Review: K.C. Wells and Parker Williams – Before You Break (Secrets #1)

51Kh6KCvF1LAuthor: K.C. Wells and Parker Williams
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: BDSM

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

Summary:

Six years ago Ellis walked into his first briefing as the newest member of London’s Specialist Firearms unit. He was partnered with Wayne and they became fast friends. When Wayne begins to notice changes—Ellis’s erratic temper, the effects of sleep deprivation—he knows he has to act before Ellis reaches his breaking point. He invites Ellis to the opening of the new BDSM club, Secrets, where Wayne has a membership. His purpose? He wants Ellis to glimpse the lifestyle before Wayne approaches him with a proposition. He wants to take Ellis in hand, to control his life because he wants his friend back, and he figures this is the only way to do it.

There are a few issues, however. Ellis is straight. Stubborn. And sexy. Wayne knows he has to put his own feelings aside to be what Ellis needs. What surprises the hell out of him is finding out what Ellis actually requires.

Review:

It’s so exciting to see these authors together again and embarking on a new series—a spinoff of Collars and Cuffs, one of my all-time favorites. The bonus, of course, is getting to see Jarod and Eli, new club owners, and former members at the Collars and Cuffs club in Manchester. They’ve purchased their own club in London, and though they miss their friends as they embark on this new adventure, it’s evident they’re making many new ones. The couple appear throughout the book and are just the perfect touch as they provide gentle guidance, primarily to Ellis, but toward the end to Wayne as well. I like where the authors have taken this couple and I hope they remain strong throughout the series.

Wayne and Ellis were appealing characters, as well. In fact, of the two, surprisingly, I found Wayne to be a more likeable character. His personality was more well-developed, and I was able to appreciate his disposition, his character flaws, his strength, leadership skills, and ability to lead Ellis with a velvet glove. Ellis, on the other hand, seemed to be all over the board. He was not easy for me to love, though I believe the authors’ intention was to make him endearing, he often came across as full of bluster, whiny, and morose. I’ve been thinking about what it was that didn’t make me care as much about him and I can only conclude that I didn’t feel fully engaged with him from the beginning when he was simply Wayne’s friend and coworker. It’s as if I observed him from afar but never got to fully get to know him from the inside.

The basic premise of their coupledom was also a stretch to believe right from the start—two men working together as cops for years, one a bit needy but never asking for anything for himself outright, yet always seeking his partner’s silent support. Little does he know the partner is a Dom who wants nothing more than to take him in hand and be not only his dominant, but also his lover. The ostensibly very straight guy breaks down and it’s only when he admits he needs help that things start to change and that’s when it also comes out that maybe he does like looking at men a little too much to be straight. Ultimately he agrees to be the Dom’s sub and goes along, often reluctantly, with the Dom’s plans. It’s in here somewhere that I totally lost the connection to Ellis. At times, his words and outward needy actions didn’t match his frequently rebellious behaviors—I just didn’t “feel” him. I wish I could express myself with more clarity but that’s the best I can do.

I read the first half of the story pretty quickly, looking forward to each new page since the story was so fast-paced. I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the sex scenes. Given that they were all first times for Ellis, I felt some element of awe and excitement was missing from his reactions to the sexual experiences. The second half of the book, and latter scenes, after a life-threatening scenario on the job, dragged a bit as Ellis spent a lot of time in self-pity. To be honest, I expected Wayne to step in much more quickly and to be more creative with ways to get Ellis back into his submissive mindset via scenes that would not involve physical stress to his legs.

But on the whole, this story worked nicely as a series setup, with the potential for Wayne and Ellis to be ongoing characters, and their story was something very different from the norm. And again, I need to note that Jarod and Eli were present and together in their own fairly unique and loving relationship, and it’s always a pleasure to visit with them. I would recommend this to those who like BDSM, though it’s more of a primer, than an advanced class in BDSM so may be a good intro to those who are interested in starting a new series while learning more about the lifestyle.

I’m looking forward to the next books as I love the combo of these two authors and the world in which their guys live.

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