Summary: Dr. Ethan Marshall is the young medical student on call the night Tessa Duran murders her husband for abusing her twelve-year-old-son, Rino. Ethan stays in the cubicle while the rape kit is performed and is surprised when the boy resorts to prayers instead of tears.
Despite compelling evidence, Tessa is sent to jail for life. To avoid placing Rino in foster care, their parish priest agrees to raise him. Ethan is touched by Rino’s plight and visits whenever possible, but the connection is broken when the priest and young boy leave the area months later.
Raised by the Dominicans in California, Rino considers joining the order until a romance blossoms with a fellow student. After much soul-searching, he turns his back on everything familiar, and chooses his orientation over his perceived vocation. Upon graduating dental hygiene school, Rino takes a job at the office of Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy.
Seventeen years have passed since that horrible night in the emergency room. Forty-three-year-old Ethan is now a Dominant in search of a full-time submissive. Twenty-nine-year-old Rino is adrift, longing for someone or something to help him find the serenity he’s lost along the way. As they rekindle their friendship, they realize they might be perfect for each other.
Review: Aptly named, “Forged in Trust” easily describes the very foundation of the relationship between Ethan and Rino. They meet under less than ideal circumstances when Rino (as a 12 year old boy) shows up in Ethan’s emergency room, abused and raped by the man who took him in and should have protected him instead of turning unwanted attention his way. In order to try to help the mother who murdered the man who dared to abuse her boy, it was necessary for the hospital to perform a rape kit test on Rino. It took some tall convincing to finally get the traumatized Rino to consent to the test, and then it was only through Ethan’s unwavering support and comforting presence that Rino was able to do what needed to be done. An instant connection was forged between these two based on trust and respect.
For a while after this event, Ethan visited Rino, now living with the family priest due to his mother’s incarceration. However, in too short a time, the two become separated when Rino moves out of the area with the priest. Fast forward seventeen years, and young Rino runs into Ethan in a chance meeting at (of all places) a BDSM club. Rino has enough struggles with the conflict between his sexual orientation and his deeply held religious beliefs that he doesn’t need further pressure/confusion by becoming embroiled in the D/s scene – or at least that’s what he initially believes until he gets a tiny taste for the lifestyle based on Ethan’s framework and discovers that Ethan’s brand of kink may actually be the key to Rino’s ability to find the peace and serenity within himself that he’s been longing for.
One of the best parts of this story is the fact that we get reacquainted with Robin (Red) and his submissive partner Scott. I love these guys and love how prominently they factored into the story. In terms of sexiness, kinkiness and overall heat, Robin and Scott rocked it more so than Ethan and Rino did in this story. It was interesting to see how the two couples became acquainted and moved ahead as friends. Scott was initially so jealous of Rino and acted more like a cat with a serious case of twitchy claws that were ready to scratch his eyes out!
I had just a couple very slight niggles with the story which included the Brad interlude (I liked the conflict, but felt like it wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been to really create some angst), the fairly vanilla nature of Ethan and Rino’s sex life despite Ethan being an experienced Dom in the lifestyle or even as compared to Robin and Scott, and the ending felt a bit rushed after the author did such a wonderful job building up the back story for these guys.
While this book could technically stand on its own, it truly is enhanced by having read the earlier books in the series and I’ve loved them all. Definitely recommended!!!