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It's always bittersweet, when a beloved series comes to an end. It's especially bittersweet when said series end captures all the perfection from its previous books, and leaves the reader, while sad that it's over, happy that it happened.
Such is the case with Endings and Beginnings, the 8th and final book in the Collars & Cuffs series, set in and around a BDSM club in Manchester, England.
The two authors did a fantabulous job letting me reminisce about the previous books, in which we met Leo and Alex, Thomas and Peter, Ben and Scott, Eli and Jared, Dorian and Alan (my favorite book), Andrew and Gareth, Damian and Jeff, and then introduced me to Darren and JJ.
Darren is the owner of the beauty salon where Peter had his "rebirth", and ever since that moment, he's been intrigued with the intimacy and connection he saw between Thomas and Peter. He wants that for himself, but doesn't quite know how to get it. His last relationship was unfulfilling, and while he knows what he needs, he's unsure of whether there is someone who could be his counterpart.
JJ is a new bartender at Collars & Cuffs, and he has a secret. No, I'm not going to reveal that here - you read this for yourself and find out. Let it suffice that when I saw the words on the page, my mouth was hanging wide open and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Yes, the authors went there. And it was perfect, because it shows that evil has far-reaching consequences. JJ sees the connections between the long-time couples at the club, and this has him questioning all kinds of things.
So Darren seeks what Thomas and Peter have, and JJ seeks something else. And then their paths cross...
There's a wedding, there's Peter growing by leaps and bounds, there's a nasty wanna-be reporter trying to fuck things up, there's holy hot boysecks, Batman, and there's love, so much love. That, to me, is the underlying message in each of these books, aside from clearly and effortlessly explaining most if not all aspects and varieties of BDSM - that love and respect are at the core of these relationships. Love is what binds these men more than ropes or cuffs ever could.
I adored the two main characters for this book much like I adored the main characters in previous books, and as we get to revisit with them all, none of them ever lose their voices they've been given throughout the series. It was wonderful to see Alex and Leo on screen, and check in with Dorian and Alan, as well as Thomas and Peter and Eli and Jared. Changes are coming for some of them, and a beloved couple is given a wonderful opportunity to grow and find a new home.
I had a great time watching Darren and JJ grow close, with Darren instinctively understanding how skittish JJ was and adjusting his pursuit of the young man accordingly.
JJ has some hard lessons to learn, one of which is that not all is what it seems, and the other one is that pride comes before the fall. And that maybe he was wrong all along.
This was a fitting ending to a great series, and while I'm sad that it's over, I am able to re-read these books any time I want to. And I will. Each one is written with such emotion that I can't help but form a connection with the characters, smile and laugh and cry and fear with them. There's no pointless drama - each step forward and each step back has a purpose - and the characters communicate (well, for the most part) with each other, and when they don't, they quickly realize that they need to if they want the relationship to succeed.
Even though not all eight books are collabs between KC Wells and Parker Williams, the two authors' writing styles mesh seamlessly, and they gave us a magnificent send-off to this series.
I hope they will write more books together in the future, even if those aren't about Collars & Cuffs. Maybe as the title seems to indicate, this is only the beginning to a prolific series of books we may look forward to in the future.
** I received a free copy of this book from one of the authors. A positive review was not promised in return. **