Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Pess
Narrator: Derrick McClain
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.
First and foremost, a shoutout to Derrick McClain whose voice gave life to one of my favorite characters this year: Avery Hextall. I know I wouldn’t have appreciated Avery without Derrick’s narration. He was outstanding in this one.
Avery was such a self-effacing, yet loveable character, who didn’t understand his own need for pain at the beginning of the story and evolved to be much more self-aware and understanding of the fact that just because he needed pain during sex it didn’t mean he did not have value, nor did it mean he didn’t have the right to ask for what he needed and to set limits.
His boss, Malin Lacroix, is the object of his desire, a desire that Avery questions at first, since he thought he hated the critical, close-mouthed supervisor who made the decisions as to which of his junior architects’ projects would be accepted. And he never chose Avery—even after Avery gave everything he had to his designs.
Watching these two interact was a treat. Painfully slowly, their relationship took forever to fully develop, and yet every single moment was necessary. Malin is not a character to love. Far from it. Quiet, with every appearance of being angry and outright mean most of the time, his crisp one-word responses and his reactions to Avery’s constant talking and babbling were painful to witness. And yet…there was always hope that there was more going on behind Malin’s façade than he let on. And finally, we were treated to the full story of why Malin is the way he is, why he holds the job he holds, and exactly what he feels for Avery.
This was so good that I couldn’t stay away from the audiobook, listening to it every chance I got. If you enjoy BDSM with some hard core pain and breath play, topped with a wonderfully, geeky, nerdy MC, you should enjoy this one. Just don’t expect to like Malin! And by all means, pick up the audio version. This one is a treat.