I guess it’s time for another gush-fest. Once again I have fallen in love with a story and the characters in it. This story had everything you could possible want from a good erotic romance; a seemingly impossible attraction, justifiable angst, incredibly hot encounters, characters that are easy to identify with despite the setting, laugh out loud humor and issues to make you think.
Frank’s reasons for not being intimate with the men who work for him in The Market Garden are, as far as most people can tell, simple; he doesn’t do relationships with those who work for him. His other reason – the far more pressing one – is only known to those closest to him and is, on the surface at least, even more legitimate than the explicit one.
All of his reasons don’t stop Frank from being attracted to Stefan the moment he sees him though. Stefan pushes all of Frank’s buttons, and then some, and staying away from the very persistent rentboy is getting harder with every day that passes.
“A seductive top who was into pain and wanted him? This had to be some sort of cosmic practical joke.” – Frank
Stefan’s feelings appear to be the same. From the moment Frank hires him to work in The Market Garden, the younger man seems determined to get close to his boss, refusing to take no for an answer. Even when Frank reveals his real reasons for not being able to get involved, Stefan refuses to back down.
Stefan makes his move during a game of very kinky paintball. It isn’t until he and Frank are alone together that he allows his other side, the one named Brandon, to surface. I loved that distinction between Stefan, the rentboy and Brandon, Frank’s lover and adored the way Frank reacted to both of them.
“You were the only one I set my eyes on before I went out on the field.” – Stefan/Brandon
When Stefan sweeps Frank’s concerns aside, the older man is at first incapable of giving in to the feelings assaulting him; emotions he thought he’d never feel again.
“But even if he was headed for the mother of all car crashes, he couldn’t bring himself to hit the brake with everything he had, not for his sake, not for Brandon’s sake, or Market Garden’s, or sanity or morality, or because it wasn’t fair or even very balanced.” – Frank
But it isn’t long before Frank can no longer deny all the good reasons he has for not getting into a relationship with anyone. And those reasons are even stronger when it comes to Stefan and everything the young man has gone through in the past. My heart broke when Frank decided that it would be easier to end his affair with the man he’s grown to love now, while the relationship is still in its early stages, rather than wait for the pain that seems inevitable if they do stay together.
And here is where I have to admit that at least some of my love for this book has to do with how much I could identify with Frank’s feelings. I was that person telling the one I loved – the man who loved and still loves me – to walk away. I have gone through the thought process that bring you to that conclusion and have felt the relief that follows when all your concerns are swept aside. I know I would have loved this book if I didn’t identify with one of the characters to such an extent; I’m equally sure that the recognition added a shine to my affection for this book and its two main characters.
“The tenderness, the humour, the banter, that caring, all of that swirled in his head and soul and body with the lust, the need, the relief, and the sheer joy of it. Love. Love could be all those things, and it was as real as truth, as real as breath.”
Just in case I’ve made this sound like a heavy and depressing story filled with kinky sex and angst, let me put your mind at ease. There are quite a few tender moments in this book and scenes depicting wonderful friendships. Add to that a good dose of humor as well, and you have a book that takes you from heart-wrenching angst to laugh out loud funny; the best possible combination. And there was one line I may well have to memorize:
“You say grace to anyone, it’s Saint Emily O’Malley of the Sisters of Infinite Patience with Obnoxious Men.”
In fact there is only one downside to this book, a drawback directly related to how much I loved this story; now I have to go back and read all the previous titles. As if I haven’t enough ‘must read as soon as possible’ titles and authors on my list.
“Remember what it felt like to love someone so much it hurt? Yeah. That.”