Reviewed by Sarina
TITLE: The Closet Boy
SERIES: Iron Eagle Gym #4
AUTHOR: Sean Michael
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 214 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 25, 2016
Way’ra Bernard is only twenty years old when his parents kick him out of the house. He has been brought up to believe being gay is wrong and he is going to go to hell for it. He tried very hard not to be gay but couldn’t change the way he felt. Now he’s living furtively in a closet on the third floor of the place he’s working as a janitor—the Iron Eagle Gym. Neal McPherson is an unattached Dom in his midtwenties and a member of the gym. One evening after working out, he notices Way’ra on the stairs, and he’s immediately attracted and intrigued, so he asks Way’ra out. Unable to come up with a reason to refuse, and also interested in Neal, Way’ra accepts. There are a lot of obstacles to the relationship they attempt to build after their date, not least of which is Way’ra’s upbringing and his lingering doubts about the kinky sex Neal enjoys. But with patience and persistence, Neal might convince Way’ra not only to accept himself, but to loosen his inhibitions enough to explore and find a happy ending together.
Way’ra grew up in a strict religious household where ‘impure’ thoughts and desires resulted in talk of fire and brimstone and assurances that he’d be going straight to hell. Despite that, however, he can’t help but give into his desires. Just once. Being discovered and thrown out onto the street was the worst thing that’s ever happened to Way’ra but he’s slowly working his way towards a better life for himself; one that lets him eat more than once a day and sleep in a real bed. All he wants is to do his job and go unnoticed by anyone else; too bad Neal didn’t get that memo. Giving Way a real home and hope for the first time in months, Neal seems too good to be true but as they spend more time together, Way is beginning to discover that he deserves happiness and maybe, just maybe, he deserves Neal, too.
While the Iron Eagle Gym series thus far has, on the whole, been full of hot men doing loads of kinky stuff together, I found this latest installment to be more on the sweeter side of things. Way’ra has had it rough and losing his family, friends and home all in one go would’ve broken most other people but he’s still managed to survive even if he isn’t thriving. I adored Neal’s care and determination to just take care of Way’ra; to make sure he had food and a place to live, even if he never got Way’ra to agree to a relationship. And when Way’ra did agree, Neal’s desire to woo him and give him all the sweet experiences that he’s never had, like dating, kind of made me turn to mush a little bit, not gonna lie. 😀
Like the rest of the series, there are some BDSM elements to the story but they’re really mild and don’t really start until maybe 60% into the book. I liked the relationship between Way’ra and Neal and didn’t really miss the BDSM I had been expecting and for someone who didn’t even know about the lifestyle before working at the gym, I found the kink level, and Way’ra’s reactions, to be pretty spot on. There was an incident at the gym near the end of the book, however, that I wish had been touched on/resolved a bit more but all in all I was happy with where the story ended.
I really enjoyed this latest installment to the Iron Eagle Gym series; it was a sweet story full of firsts and a great deal of care that made for a nice way to spend a couple of hours. If the book sounds good to you but you don’t like a lot of kink, this would be a good one to check out as the relationship building and the connection between Neal and Way’ra is the focus of the story. Those that like their books full of kink may not be as happy with it but I figure I can always re-read a previous story for that and I am, of course, looking forward to the next book. 🙂