Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: When to Hold Them
SERIES: Bluewater Bay #9
AUTHOR: G.B. Gordon
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 221 pages
Doran Callaghan doesn’t know when to fold ’em. His gambling has landed him in debt and in jail, and now it’s got him stuck in the sticks in a reintegration program. He wants to turn his life around, but old habits come knocking, and some creditors are harder to shake than others.
Xavier Wagner cares more about the National Park he works in than the people around it, until a stranger awakens desires he didn’t know he had. Doran’s natural submissiveness turns Xavier’s ideas of how to treat a lover upside down. But Doran doesn’t seem to know about boundaries — or even to have any — and Xavier’s not sure that Doran will say no if he needs to. Which means someone’s going to get hurt.
While Xavier struggles with his principles, Doran’s past comes calling. Trusting each other is suddenly a matter of life or death, but Doran has to decide whether counting on Xavier — or himself — is a gamble he’s willing to take.
Yes! This book has one of my favorite tropes to read about. Big, strong, steady man, meets smaller, flightier, needy man. Add in a bit of BDSM, or at least some D/s and I am a happy girl. This book made me very happy.
Doran (who I called Dorian in my head for most of the book!) has some issues. He got in to gambling, owed some money to the wrong man, got caught, went to jail very briefly, then went in to a program. He’s now stuck in Bluewater Bay Washington, working for the tourism office doing graphic work for them. He gets paid very little, but has an apartment. He takes the bus to Port Angeles twice a week to meet with his parole officer and to go spend a very uncomfortable h0ur at Gamblers anonymous. The highlight of his life is watching the sexy park ranger make his weekly gas stop at the gas station across the street from the tourism office. One Sunday he gets up the nerve to go over while the hot man is there….
Xavier is a big beautiful man, strong and steady, but a loner. He doesn’t seem to have any friends, but is very close to his family. He’s a park ranger, really more than that, but lives on his own in the national park. He’s comfortable with his sexuality, goes to get his needs met in Seattle now and then, but basically keeps to himself. He’s big and has dominant tendencies, but a very sweet and nurturing heart. He’s afraid of hurting someone if he lets himself act on his desires. He’s smitten by the boy, no, young man he sees in the gas station one weekend, then shocked to see the same kid peering in to the window of his truck. Instead of threatening or freaking out, he asks the kid out for coffee.
And off we go on a great story! Doran is a hot mess. Broke, desperate to earn enough money to pay back his uncle who bailed him out of jail, trying so hard to be good, but struggling. Then we have Xavier, who so needs someone to care for. The two are just meant to be together. If only they’d figure it out and get together! Miscommunications, or really lack of communication causes serious issues. Doran has been abandoned by everyone he has trusted before, so he’s reluctant to trust Xavier. He needs a keeper, a lover, and someone to tell him what to do. Xavier is so afraid he’ll hurt someone that he is scared to be free with his feelings toward Doran. He also knows Doran is keeping something from him. Both men make mistakes. But damn, when they are together it is so sweet and hot.
This is not a book about BDSM, but there is an element of dominance and submission to this story. Xavier is a dominant man, not the wear leather and wield a whip, capital D dominant, but he’s a strong caring man, that likes to be in control. Doran is submissive and makes bad decisions. I can see both of them needing what the other has to offer. I’d love to see them a year or two down the road after their relationship has developed. There is just a bit of bondage play, I want to know what else they’ll try. So yummy!
This is a bi-racial couple, although it’s not really brought up much. As it doesn’t need to be. Xavier’s mom is black, his dad is white. That’s about it. It seems Xavier may have felt a bit lost in his younger years, not white, not black, but this doesn’t appear to have affected him, other than maybe contributing to his loner tendencies. I like that race wasn’t an issue for either Xavier or Doran.
This is the first book I have read by G.B. Gordon and it was very good. I liked the writing style, the story flowed well, the dialogue worked, and the characters were well done. It had the right balance of internal drama between Xavier and Doran, and a bit of external drama with a bad guy showing up. I liked the inclusion of Doran’s gambling addiction, it wasn’t overdone, but it was there. I loved the sex between them, and the developing D/s relationship. I love these Bluewater Bay books, you know they are set in the same town, and sometimes have a crossover character, but each is individual and special.
Very well done! Great story and I highly recommend it! It is a standalone, you don’t have to have read the others in the series to read this one, but if you do get this one and like it, I’d go work through the others as well. This is certainly one of the better books in the series, but they are all good.