet of what keeps drawing me to offerings by these co-writers.
This novel isn’t officially tied to a series as far as I can tell, but I hope to see much more set in this amazing world. Especially since the club itself finally has a name!