From the blurb:
Emerson Robinette only leaves his apartment to get laid and go to work. Having MS—and trying to pretend he doesn’t—makes everything more complicated, especially his fantasies of coming on strong and holding a guy down. Finding a partner who’ll explore that with him isn’t Emerson’s idea of a realistic goal.
Until a chance meeting with a hipster on a bus makes him reconsider. Obie is happy, open-hearted, and warm; what’s more, he gets his kicks being physically dominated, spanked, and teased until he’s begging. It would be perfect, except for one thing: Emerson isn’t made for happiness, and he doesn’t see how a guy like Obie would settle for a cynic like him.
But as far as Obie’s concerned, the only thing keeping them apart is Emerson. Can Emerson handle a boyfriend who’s more invested in his future than he is? Emerson’s barely convinced he has a future. But when Obie’s smiling at him, anything seems possible.
To be honest, I was really nervous about this one.
I'm not a big fan of soap opera-ish books, and I have a HORRIBLE track record with them. Harlequin-style books and books that feature a lot of stereotypical soap opera twists are sort of the opposite of what I like. This series is a total nod to soap operas in terms of titles and branding, so I was really anxious about the content.
Also, this book features a MC with multiple sclerosis, a disease that I know VERY well. My mother's only brother has had MS for my entire life, and I've seen what it can do to a person (more on that later). I've read books with characters with MS where I've not recognized as true to my experiences with the disease. Sure, MS can take on many forms, but a few things are very consistent, and one of my BIGGEST pet peeves is when an author doesn't do their research.
Lastly, I read a few reviews where people didn't love the MC, Emerson, and felt like he was too caustic. I don't love a fully unlikable MC, so I was wary that I wouldn't like Emerson.
But I was SO pleasantly surprised, because I REALLY liked this story.
I want to talk about the MS aspect of the book first because it is featured front and center in the story. My uncle has a progressive type of MS, one of the worst types, and I've seen him go from using a cane to completely wheelchair-bound and almost totally unable to talk. It has been heartbreaking for my family, and my uncle is in constant pain and struggles with depression. Being unable to communicate is a huge issue for him, and his difficulty even using his hands makes him feel isolated and cut off from the world. I have a deep, emotional response to MS, and I was curious about how Kris Ripper would portray Emerson.
I think Kris Ripper really nailed the MS part of the book. I was surprised at how authentic the portrayal of Emerson and his daily trials with MS were, and I really saw truth in his character. There was no magic healing, and sometimes the realities of living with MS were hard for Emerson. I LIKED the complete portrayal of Emerson, not as a saint or martyr, but as a real dude living with a depressing, annoying, frustrating, painful, and COMPLETELY UNFAIR disease.
I also liked Emerson, though he was a major dick to Obie, like, all the time. I still related to him, and I got why he was so grumpy/pissed off. I really liked being inside his head, flaws and all. I liked the light D/s aspects of the story, and the real challenges that MS gave a guy who liked to dominate other guys. I just enjoyed all of Emerson, even when he frustrated me.
The story also wasn't melodramatic, like I had feared. It was well plotted and engaging, and I liked the slow progression of Emerson and Obie's relationship, and the side plot of Emerson's teacher/student dynamics.
I liked the whole cast of secondary characters, which featured a few POC and a range of the queer spectrum. I'm excited to meet some of them more in other books in the series (hopefully), and learn more about what makes them tick.
I was really blown away by this story, to be honest. I connected with it on an emotional level, and it left me wanting to read more by new-to-me author, Kris Ripper.
*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
Catch ya later!