Bound by Lies by Lynn Kelling
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Story Rating: 5 out of 5 paddles
Sting Factor (kink): 4 out of 5
Brayden Clare never wanted to return to small town life. Blond, athletic, and struggling with his sexual identity, a casual relationship on the beach in Florida suits him much better. When a family emergency calls him home, he is forced to trade his personal freedom for a job as a bartender in a town where everybody thinks they know who he is, and nobody has a clue—including Brayden. Jenner Parrish is the owner and operator of Parrish Pub, the social hub of Robertsville, Pennsylvania. Jenner is charming, dominant, and popular since they were both in high school together. Brayden finds his new boss intimidating, and is daunted to find that turns him on. Jenner finds his new recruit intriguing but mustn’t dare to ask an employee to submit to him. The two men find what they’re seeking at a masked BDSM ball in the next town over, and are startled to discover their desires rest much, much closer to home.
Sitting down to write this review, I am left with the problem of where to start. This book was so engrossing I struggled to keep notes as I read. It completely sucked me in. The author of this book created captivating characters that weren’t just telling the reader a story. They were bringing you into their world and allowing you to witness a journey with them. Brayden is damaged and lovable, complex and so heart wrenching. Jenner is strong and sweet; his own past creating demons he fights to rid himself of. Together they are what every reader of M/M lit dream of reading. The author takes the time to delve so deeply into the character development of not just Brayden and Jenner, but the supporting characters as well, that by the end of the book, you feel you know these characters just as much as you would reading a multi-story series. And the author pulls it off without the story lagging.
Brayden and Jenner’s mutual attraction have them both tip toeing around each other during the first quarter of the book. With them both keeping their sexual preferences to themselves, as well as the fact that Brayden ends up Jenner’s employee; they keep their desires to themselves. When they both attend the same BDSM ball, Jenner is shocked to find the man he has been lusting over in attendance with him. The scene they share in a private room at the ball is smoking hot, but the underlying emotional pull Jenner experiences is what makes the scene so special.
When Brayden discovers who exactly he ended up playing with at the ball, his reactions are more realistic than many other books with similar situations. in fact, most of the human interactions in this book are more realistic than most books I have read. The author has an amazing grip on human nature and honest reactions than are normally depicted in fictional stories. For that, I applaud her.
The kink aspects of this story are intense and highly entertaining. Unlike many books I have read in this genre, Brayden and Jenner do not enter into a more D/s targeted relationship. Instead, they begin a more stringent Master/slave relationship that is fascinating. The author is amazingly descriptive as Jenner trains Brayden to be his slave. The care Jenner shows for his slave and the time he takes to communicate his desires as well as his responsibilities makes this an amazing fictional story for people to read that are interested in Master/slave relationships. By the end of the book, I found a few of my questions I had about M/s lifestyles answered, as well as a better understanding of why the dynamic is so appealing to some. Jenner takes his time making sure that Brayden has a full understanding of what he is submitting to, and his rules are well communicated and enforced. He makes sure that Brayden is not pushed past his limits and is not forced into anything he does not want/ want to try.
I loved how forthright the issues were in this book. The struggles that Brayden and Jenner went through when people that cared about them found out about the lifestyle they were choosing to live felt natural. The fear they both felt at the world finding out they were gay made my heart go out to both of them. And when they both discovered that what they felt for each other meant more than what the rest of the world would think about them, I wanted to cheer. It was wonderful though to read a story with such an incredibly supporting secondary character line up. Too often you read stories where coming out to loved ones end up costing them the people in their lives. With full understanding that that is a harsh reality people live with everyday, it was wonderful to read a story where the people that Brayden and Jenner care about stand by them.
The main issue I had with the entire book came with the scene containing Jenner’s special feather. As a member of the Kink community, it has always been ingrained in me that you do NOT leave a bound submissive alone. Not ever. To me, that was a major disappointment, regardless of how long the submissive is left.
This is a very strongly written and researched book. The scenes are well described and vivid. The editing is solid and I found no major mistakes. If anything, this story was a bit too engrossing. I had to read it 3 times in order to get out of the story enough to remember I was reading this to write a review and not just entertainment. This is a book I would readily recommend to anyone who enjoys not only kinky books, but the m/m genre as well.
Reviewed by Darlene