I’m not a huge BDSM reader, but the historical aspect of this series intrigued me and, after reading book one, I was hooked on the series immediately. The series has six novels and one short, but the order of reading is a little confusing: books one to five are all in order, then book 5.5 is an addition that doesn’t have a truly specific timeline that interacts with the series as a whole. Book 6, however, is a ‘prequel’, an origin story of one of the regular characters, but it must be read as book 6, because the first and last chapter are set in the current timeline, with the rest of the novel set as the origin story. So, to understand the first and last chapters, you have to have read the entire series so far. But, I promise you, it’s worth it. The BDSM is clever, original, and true to the historical setting, but it’s not over done and it doesn’t cloud the romance or prove overbearing to the plot.
Book One: Hesitant Heart
Sam is a naïve young man who arrives in Hollywood to escape his brutal father. When the older, sophisticated Aaron rescues him, Sam discovers what it means to fully surrender himself to another.
Eighteen year-old Sam Cunningham is used to living with lots of secrets. He’s had to hide his true nature his entire life or else incur the wrath of his strict and abusive father. When he’s faced with a horrible ultimatum, he flees to Hollywood where he hopes he can escape the fate his father has planned for him.
Aaron Rubenstein is a wealthy and sophisticated man who loses himself in painting portraits of bound men to help stave off his loneliness and despair. Unable to find a lasting connection with anyone, he’s had to resort to paying lovers not only for their affections, but to be allowed to indulge in his darker passions. Aaron’s only respite is his nights at the Hampton Road sadomasochism club where he’s a respected Dominant.
Naïve and inexperienced in the ways men can please one another, Sam takes a job at a bathhouse where he first glimpses a beautiful older man. Aaron notices the sweet towel boy watching him with interest every time he patronizes the Temple of Eros bathhouse. A traumatic incident for the innocent towel boy triggers Aaron’s protective tendencies and he’s compelled to rescue the gentle Sam from the clutches of the Temple’s manager.
They embark on a journey together that teaches them both things about themselves that they never knew. As their bond deepens and Sam is trained for his first night at the Hampton Road Club, an unknown danger lurks. Will Sam’s father find him and destroy both men’s chance for true happiness together? Or will Aaron protect his boy and keep him for always?
M/M Erotic Romance author Morticia Knight enjoys hot stories of men loving men forever after. They can be men in uniform, Doms and subs, rock stars or bikers – but they’re all searching for the one (or two!) who was meant only for them.
When not indulging in her passion for books, she loves the outdoors, film and music. Once upon a time she was the singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She is currently working on more installments of Sin City Uniforms and The Hampton Road Club, as well as the follow-up to Bryan and Aubrey’s story from Rockin’ the Alternative.
Book One: Hesitant Heart
Warnings: BDSM elements (spanking, obedience, club, pain play), Rent Boys, Homophobia, Parental abuse
Now, normally I’d have at least 2 dozen notes and highlights from reading to use as my review. Not in this case. Why? Because I was so engrossed from page one that I didn’t want to stop, not even to make notes or make out great quotes. Once I delved into the belly of the beast, I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
Quite simply, there was nothing I didn’t love about this book.
The historical accuracy of the 1920’s lifestyle for gay men was so well explored and explained that even if I hadn’t already known how dangerous and hard it was for gay men to live their lives in that time, I would have understood the risks from the story. It was never over-emphasised or exaggerated, but stated in that simple, tolerated way that all gay men had to tolerate the laws and rules of modern living back then.
As for characters, I quickly fell in love with both Sam and Aaron. Together, they weer magnificent and beautiful. Separately, Sam was so innocent and adorable, naive but so willing to learn; Aaron was strong, but gentle and so ready to lead Sam into this unknown world at a pace he deserved. The way they let each other get used to their lifestyle, to the lessons and the changes in their relationship was wonderful. Right from the start, the chemistry was palpable, but beyond that – and most importantly – they communicated, loved each other and openly participated in every aspect of their relationship as equals!
One of the best BDSM novels I’ve read. Ever.
From the writing to the characterisation, to the pulse-racing anticipation, it was perfection from beginning to end.
“As Aaron descended on him, Sam held his breath. He’d yearned to share a kiss with a man for so long, he thought he might faint from anticipation.” ~ You and me both, Sam. You and me both.