Read my reviews of the previous books in the Les’s Bar series:

Just Dex (#1) | Hide Bound (#2)

Many books by this author pair fall into the “comfort read” category for me, especially because of the fascinating intersection of city versus cowboy, power exchange, and surprising external story elements. While always coming from unique characters, the narrative voices also evoke a comfortingly familiar feel as well. This book has the benefit of all of that, but with the addition of a brand-new accent/voice from a new Southern corner. Alain is a delightful treat atop an already wonderful story.

This story can mostly be read as a stand-alone, but we meet all three heroes in the previous installment of this series, which features the inciting incident to Alain’s current recovery. This book centers on Alain only in how caring for him helps prompt the reunion between Isaac and Neil that has been a long time coming. Payne and Tortuga delicately balance strong emotions in each of these storylines without crossing the line into unnecessary angst as these three characters perform a delicate dance of settling into various power exchange dynamics while simultaneously establishing (and re-establishing) romantic relationships.

For these three characters, power exchange is a work that soothes a need, but it is certainly not always easy. This is not a story about Isaac and Neil bringing Alain into their relationship. Instead, the three characters are building a new, stronger relationship on the framework of an older one that never quite worked. The 6 months Neil and Isaac spent apart could have caused more of a hiccup somewhere, but in a story with so many already fraught topics, including a dramatic external plot, since characters do not live in a vacuum, I didn’t mind that the separation doesn’t cause as much overt conflict.

Speaking of vacuums, multiple external familiar faces provide good connections and trusted friendships to the three heroes of this story. I love how this community steps up to take care of each other, and I look forward to more from this world.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) stars
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