Five years ago, everything went wrong. Braden Kirk and Rafe Jessen’s long-term relationship started unraveling. They stopped talking, fears mounted, then Braden walked in on Rafe and another man, completely misreading the situation. Without giving Rafe a chance to explain, Braden walks out. Out of their home, their relationship, and the game development company they started together in college.
After months of therapy to deal with the attempted rape Braden walked in on, Rafe begins to understand that his dominant tendencies in the bedroom aren’t a bad thing and that Braden’s submission is likely what scared his partner into silence. But Rafe isn’t ready to let go of the man he loves more than life itself. He arranges for himself and Braden to end up on the same charity cruise, knowing Braden won’t let his phobia—terror of vast, deep waters—rule him.
With a plan and twenty-eight days, Rafe is determined to get Braden back, make him see there’s nothing wrong with being submissive, and find a way to get Braden to stay with him when they get home to LA.
Welcome to the What About Now book cruise (tour)! Thanks to Two Chicks Obsessed for welcoming me today. I hope you’ll follow the entire tour. Lots of chances to win a signed paperback copy of What About Now, $10 at Dreamspinner Press or an audiobook copy of Choices!
Each cruise (tour) stop will feature an excerpt from the story related to where the characters were for that day. Check the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to enter your answer to the question related to the excerpt for the chance to win a backlist ebook for each stop.
Today stop is the eighth on our cruise and sees our couple in Moorea, Polynesia. Let’s see what the boys got up to…
Rafe looked up, realizing they’d goofed somehow and ended up on the deck on the outside of the ship. “Oops, wrong turn.” He spun on his heel and hurried back in before Braden could see where they were, but it was too late.
Rafe turned around again to see Braden standing frozen, facing the railing. Rafe knew what he was seeing: miles and miles of incredibly deep water. There were tiny islands in the distance, but they wouldn’t be enough to distract Braden. He wouldn’t even see them. All his brain would register was the water he feared.
Stepping closer to Braden, he touched a shoulder. Terror poured off Braden in waves. Tremors rolled through him, and his skin had turned ghostly under his tan. “Braden, baby,” Rafe said, tugging on him, but he wouldn’t move. “Braden?” Rafe shook Braden’s shoulder, but he didn’t react except to shake harder, his breath coming in panicked pants, eyes still fixed on the water. “Braden! Come on, turn around,” Rafe said, pulling a little harder on Braden’s arm.
When Braden still didn’t respond, Rafe considered whether to just pick him up. But then he wondered if something else might help. He figured it might cause less trouble than if he carried Braden back into the ship like a damsel in distress. That was almost guaranteed to piss Braden off—at himself—but by then, the damage would be done.
Instead, he dropped his voice and leaned in a little closer. “Boy, look at me!” He put every bit of the Dom in him into the words.
Braden’s head whipped around, and he immediately dropped his eyes to Rafe’s collar.
That was better, but his breathing was still too fast for Rafe’s liking. “Focus on me, boy. Only me. Who am I?”
“Sir,” Braden croaked.
Rafe ran his hands up and down Braden’s arms. “That’s it. Good, boy. Breathe with me,” he said, cupping Braden’s face with his palms. “Look up at me, boy, and breathe with me.”
Braden eyes snapped up to meet Rafe’s, and Rafe took a slow, deep breath, thrilled when Braden matched it. “Good, boy. Another.” It took several more before Braden’s muscles unlocked and he slumped into Rafe’s arms. “I’ve got you,” Rafe murmured, rubbing Braden’s back as Braden shook in his arms.
Another few moments passed, and finally Braden straightened. “I’m sorry, Sir,” he muttered, gaze somewhere around Rafe’s sternum.
That was interesting.He hadn’t expected Braden to stay in the sub mindset. Since their scene before Papeete, they’d talked about what they’d done, as well as Braden’s preferences, but they hadn’t played beyond him lightly dominating Braden in bed. Braden hadn’t called him “Sir” likely because he hadn’t used “boy” since that time at bingo. Rafe wasn’t sure how far to push with Braden, so he’d kept it light.
He wasn’t quite sure what to do with this. Did he keep up the D/s for a while until Braden changed things? Or did he try to get Braden out of it now?
He decided it would probably only make things harder on Braden if he made too big a deal out of it. Instead, he pulled Braden into his arms again and murmured in his ear. “I think I’d like to eat dinner in the suite tonight. