Read my review of the first book in the Desires: New Beginnings series, What He Learns.
The combination of experienced Dominant and new or less experienced submissive is such a common trope in kink romance that it takes a lot to make something new out of the storyline. However, whether you are a reader who loves that particular trope, or one who shies away from it because it can devolve into cliché, I promise that Denning does more than put her own spin on it here. On the surface, Quentin and Toby’s romance arc is fairly predictable, but it’s the characters themselves who make this book shine.
The adorable mutual pining between these men had me cheering for every bit they drew closer, even when it was tempered by a dark moment in Toby’s life. Both men have reason to fear growing closer to someone new, and the pleasure derived from them taking that leap was only second to how Denning crafts characters that intentionally break the overall trope. I appreciated that Toby’s inexperience with kink is tempered by the certain knowledge of what he desires in a relationship, rather than the usual sub learning about and then jumping into the unknown. Similarly, Quentin’s strength is derived from how he thoughtfully navigates his doubts rather than his surety in his dominance.
The kink in this book is an overt element of the power exchange dynamic that develops between Toby and Quentin, but after reading it, I did find the advertised pet play element to be a bit of a misnomer. That being said, there is no one right way to do any sort of play or kink, so that’s more of an observation than a judgment on my part. Toby and his kitten ears are more of a method of self-expression without barriers that allow him to grow closer to Quentin rather than as a separate form of play. Speaking of play, my only honest criticism of this book is that the truly spicy bits seemed a bit too perfect to be realistic. But then again, perfect sex is just as much a form of escapism as reading romance is, so while it might be a criticism, I don’t count it against the story as a whole.
This book is another solid installment set in a world that I’m quite fond of, featuring plenty of cameos from previous heroes. I already look forward to the next happily ever after.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.