From the blurb:
Avery Hextall, a junior architect at a prestigious firm, is thrilled when his design is chosen for a new performing-arts center—even if it means working closely with his insufferably uptight project manager, Malin Lacroix. When a chance encounter in the boss’s office proves that Lacroix is anything but cold, Avery is determined to learn more about the real man beneath the aloof veneer.
Despite their growing attraction and their increasingly kinky encounters, the enigmatic Malin remains as emotionally distant as ever. Worse, Avery’s friends are convinced Malin thinks of Avery as a dirty secret and nothing more—a secret that might destroy both of their careers.
But the real secret is a single moment in time that haunts Malin and keeps him from committing to the life he wants with Avery. In order to move on, Avery must help Malin come to terms with the tragedy in his past before they can work on building a future together.
Wooooah, this one was a DOOZY! Lots of stuff to cover here, folks.
When I give 3-stars, it's usually because I liked a book but didn't really like it. In this case, the 3-stars is because there were parts that I really liked and parts that I hated, and those balanced each other out.
I didn't know much about this book when I started, to be honest. I don't read blurbs that often or that well, and I just saw Avon Gale's name and I knew that I had to have it. I love Avon Gale's Scoring Chances series (Breakaway), and I really wanted to read more from her.
To start, I had issues with the third person, present tense format. I really don't like present tense, and it sounded awkward in audio. However, that ended up being a minor issue for me because I got more and more used to it as I went along.
I didn't know that this book contained a first time gay experience before reading, but I think that is worth noting because that is a particularly favorite theme of mine. I liked how Malin was in his 40s and discovering attraction to another man for the first time. Avon Gale did a very nice job with that aspect of the story, and it was an unexpected bonus for me.
Now, onto the kink...
The kink in this book was a real sticking point for me. The first half of the book was almost painful to read, if I'm being honest. I'm not a fan of pain play or breath play, especially without boundaries or knowledge of how that stuff works. The kinks that I'm into are humiliation, daddy kink, and discipline, so beating and blood are SO not what I'm looking for. That being said, even if you are into that stuff, I'd think you'd feel mighty uncomfortable reading some of the stuff in this story. I legit HATED Malin at the halfway point, and I was fully rooting for Avery to just ditch him.
After Avery breaks through to Malin, things get much, much better on the romance-front, but it might have been too little, too late for me. I was team Avery/Malin by the end, but I don't know if it made up for the crappy, crappy way that Malin treated Avery before that point.
In terms of character, we only get Avery's POV but I feel like I got to know him really well. I loved Avery, and I understood him fully. I also loved his open attitude towards sex and sexuality, and how honest he was. This book was totally team #bisexualpride, and I loved that about the story.
The audiobook narration was very good, overall, but I had some small issues with it. I really enjoyed Derrick McClain's voice and his reading style, and I thought that he did a wide range of voices very well. A big pet peeve of mine was his pronunciations, which killed me. Every time he said "Berk-SHY-ers" for the Berkshires, I wanted to cry. It's "Berk-sheers," man! Derrick McClain also butchered all of the French works and names (every time he said Malin... cringe).
Overall, this book left me feeling good, but I almost quit in the middle due to the fact that Malin was so terrible to Avery and I wasn't feeling a lick of romance. Avon Gale made a recovery, but it was a close call.
*Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Catch ya later!