I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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While this story may seem cute on the surface, I had some issues at a deeper level.
First, the BDSM aspects don't seem realistic. Nate seems a) older than he's supposed to be, which may be explained by his upbringing, and b) seems to not have much of an idea what being a Dom means. His commandeering nature notwithstanding, I found it difficult to believe that he's serious about his role, when he takes a sheltered virgin to his bed, and basically tells him "This is what I need, or we can't be lovers.", therefore making it sound like an ultimatum. He seems to need some guidance from an experienced Dom, if he's serious about this lifestyle.
Secondly, Alex was portrayed as someone who'd spent the last three years in isolation being homeschooled, and the previous year being bullied and beaten by his classmates. While he may have responded to Nate's dominance, and while I liked that he had some backbone, I felt that his demeanor during the sexy times was less fumbling about than I expected. He immediately latched on to Nate, and there were hints that he's still fearful about coming out, considering the homophobia and neglect he lived with for the previous four years, and his thoughts point in that direction as well. I didn't feel that Alex knew what he was really getting into (internet research notwithstanding), and that, while feeling attracted to Nate, he didn't quite understand what BDSM was about. Not that Nate had much more of a clue.
Also, this smacked of instalove. There didn't seem to be enough time for their feelings to develop, and instead of love, I only saw infatuation. And what may amount to dubious consent from someone who's so starved for affection that he gives himself to the first person who shows interest. I guess it's possible that Alex is a submissive by nature, and by nurture, but they didn't have the talks I expected, and Nate was a bit too OTT for my taste.
The sexy times didn't feel organic - Alex expertly swallows everything, doesn't sputter, chokes only a little - and didn't really fit the tone of the remaining story. What also felt a little odd was that Nate gives lip service to Alex' innocence, but then forges ahead anyway, then pulls back and plays the game of "you must ask me for what you want".
I'm probably a little biased about clamoring for an accurate portrayal of BDSM, with recent years flooding the market with the wannabe kind that often unfairly and inaccurately shows the lifestyle as just some kinky sex, a la 50 Shades and others in that tone. It's not. The dynamics in a BDSM or Dom/sub relationship are much more nuanced than that, and stories that seemingly use BDSM as a titillation tactic instead of exploring the true nature behind it, are not doing the reality any favors. I'm a little bit angry that this story seems to insinuate that a man who was forced to look after his younger siblings obviously turns into a Dom, and a young man bullied and isolated automatically becomes a submissive. It doesn't usually work that way, in my humble estimation. Maybe I'm wrong.
This story was written for the Love Is An Open Road event from the M/M Romance group. My thanks to the author for participating.