Author ~ A.M. Arthur
Publisher ~ Carina Press
Published ~ 20th July 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary Erotic M/M Romance, BDSM.
Thanks to an abusive father and a string of bad relationships, Riley McCage learned the hard way that people are not kind without a reason. Now, after landing a job at popular gay bar Pot O Gold, Riley is on the right track—until the night Boxer finds him drunk and drugged in the back room of an exclusive sex party.
Donald “Boxer” Boxwood wasn’t looking for anything beyond some casual kink until he peeled Riley off the floor and gave him a safe place to stay. But there’s something compelling about the guy crashing on his couch, and the two forge an instant friendship that eases into unmistakable attraction. Despite Riley’s hesitancy, Boxer knows one thing to be true: he needs Riley in his life.
Riley risked everything to run away and build a new life for himself, and his secrets aren’t something he’d ever wish upon his kind, gentle new friend. But when the past comes to call, he’ll have no choice but to put his trust in Boxer…and believe people can change enough to deserve a second chance.
Book two of the Restoration series
This is book two in the Restoration series and the timeline continues from where the first one ends. Although Boxer was introduced there as a minor secondary character and almost everyone reappears in this book, it can work as a standalone. Where Getting it Right was heavy with the angst and drama, this one was better balanced with more focus on the main relationship without one tragedy after another. Of course this is A.M. Arthur so there is some heavy drama that plays out, especially with Elliott, who will have the next story in the series.
After coming out to his abusive, alcoholic father just after his eighteenth birthday, Theo Carey is homeless and for all intents and purposes dead. Riley McCage is born with fake papers and has managed to get by on his own for the past five years, now working as a bartender at the Pot O Gold. He doesn’t discuss his past and he has firm limits with regard to his relationships. When Brett, his boyfriend of seven months, unexpectedly takes him to a sex party, things go wrong fast.
Donald “Boxer” Boxwood’s boyfriend of one year just left him. Looking for a release, he is at Zack’s party to find someone to dominate him. When he sees Riley with Brett at Zack’s party, he knows something is up. He knows Riles as the bartender at the Pot and something seems off. The next thing he knows he is saving Riley from an attempted rape in the back room of the apartment. Boxer takes a drugged and scared Riley to his house to sleep it off where Brett can’t find him.
The muscled, tattooed, Boxer is just the type Riley usually stays far away from, but Boxer’s caring and protective nature comes through and the two become fast friends. Both have serious family issues and neither are looking for a relationship. Boxer’s outward appearance is at odds with what he is looking for in a man, someone who is average, not a bear or leather daddy, but who is not afraid to take charge in the bedroom. Although Riley wants a real relationship, he is tired of being taken advantage of and his life experience has taught him that no guy or favor comes without strings attached. Judging from what Boxer wants in a man, friendship is all those two would ever have.
“The past can ambush you if you don’t know to watch for it.”
As Riley gets to know Boxer’s circle of friends, the threat that his past will come back to find him skyrockets and he has to decide whether he wants to confront it or keep running from it. Boxer’s friend Nathan is trying to track down Detective Carey’s estranged son, as Carey remains hospitalized from the gunshot wound he sustained in the first book. Boxer soon realizes that Riley is actually Theo, and although the abusive father Riley has described is at odds with the man his friends describe, he has a respect for Riley’s anger and need to hide his identity.
Boxer and Riley’s friends to lovers story was paced really well. The two don’t jump into bed right away but spend quality time getting to know and trust each other. There are some hiccups but for the most part they are actually honest and open with what they want. Although Boxer seems to want everything Riley can’t give, the progression of their friendship first allowed Riley to discover the possibility of taking charge of not just his own life, but translating it into exactly what Boxer wants from a partner. The BDSM aspect is not hardcore as Boxer’s kink is really being ordered around and told what to do. When the two men get together and Riley finds his inner toppy dom, it is all kinds of hot. The story of Riley and his father also plays out naturally and I loved the way Riley’s character really grows throughout the story.
If the excessive angst in the first story made you think twice about this one, or made you skip it altogether, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with this well rounded, enjoyable book.