Heat Factor: When it’s hot it’s hot
Character Chemistry: They’re both immediately physically attracted, but it takes a while for everything else to sort itself out
Plot: Sulky, directionless new adult ends up figuring out his direction while apprenticing with his dad’s best friend
Overall: If I’m honest, I was only looking for something to study daddy kink romance, so my expectations were not high, but I really enjoyed this book
Poe, a 23yo with a love for graffiti, has just been bailed out of jail by his father when the book begins. Poe’s job is as a clerk at a gas station, so his father, Landon, is bemoaning all the legal fees associated with Poe’s arrest as well as his concern about Poe’s lack of direction/responsible adult behavior. Jericho, Landon’s best friend who owns the tattoo shop down the way from Landon’s garage, recalls how someone gave him a chance when he was an angry teenager on the path to crime and offers to give Poe a shot since he’s recently terminated an employee and has an opening.
Because Poe is 23 and the portion of the brain that manages planning and decision making doesn’t really “complete” development until closer to 25 in most adults, it’s not surprising that Poe initially comes across as a rather spoiled kid who is more worried about the “now” than about his future. He also has ADHD, so doing things that he finds boring just doesn’t work for him. Jericho offers Poe an artistic outlet by offering him an apprenticeship after hearing him talk to some customers and observing some of his sketches, but it still takes a little while for Poe to see a future for himself that excites him. Once that happens, Poe’s best friend, who never approved of the tattoo shop job, starts to cause trouble because Poe should just be doing art for the sake of art and becoming a tattoo artist is selling out.
There are a couple things going on. One is that Poe and Jericho need to negotiate a healthy boss/employee and then mentor/apprentice relationship. But once they get to that point and start to respect each other a bit more, the physical attraction that’s been pretty easy to stave off previously becomes an issue.
Two is sex and romance and the way the romantic relationship intersects with Landon’s relationships with both men. Poe is bi and he already knows that he likes to be submissive, and his dating history is almost exclusively much older partners. Jericho is gay and knows he likes to be dominant, but he’s never engaged in an age gap, daddy/boy relationship before, plus Poe is his best friend’s son, so he tries to keep it professional as best he can. But eventually, after Poe wears him down for a while, Jericho gives in to his desire. With this relationship, they are both able to find sexual and emotional fulfillment that neither had previously found in one partner.
After avoiding Landon for a while, Jericho finally goes out with him and confesses he’s been avoiding his friend because he’s dating Poe. Landon is blindsided and confused, but he does handle the confession in a pretty mature way (no punches thrown), which I appreciated. I also liked that the Landon component touched on the difference between the father/son relationship and the daddy/boy relationship, because Landon outright asked both Jericho and Poe separately if they were in the relationship because they were looking for something that they thought Landon wasn’t providing, and both denied that that was what the relationship was about. This was especially interesting to me because if Landon had overheard some of Poe and Jericho’s conversations, he probably would have thought they’d lied to him about not trying to replace Landon, but it was just a relationship dynamic that was satisfying for them. It seemed to provide a kind of illustration of how daddy kink just works for some people and it isn’t necessarily related to anything stemming from a problematic parent/child relationship. People get turned on by what turns them on and that’s just how that goes.
In terms of the kink aspect of this story, it definitely includes daddy kink, but primarily in terms of a D/s with the age gap relationship. Think stern, paternalistic, bossy, caring. If you’re a reader who’s looking for something more along the lines of a daddy who disciplines a brat or the like, this probably isn’t going to be quite what you’re looking for. I appreciated it precisely because it does separate daddy kink from other kinks. But I guess that makes it a little less taboo, which is what a lot of readers want, so…there.
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