Author: Matthew Metzger
Publisher: JMS Books
[xrr rating= 4.5/5]
He knows chasing those fantasies is only going to end in disaster, but he can’t seem to stop his self-destructive spiral. He’s a transgender man struggling to come to terms with the intersection of his identity and his sexual fantasies as a submissive. He needs someone to take control before he loses it completely.
Daz can take control. He can teach Stefan everything there is to know about sex and submission, but for some reason, he can’t get inside Stefan’s head. Daz can stop Stefan’s self-destruction but not the fear that fuels it.
Stefan needs to know who he is before he can accept what he is. And it’s Yannis—Daz’s aromantic, asexual, stern, and sarcastic partner—who has the answer
First and foremost, don’t even pick this book up if you can’t stomach reading about self-inflicted harm, rape or near rape, graphic depictions of violence, and/or suicidal ideations. This book starts out with a strong statement of Stefan’s state of mind. He’s a young man in transition who is getting his testosterone online since he can’t hold a job and knows he wouldn’t be able to pass the psych tests involved to pass into an approved program. He hates his body, specifically his still-there breasts and vagina; and his out-of-control sexual desires, his state of poverty, and body dysmorphia keep him in a state of constant despair. His sex drive is powerful and constant and he craves being abused. He’s not after a partner. He wants to be owned. He wants a master. He wants to hurt. He feels shame about it but that doesn’t change his desire to be someone’s slave.
In Daz, he manages to find the perfect man to meet his needs. Daz, an enigmatic, strong, and controlling man, masters Stefan, and at times his actions are so cruel that it was difficult for me to appreciate how he handled Stefan.
But by the end of the book, it was very evident that everything that happened was perfect in its own way. Daz’s asexual partner, Yanni, plays a major role in this drama as well. Not only is he asexual, he’s able to totally disregard Stefan’s involvement with Daz, something that Stefan finds odd at first. Later, Yanni uses music to awaken Stefan to new facets of his sexual behavior. And it’s Yanni that finally helps Stefan understand what it means to be aromantic and to help him come to accept that he is not alone, and definitely not a freak because of his sexual proclivities.
I have many passages marked in this story to help keep my memory fresh, since it was a very long story, but even as I look back on what I have, I find it difficult to find the words to describe how incrementally slowly Stefan and his relationship with Daz and Yanni changed.
This book is very dark, and there were parts, especially in the first half, where I thought I’d have to stop reading. Not that the writing was bad. No, it was the fact that the writing was so very good. I kept stepping back into the character and my emotions were put through the ringer as Stefan struggled to figure out just who he is and what he wants. The second half often had equally chilling scenes. However, at that point, I was ready to keep going, no matter what. The journey for Stefan to find peace and self-acceptance takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.
If you can overlook or overcome the dark aspects of the story, you will be treated to brilliant writing and unforgettable characters who work their way to a memorable and satisfying finale.