Author ~ Avon Gale
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 25th September 2015
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary BDSM Romance
Avery Hextall, a junior architect at a prestigious firm, is thrilled when his design is chosen for a new performing-arts center—even if it means working closely with his insufferably uptight project manager, Malin Lacroix. When a chance encounter in the boss’s office proves that Lacroix is anything but cold, Avery is determined to learn more about the real man beneath the aloof veneer.
Despite their growing attraction and their increasingly kinky encounters, the enigmatic Malin remains as emotionally distant as ever. Worse, Avery’s friends are convinced Malin thinks of Avery as a dirty secret and nothing more—a secret that might destroy both of their careers.
But the real secret is a single moment in time that haunts Malin and keeps him from committing to the life he wants with Avery. In order to move on, Avery must help Malin come to terms with the tragedy in his past before they can work on building a future together.
I love it when I pick up a book by a first time author, finish it and immediately wonder when their next book will be out. This is one of those books. This book surprised the heck out of me.
Here we get the world according to Avery Hextall; a 31 year old, bisexual, junior architect who has yet to have a design approved by his project manager Malin Lacroix (who Avery tells us is boring, smug, has no personality and is a crusher of hopes and dreams). Focused on his career, Avery doesn’t have relationships. He is snarky, can be a bit impulsive and tends to run off at the mouth, but that’s all part of his charm. When his latest, greatest design is rejected, he decides to confront Lacroix in his office and barges right in. He calls his boss a prick and manages not to throw a paperweight at his head. Lacroix agrees he is talented, explains to him why the “golden boy” Brandon Thomas’ design was chosen over his and merely suggests he take a few days off rather than firing him. When the two run into each other later in Avery’s “drinking office”, things only get worse when a drunk Avery basically accuses Lacroix of receiving sexual favors from Brandon. If that’s not bad enough, something in the back of Avery’s brain hints him having a crush on Lacroix. A hint that is confirmed when he finds himself getting off to thoughts of Malin Lacroix manhandling him.
Avery finds his next project accepted, requiring him to work longer hours under the direction of Lacroix. Another impulsive move leads to angry, rough sex that pushes all of Avery’s buttons. Now there is no way Avery can ignore his lust for Lacroix, although Lacroix seems to have no different feelings towards Avery than before. Disregarding all the good advice from his friends Avery pursues Lacroix. The “relationship” starts out as occasional sex, but Avery is getting emotionally attached while Lacroix mostly remains cold. Avery loves the aggressive sex and is willing to push Lacroix to get it. Lacroix seems to love the domination but shows little other interest in Avery. Can this relationship with the seemingly cold, unfeeling Lacroix really ever go anywhere?
At about 40% into the story I was convinced the MCs were both bat crap crazy and their violent hookups would result in a trip to the emergency room. Kinky? Hell yes! Safe and sane? Not even close. They both know what they want, but not what they are doing. The scenes are intense and really had me wondering how far they would push things. Avery’s friends who are in a BDSM relationship grow concerned and try to guide him, try to make sure he’s safe, try to direct him away from the seemingly one-sided relationship with Malin, but Avery’s emotions are involved and the lust is hard to ignore. He gets angry at himself for allowing Malin to treat him like he doesn’t matter, tries to walk away but quickly realizes he can’t. Avery is miserable with him and miserable without him and something is going to have to give.
I loved Avery’s voice. His internal musings and verbal commentary were quite amusing, even if Malin didn't think so. Malin is quiet and intense and with only Avery’s point of view, it took a while to warm up to him. He was a mystery to me, and Avery, for a majority of the book, though there are a few peeks at what may be a softer side. Nothing is easy between Avery and Malin except for the sex and really, that's all there seems to be between them for quite some time, hooking up and then working together for days or weeks as if nothing ever happened. When the two finally try to work things out and set some rules it becomes clear that Malin is a real person with real feelings and a past that may be the reason for the cold, detached persona.
This could probably be classified as a miscommunication story, but it was more in the realm of two people refusing to communicate and then trying to but going about it in the wrong way. Avery talks a lot to his friends but is afraid of pushing Malin in that area until he feels he has no other option.
Avery’s friends were great secondary characters. His friend with benefits Harlan, has cut off Avery’s benefits, but still is there for advice and support. His work nemesis Brandon turns out to be hard to hate and able to offer Avery some valuable insight and Justin is a kindred spirit and a perfect addition to Avery’s life.
Avon Gale gave me an unexpected story. The writing was fresh with a good dose of humor and the story pulled me in and kept me wondering where it would go. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next book from Avon Gale and I really hope you’ll give this one a try.