Silken by Isobel Starling: Audiobook Review and Excerpt

Matthew Fisher loved being a dancer, but his ten-year ballet career came to an abrupt end with a knee injury. He had to find a new way to make a living, and luckily, his sister was friends with Annabelle Ramsay-Aiken, only daughter of property magnate Sir James Aiken. She arranged an interview, and six months on the job training saw Matthew stepping out as a real estate agent for Aiken Luxury Lettings. Now, instead of stretching at the barre, Matthew spends his days inspecting the vacant London homes of their rich and famous clients.

Losing his dance career had left a huge hole in Matthew’s heart, and to fill it Matthew began a Tumblr blog dedicated to his fetish for wearing lingerie. He wanted to give his followers the impression he lived a charmed life, so decided to use A.L.L properties as locations for erotic photo shoots.

One of his online followers presses all of Matthew’s buttons, and a long distance, online Dom/sub relationship develops between them. But when the relationship suddenly moves from online fantasy to real life… can Matthew really submit?

N.B – This story contains graphic descriptions of gay sex, BDSM, and cross-dressing

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Matthew sauntered into the large open plan lounge of the corner apartment, overlooking West India Docks.  The tip-tap of his footfalls on polished marble echoed in the clinical, white-walled expanse of the room.  West India Quay was in the redeveloped dockland area of Canary Wharf, in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London.  The area was renowned worldwide as the new financial heart of London, populated by big business and luxury high-rise living.  The lower twelve floors of the block at West India Quay were a Marriot Hotel, and upper twenty-one floors were privately owned apartments.

Bright afternoon sunlight threw darts of blinding illumination across the rectangular lounge room.  To Matthew’s left, there was a seating area that would not look out of place on the set of Mad Men—a low-slung retro black leather Carluccio suite consisting of a couch and two imposing armchairs bisected by a dark teak coffee table.  Natural timber side dressers and occasional tables hugged the interior walls, adorned with modernist stone sculptures, empty vases, and an array of framed pictures charting the growth progression of a man who went from baby to child, to teen and then to his graduation in the images.  Matthew wondered who he was… he was kinda cute!  A series of ostentatiously large, colorful, Damien Hirst splatter canvases were displayed on the walls, and on the opposite side of the room, the dining area faced a view that, on a good day, would lead the eye down river to the majesty of Tower Bridge.

Matthew stepped through the sunlight shafts and shadows on the floor, unbuttoning the gray suit jacket that hugged his torso as he walked.  He pushed the jacket aside, placed his hands on narrow hips, and paused by the window.  He took in the view over the River Thames to the white bulbous tent of the O2 Arena on the opposite bank of the river.  The Thames, as per usual, looked like dirty dishwater yet the expanse of London from high-up in the Docklands skyscraper was surreal.

Matthew let out a long, tired sigh, and then absently stretched his arms above his head, enjoying the feeling of his tight muscles burning and relaxing.  He folded his body and gripped his ankles, stretching his spine.  Then, he straightened, and as naturally as taking a breath he moved into the fifth ballet position.  The bare expanse of marble floor was so seductive.  It invited him to leap and travel sinuously across it.  He turned in a graceful arc on the ball of his right foot, and then took a gazelle leap forward, grimacing as he landed feeling the sharp twinge in his left knee.  “FUUUCK” his loud, frustrated roar echoed in against the high ceiling.  As he bent over and rubbed at his knee he wished he’d worn his knee brace, he knew he was just deluding himself by not wearing it, but sometimes his knee felt okay, and it was good to feel ordinary again.

Matthew felt so betrayed by his body.  It had taken more than a year for him to come to terms with his decision to stop dancing but his heart still yearned, ached for it, and he supposed it would until he took his final breath.  But he couldn’t live on broken dreams with empty pockets.  He knew how lucky he was not to have to walk with the aid of a stick.

Matthew continued, his limp a little more pronounced until the twinge subsided.  He inspected the open plan lounge, noting that thankfully, none of the sculptures or wall artworks had been stolen or damaged since Mr. Martinez signed the tenancy agreement.  A.L.L had been experiencing a few problems with security and the cleaning contractor for this particular building.  It began with below standard domestic cleaning service and then escalated to a series of art thefts.  His boss believed the two things were linked, and so Sir James had found a new security contractor, but the cleaning contractor had a second and final chance.  The cleanliness of the apartment was therefore on top of Matthew’s checklist.

