Seth Wilder lost his partner of twenty years to suicide two weeks before a long-anticipated cruise. Cancellation insurance was never purchased, and Seth can’t get a refund. Bryce McFarland, his late partner’s gym buddy, appreciates his predicament, and when asked, agrees to accompany him on the trip. This way, Seth recoups the money and doesn’t have to cancel his plans. The gesture is unexpected but accepted gratefully.
The two men have nothing in common. Seth is a reclusive romance writer, and Bryce is a hard-core Grindr user with major commitment issues. Out of necessity and despite the seemingly insurmountable differences in personality, they develop a tentative rapport. As they begin their journey through the UK, Bryce helps Seth come to terms with his partner’s sudden death while Seth, in turn, discovers the root cause of Bryce’s phobia.
Shipboard romances rarely work. Sensible men resist, sexual tension notwithstanding. But a full moon and late summer breezes lend themselves to the impossible situation, barriers are crossed, and a love affair is kindled.
Seth finds himself alone at an abandoned train station, with no idea what happened, or how he got there. He boards a train, only to discover it’s a special express transporting the recently deceased to their final destination. The conductor tells him he’s having a near-death experience. Seth wonders if it has something to do with his violent boyfriend, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the hell off the train before he actually dies. But when he spots his best friend and secret crush among the traveling dead, the urge to leave fades…
Eli may only be thirty, but he has had enough of pretend submissives. He wants a sub who truly knows how to submit. So when he spies Jarod in a BDSM club, everything about the man screams submission. It doesn’t matter that Jarod has to be about twenty years older than Eli. What does age matter, anyway? Not one to miss an opportunity, Eli moves fast and takes Jarod home with him, without thinking things through. All he can see is what he’s always wanted – a sub who wants to serve.
Jarod spent twenty-eight years with his Master, until Fate took Phillip from him. Four years on, and Jarod is still lost, so when a young Dom takes charge, Jarod rolls with it and finds himself serving again. But he keeps waiting for the shoe to drop. Because there’s going to come a point when Eli realizes he’s a laughing stock in the club. Who would want to be seen with a fifty-year-old sub? And when the moment of humiliation does arrive, Jarod flees. He’d be better off with Phillip.
Despite several missteps, what happens forces Eli to understand that Jarod needs him as much as he needs Jarod. But he knows in order to find happiness, they need friends who will understand. A friend keeps telling him Collars & Cuffs is what they need. Eli finally goes to visit, refusing to risk Jarod being hurt again, and finds everything he’s heard about the club is true. When he takes Jarod, he watches as his sub is met with open arms. As they settle in to their new life, Eli begins to see things differently. And he dares to think he can have it all. Until the phone call that shows him he didn’t realize what he could lose.
Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.
Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.
Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.