Stripping used to be fun, lucrative and a place for Dakota to practice for his professional dancing career. But the owner of Glitter Boys wants Dakota for himself and will stop at nothing to possess him. When his thirteen year-old brother runs away from home to escape their abusive father, Dakota is determined to find him before something awful happens to him on the streets.
Patrol officer Reed hasn’t been attracted to a man in a very long time, but when he’s called to an assault in progress at the LGBTQ teen shelter, a young man approaches him, begging for help in finding his missing brother. An instant spark occurs, but he pushes it away. When the same man is attacked outside a strip club later that night, he discovers the desire is mutual.
As the two men learn more about each other and become closer, the spectre of his obsessed ex-boss remains. In addition to that, Dakota has to fight the system to gain guardianship of his brother and keep him out of foster care. Dakota doesn’t know if the hunky cop he’s fallen so hard for can handle a relationship with an ex-stripper struggling with raising a teenager. But, will Reed be able to give up dating women for good and dedicate himself to their new family?
I wanted to like this story more than I wound up being able to. Reed and Dakota work well together and they help each other overcome some of their problems. But I was disheartened by the lack of depth into the issues the story went. Both of their problems were glossed over and then kind of magically got better by the end of the book. The tension with Reed’s ex never got discussed or confronted. The problems facing Dakota to gain custody of his brother reached a peek, and then the epilogue is six months later and they’re a happy family. Dakota’s ex boss has increasing levels of crazy, and again it comes to a head but in the epilogue things are just better without seeing how they all got there. There’s definite effort put in to make these plot points work and have them be an important part of the story. Sadly it just didn’t work and felt like an afterthought.
I really liked Dakota and Reed. These two guys are upfront about who and what they are. They don’t hide or try to sugarcoat their life. I love how open and honest they are with each other. I love how Reed owns his bisexuality despite not having much experience with guys. I love that Dakota pretty much goes “ok, thanks for sharing” and rolls on with his attraction to Reed. I enjoyed how Dakota was afraid Reed would judge him for his job but wouldn’t apologize for being a stripper and using it as a way to practice for the career he wants and is actively working towards. These two characters were amazing and I would love for them to be explored more and show that strength and overall awesomeness. It’s just some of the story around them didn’t really get explored the way it could have.
Three and a half
The waitress of impeccable timing arrived at that moment with their food. After she’d set their food in front of them then left, Dakota immediately disposed of the two pieces of bread after he’d rescued his cheese slices. When she’d asked about his bread choice, he’d almost said ‘it doesn’t matter’ then realized that would’ve only taken them back to the same spot where they’d begun.
He couldn’t help but notice Reed’s interested stare as Dakota arranged his food the way he preferred.
“I probably seem like a weirdo to you, huh?”
Dakota chuckled. He’d annoyed the hell out of more than one date with his picky eating habits. Then again, most people didn’t understand his dreams. Which is why I’m not interested in most people.
“No, not at all.”
He glanced up. Reed appeared genuine.
“It’s interesting how you’ve figured out what works for you and what doesn’t.”
“Except for that whole fainting thing, right?”
Dakota had meant it as a joke, but Reed’s serious expression indicated that was not how he’d taken it.
“I’m sure you’ve been so upset about your brother that your routine was disrupted.”
Dakota quit fussing with his food. “Yeah. These past few days have been among my worst.” The orange cheese stared up at him. His stomach clenched, nausea threatening. He sucked in a deep breath. “But as you said, let’s get to know each other some while we eat. The fucked-up adventures of Dakota Crane can wait until later.”
Reed slid his booted foot along Dakota’s trainers. “You’re right, gorgeous. You were saying?”
Flattery and pretty words followed Dakota everywhere, in particular because of his profession. But hearing it from Reed’s lips gave it a brand new meaning.
“Oh, yeah.” He broke off a corner of the cheese, happy to see that Reed hadn’t hesitated to dig into his own sandwich. “I’ve never been with a bisexual guy before. I mean, it’s not a big deal…” He tilted his head as he considered Reed. “Right? Do…?” It was his turn to flush with heat.
Reed chuckled. “It’s okay. This is what happened at the beginning of my first relationship with a man. It’s natural to be curious.”
“Cool. I didn’t want to be offensive.”
Reed grinned around his food, their playful battle of feet gaining in fervor.
Since he’d been given the green light, he kept going. “How many relationships have you had with men?”
Reed held up a finger as he finished chewing then swallowing. “One.”
Oh. “Why is that?”
Reed shrugged. “I’ve only been back on the dating scene for the last five years or so. After I divorced, it took me a while to get to the point where I even wanted to, then not everyone out there wants to date a guy who has a kid on the weekends.” Reed’s eyes flashed up. “By the way, I have my daughter with me on the weekends.”
Dakota laughed. “I sensed that. That’s cool. I’ve never dated a guy who had children before. How old is she?”
“Fourteen.” Reed wiped his mouth, tossed down his napkin then leaned back in the booth. “You think it’s cool?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“It’s what broke me and Mark up.”
Dakota wrinkled his nose. “You’re better off. He sounds like a heartless jerk.”
Reed chuckled. “You could say that.” He shook his head as if in wonder. “You’re something else, Dakota.”
“Was he at least really good in the sack?”
“I don’t have anything to compare to, but he was very sexy.”
Dakota put up a hand, taking a moment to absorb the import of what Reed had just said. “Hold up. When you say…nothing to compare to, that means what exactly?”
“Oh.” Reed’s cheeks flamed again. “He’s the only guy I ever slept with.”
Holy Christ. “Why?”
He was kinda being an ass, but since it’d never occurred to him for even a split second to have sex with a woman, he was having a helluva time trying to figure out someone who wanted both men and women.
Reed shrugged. “I was married for eleven years, but dated Serena for two years before that. We began going out in school when we were both sixteen.”
“High school sweethearts? Nice.” Dakota finally took a small taste of the cheese. Processed. Ick.
Reed smiled almost wistfully. Thirteen years of sharing your life together, having a kid. Dakota was impressed. Reed was a good, solid guy. Who I think likes men?
Dakota peeled a grape. “So how old are you?”
“Twenty-three.” He waited for either the fallout of disappointment or the leer at the possibility of sampling young flesh. There was neither.
“You have a clear maturity about you that I find impressive.”
Might as well bring up the big, naked, G-stringed elephant in the room. “Being a stripper seems like a mature choice to you?”
Reed furrowed his brow. “But that’s what you’re doing to help finance your goal of being a professional dancer, right? Plus it sounds as though you use the time on the stage to practice your craft.” Reed flushed again. “I might be reading into what you said, but anyway. It doesn’t bother me if there’s a different reason. I can just tell you’re single-minded in what you choose to do. Flakiness and lack of direction irritates me.”
“Huh. Interesting take. Those same things irritate the fuck out of me too.” Dakota grinned at Reed. “But thanks. You read me right on that too. Stripping is a means to an end.” Dakota trailed his foot up Reed’s leg. “See? You read men pretty well after all.”
Reed held his gaze. “Probably only the ones I feel a genuine connection with.”
Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little heart’s desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share – her adventures as a published author began in 2011. Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the northern Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.
Pride Publishing Author Page: https://www.pride-publishing.com/index.php?route=product/author/info&author_id=229
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authormorticiaknight?fref=nf
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