He strode into the bright, streamlined kitchen, removed his suit jacket, and then hung it over a high back stool at the breakfast bar.  He palmed his iphone and logged into the A.L.L. website app to begin his status report.  Matthew took a peek in the refrigerator in case there were any nasty surprises, but the scent of detergent hit his nose, and it was empty, not even a bottle of Evian in the chiller cabinet.  The cupboards contained only dried foods and a couple of cans of soup.  The dustbin was clean, and there was nothing unpleasant lurking in the waste disposal.  Tick.

Matthew headed down the hallway and perused the first double bedroom which had that untouched hotel room vibe about it.  He didn’t believe anyone had even slept there, so nothing to report.  He went to the next room on his list, the master bedroom.  Now, this room did smell like it had been lived in.  The subtle aroma of masculine musk and floral perfume in the air a week after the tenant had departed proved that the cleaner had not aired the bedroom as per instruction.  Further evidence that corners were cut was found in the en-suite bathroom.  Dried toothpaste in the sink, and hair in the shower plug hole.  Tut, tut, tut.  Matthew shook his head.  He would indeed have words with the domestic services manager about this oversight.

Matthew had never met the tenants, Mr. Martinez, or his wife, but a silver framed photograph stood beside the bed on a nightstand.  He picked the frame up and stared at a sun-kissed smiley image of a couple, the man standing behind the woman, his arms wrapped tightly around her slim waist.  Matthew’s brows rose in admiration; Jack Martinez was a silver fox.  He appeared to be in his late forties and had white, gray close-cropped hair and silver stubble clinging to the jaw of a disarmingly handsome face.  His skin had a golden tan, and his eyes were azure blue.  A wide wolfish grin spread across Matthew’s face and his brows arched salaciously.

“Well, well, Mrs. M, your husband is quite a catch”, he said out loud.  He stared at the gorgeous, perfect couple for a moment and wondered if the image was of generic models that came with the frame or if this delicious specimen of manhood, Jack Martinez was real.  He must be real; after all, they’d spoken once on the phone the week before when Martinez gave Matthew instructions on what needed to be done at the apartment when he departed.

Matthew wore a wicked smirk as he recalled the man’s whiskey worn American timbre.  It was the kind of voice that made his balls ache with lust.  God, he really did need to get laid, but that would not be happening anytime soon.  Matthew’s Dom had forbidden it.  That was one of the ground rules of their online D/s relationship.  Neither would take other lovers, and Matthew had given control of his orgasms to his Dom.  He would not come unless Austin82 permitted it, and then the man wanted to see the evidence.  Luckily, the message Matthew had received on entering the apartment had been from his Dom, giving him permission to come that day so he would be getting some relief.  The voice and photograph of Jack Martinez meshed together in his mind, making one hell of an alluring image.  Matthew placed the frame back onto the nightstand.  He knew he would put that image to good use later.

Matthew turned to study the bedroom, which had a classy, oriental infused interior design with accents of cream, black, and silver.  He enjoyed fantasizing about the lives of his clients.  On opening the doors of the slide-robes, he saw a small selection of garments.  The lack of clothing was not unusual as this was not a permanent residence by any means.  There were business and casual clothes for him and stylish feminine clothing for her.  Veronica Martinez was slim, her choices were expensive and timelessly classy, as were Jack’s, just as Matthew had expected for the couple in the photograph.

A seamless pane of floor to ceiling, heat reflective glass acted as the outer wall of the room, displaying stunning bird’s eye views of the British capital.  A king–sized bed overloaded with a scatter of designer cushions atop a black silk coverlet dominated the space.  To Matthew’s right, a door led to the en-suite, and then, to the left, his eyes fell on the large ebony, lacquer work, chinoiserie style dresser that sat opposite the bed.  He ran his finger along the top to check that the cleaner had at least dusted and then placed his phone on the surface.  Matthew had chosen to inspect this particular apartment because it was the only one on his list that day where the clients were a couple.  He hoped he was not wrong about Veronica Martinez.  With a mischievous glint in his eye and a sudden flush of covert guilt, Matthew gave a testing tug on the shiny brass ring handles of the top drawer.  It silently slid open.  He peeped inside, and his breath caught as he exclaimed a drawn out “Ohhh.”  Matthew’s heart swelled.  He saw, to his delight a drawer filled with neatly arranged lingerie.

