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|This is the 7th book in the Collars & Cuffs series.
The book opens with Jarod saying goodbye to his Master at the airport, when Master is leaving for a flight to NYC. Jarod immediately comes off as someone who needs to serve, needs the guidance of the older man. They've been together for a very, very long time - twenty-four years.
Tragedy strikes, and Jarod is lost. My heart broke for him from the start - it was so sad to watch him clean the house they shared, only to clean it again because he had nothing better to do. No direction. No one to serve.
And at fifty, Jarod doesn't feel like trying again, like putting himself out there. When he does try, he is ridiculed and laughed at by subs and Doms alike, because the club that he visits isn't really a true BDSM club, but people playing at the life style.
Except for Eli who notices Jarod kneeling, who sees that everything about Jarod simply screams submission and the need to serve. Eli takes Jarod home, and their story begins.
Initially, I didn't like Eli very much. He's not a good Dom, only thinking about his own desires, instead of what his sub wants and needs, and even when his friend Ben (from book three, who wasn't a good Dom himself at the time) tells him and warns him, Eli doesn't quite get it. Oh, he agrees with Ben, and promises to fix things, but he doesn't.
It all comes to a head early into the relationship, when Eli decides that he wants to show off his perfect submissive at the same club where he picked him up. Jarod is completely humiliated and flees in shame.
I was on the edge of my seat, with hot tears in my eyes, watching the remainder of that scene unfold.
At least, Eli is awake now, and begins to act like a Dom instead of a spoiled brat, which leads him to Collars & Cuffs. The club is a perfect fit, not only for him, but also for Jarod, who blossoms with the friendships he finds there (Alec, Scott, Peter, Darian - they all play a role here), and begins to believe that he might be worthy after all.
As always, the feeling of accurate descriptions of the lifestyle is what makes this series so outstanding, and it is ever clear that the authors did their homework yet again. The emotions are plentiful in this book as in many of the others, and I cried and rejoiced with Jarod through tragedy and triumph. His character, so shy and so grateful for whatever he's given, so needy in his desire to serve his Sir, his strength (because if you think subs are weak, you're way off), and his perseverance - his entire characterization - are what made this book.
Eli has a lot to learn as a Dom, and learn, he surely does. A very satisfying HEA notwithstanding, what made this book so wonderful is the journey these two men take.
I'm looking forward to the next (and apparently last) one in this series.
** I received a free copy of this book from one of its authors. A positive review was not promised in return. **