First and foremost, there are several scenes in this book that make for very uncomfortable reading (and I'm not talking about the puppy play here). The scenes are not exactly written as rape (though there is a strong argument that at least one of said scenes is
rape (Acton spiking Lane's drink IS rape, damn it)) and they are not explicitly or shockingly written, but they were very
uncomfortable to read. There's no warning about it on the blurb (unlike the puppy play), so I wanted to mention it here. If you have experience with rape or sexual assault, and reading about that sort of situation triggers you, you might want to give this book a miss.
With that out of the way...
Wow, just... wow.
I've never read anything by Lisa Henry or J. A. Rock before, though I have a couple of books by them on my Kindle, but this was a hell of a first encounter.
Lane's mother has been arrested for securities fraud, his father is on the run, and everyone suspects Lane knows where the missing millions are. Derek lost money in the scandal, and believes Lane is just as guilty as everyone else thinks he is. When he suspects Lane is in trouble, Derek walks away. But after Lane makes a desperate arrangement with a so-called Dom that leaves him traumatised and hurting, a chance encounter makes him part of Derek's life. Lane might be everything that Derek wants, but first Derek needs to trust that Lane is innocent — and Lane needs to trust Derek with the truth.
This book hurt to read, you know? It wasn't just the uncomfortable scenes with Acton, it was the heartbreaking way that Lane thought of himself as worthless. The way everyone hated him for what his parents had done. How horrible and unlikeable Derek's thoughts were at the beginning. The way he walked away.
And yet... and yet I couldn't stop reading.
Let's talk about the puppy play. There is a good deconstruction of the puppy play here
, for those wanting a more psychological look at it. But you know, it wasn't weird or squicky, though it took me a few moments to get my head around it. It didn't happen all that often, and was a way of Lane getting into a safe space. It felt, I don't know, comfortable
Speaking of puppies, I am SO GLAD they adopted Andy.
That aside, the characters in this book were terrific. They felt like living, breathing entities. This didn't just apply to Lane and Derek, but all of the secondary characters felt like that too. Brin was in a league of his very own, but Ferg, Christy, Acton, Rankin - everyone
- felt multi-layered and as though they could walk off the page. Not to mention Mr Zimmerman the macaw. Seriously, this book is worth the read just for the macaw. (I'm joking, there are a lot of good things going for it aside from that.)
The writing is lovely, too. Not too descriptive or flowery, but easy to read, engaging and interesting. For one thing, you really can't tell that this was written by two people. I wonder how it was written. It must have been an amazing book to write with someone else.
There are a couple of typos - 'walk' instead of 'talk' being the most obvious - but nothing too bad.
I don't want to say much more about this book, because I don't want to ruin the experience of reading it. I'll definitely be reading more by both authors.
Suffice to say, this is one of the best books I've read this year so far.