Billed as an MM/Mx BDSM romance, this was a fun read, with great characters and a plot which veered from tender to amusing to WTF? Genderqueer Ash's character was terrific (pronouns they/them.) They were a striking balance to cis het Jeff "Flowers" who was newly out of the military and adjusting to civilian life.
"Flowers" was a great bear of a man, and so adorable. The fact he was so ready to accept Ash as they are and be open to new experiences was heart-warming. He was devoid of the macho posturing you might expect from someone whose previous life has been in the military. He was a toxic masculinity-free zone and really refreshing. The way he was accepted by Ash's friends is also heartwarming. There were a lot of lovely moments in this book, including a gorgeous cat called St. Andrew!
I enjoyed the story, and the exploration of different kinks in a non-judgmental way. Yes, the plot became a bit silly after a Russian gangster's bodyguard (called Igor) filmed part of his boss's scene with Ash, but that was kind of fun too. It meant 'Flower Bear' could get his gun out - not something I'm opposed to, if I'm honest.
The dodgiest aspect of the story for me was the Russian mafia characters' accents. ("Ze men vant more money and you have zem giving up ze territory to ozer dealers. You are veak!") This is a pet hate of mine, but I realise it's just a personal opinion. Colloquialism kind of grinds my gears and takes me out of the story. In this case, it was unintentionally hilarious. Felix, the gangster in question, does have a warm and fuzzy moment near the end though, which was sweet.
In fact, warm and fuzzy is how I'd describe this book. There are serious issues about acceptance, tolerance and bigotry, nicely handled, but mostly it is a lovely hug of a book, and I'll definitely check out the next in the series.
An M/Mx BDSM Romance Living outside of the cis-het box makes life more challenging, but also more fabulous. Ash is a high-powered San Francisco real estate agent by day, Professional Dom by night. They live their life gender-queer and proud, but sex-work has gotten old. Will they ever be able to quit Pro-Domming and do kink for fun again? Jefferson “Flowers” Flores is bitter from twenty years in the military and trying to find where he fits in the world. He's finally out of the Army and out of the closet; looking for love, hopeful but cynical in a new city where he doesn't feel like he belongs. When one of Ash's clients has a video of their scene released, his criminal family is out for blood. Flowers steps up to protect Ash and keeps them safe as the feelings for each other grow. Can they really be what the other needs in the middle of running for their lives?