“All that silk, satin and lace.”  He murmured dreamily to himself.  Matthew licked his lips, and his pupils dilated with the excitement of seeing such a wonderful collection of feminine underwear.  His fingers brushed over the lingerie.  It was all purchased from the most expensive designer labels, Fox and Rose, Agent Provocateur, Bourdelle, and Myla.  Matthew was at once head-over-heels in love with what he saw.  The silk and Chantilly lace garments were red, black, dusky pink, emerald green, purple, and turquoise—all of his favorite colors.  It was like they had been chosen just for him, and not for Veronica Martinez.  He picked up a pair of red lacy French knickers and let the fabric fall through his fingers.  He moaned out loud, and his dick throbbed.  His fingers smoothed over the floral lace design and as he stretched it over the back of his hand, he marveled at the beauty of it.  Matthew bought the garment to his cheek and rubbed the knickers against his clean-shaven skin.  It was so sensual.  The feeling of the soft fabric against his flesh made his suit trousers suddenly feel… restrictive.

Matthew’s interest in lingerie began when he was training in Russia.  He’d loved wearing tights since he was a child, and from the moment he started training in classical ballet he was drawn to being around the girls, with all the froufrou, netting, ribbons, and figure-hugging Lycra.  His girlfriends would let him sneak into their dressing room to chat.  They had no idea that he had an alternative agenda for being there—which was to savor the slow sensual drag and stretch of gossamer on shapely calves and thighs as the dancers pulled stockings over taut flesh.  He didn’t want to fuck any of them, oh no, he’d known from his teens he was all for the boys and got pleasure of a different kind from watching them.  But watching the female dancers dress was a near religious experience.  It was the ritual of dressing, the look of the fabric, the way it enhanced the line and shape of their limbs, and way it stretched and clung to the form that he found so very erotic.  He’d known then he’d wanted that silken fabric against his own skin.

Matthew picked up another pair of emerald green silk panties.  He sniffed the panties, but they smelled of nothing like they had never been worn and never been washed with household detergent.  As he inspected the collection, he discovered that it was, in fact, all brand new, and nothing had been worn.  He found that odd.  Veronica Martinez must be mad to have abandoned this treasure trove of pretties, unworn, unloved.  Whoever she was, Matthew found her lack of respect for the garments a little disappointing, but no matter.  He was in a naughty, dirty mood, he was alone, and there were so many pairs of panties to choose from.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I had not read anything else by Isobel Starling, so her writing was new to me, and this was a fun surprise!

This novella was a little bit of everything wrapped into one story, and some of those bits were things I hadn’t read in any other book previously.

First, I absolutely LOVED one portion of the story for its realism. I won’t say what the mistake was, but the Dom in this story made a mistake, a big one, and with it, his sub didn’t even use a safeword, he literally just left. And the Dom not only admitted his mistake, but apologized, and said he wasn’t perfect. That was so refreshing to read! How often in BDSM romance novels is the Dom portrayed as someone who doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t apologize, etc. This was such a great thing to read, and I actually found myself cheering a little…even while I was sad that the MC’s went through it.

Second, an online D/s relationship, although it may be something that is done quite often, it certainly isn’t something I had ever read about, and I found it fascinating. It allowed these two MC’s to explore their own interests, as they learned from and with each other. Again, so refreshing to read, as it was outside of the box of a “normal” BDSM story.

I loved Matthew. I loved that he owned his kinks, and enjoyed every second of it. It made him sexy and allowed the reader to just enjoy him as a person, as well as a sub.

Meanwhile, sexy silver fox Jack, Matthew’s Dom, knew what he wanted, and was confident enough to go after it. Even when he made his mistake, he owned up to it, and did what he could to repair the damage. And oh my, was that a hot scene later. Whew!

My heart just blew up at the end, Jack’s assistance to Matthew was so heartfelt and loving, and I wanted to just stay with these two. I would love to see more of these two sometime. I feel like there is much more to tell about these two…hint hint…

Gomez Pugh’s narration was well done. I really love it when narrators use accents when they are reading a story. It draws me in so much more, and he did a fantastic job with both his American and British accents. Well done!

Story: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

Narration: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

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Comments

  1. Isobel Starling says:

    Thanks so much for this review. There WILL be more of Jack and Matthew, with another book planned for next year. 😉