Reviewed by Sarina
AUTHOR: Lyn Gala
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 330 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 22, 2013
Dylan Carter has always played second fiddle to his perfect older brother, but now that brother is implicated in a terrible crime, and Dylan’s family is imploding. Dylan can’t hide anymore. Knowing he’s falling apart, he searches for something or someone to hold him together—and lands in a BDSM bar called the Stonewall.
Dylan doesn’t understand Miss Dolphinia, the hard-drinking queen who seems determined to play matchmaker. But more confusing is the way the powerful men in leather make him feel. In her wisdom, Miss Dolphinia sends Dylan off to a back room for his introduction to the world of erotic spankings and bondage.
Dylan’s teacher—for want of a better word—is the very dominant Vin Hauser. Vin likes to play hard, but he’s honest with himself—he knows all those men want is a strong hand, not a long-term relationship. Yet Vin can’t help but hope Dylan might be different.
With controversy over his brother’s sins stirring up danger around him, Dylan needs Vin’s support more than ever. But until he and Vin learn to trust each other, Dylan will have to face his fear and the growing threats alone.
Trigger warning: off-page violent hetero rape.
You ever read a book that makes you take a step back and look at what you thought you knew? This book did that for me. I make no apologies about my love for bdsm books and I’ve read several different authors that have written it and written it well. Everything from light, almost non-existent kink to hardcore, hot damn ‘I need a drink and a smoke after reading that’ bdsm that made me think the scenes written couldn’t possibly be legal outside of fiction or someone’s very vivid, dirty imagination. What the author provided here was neither of those things; it was instead a look at what some might consider an old school lifestyle, a relic of a community that’s quickly disappearing under rules and safety nets and, even then, I, much like Dylan in the story, never felt as though things would be taken too far.
Wrapped around the kinkier parts of the book was the real story, however. Within these pages is a family struggling to deal with the accusations against and crimes committed by one of their own while all the while putting on a stoic façade to hide just how broken they all really are. Dylan’s mother is an overbearing, pushy woman who can’t possibly believe her eldest son, Gary, has ever done anything wrong. His entire life she’s bullied others and made excuses for his behavior while she often willfully ignored her two other children when they did or said anything she didn’t consider appropriate. Dylan’s father runs from conflict and hides himself away so he doesn’t have to look his family’s problems in the face until he has no choice but to see them and Carmine, Dylan’s sister, hides her broken edges by pushing even harder to be heard.
And Dylan, poor, sweet Dylan, is searching for a way to let things go because escaping the reality of his home life is becoming near impossible. Over the course of the story, Dylan tries to find a way of coping, first with sex and then by other more illegal means but its when he finally finds his place with Vin that things begin turning around. Vin is broken himself and the cracks in his forced indifference are never more apparent than when he’s with Dylan; these two men fit together near seamlessly when together though it took a while for them to see that. Helping them along was by far my favorite secondary character ever, Miss Dolphinia; a hard as nails Queen that only wants for Vin to be happy. I have never wanted so badly for a supporting character to get their own book as I do Miss Dolphinia and I’d beg if I thought it would get me one.
This book exceeded my expectations, really. The bdsm elements were different than what I’m used do but well used over the course of the story and even if that isn’t your thing, I’d recommend the book for the overall storyline alone. For those with triggers, there is the discussion, and witnessing of, the aftermath of rape and while nothing is graphic, I have tagged it to be on the safe side. This was really just a great book with fantastic characters, even the ones I hated, and if you’re looking for something different, I’d check this one out.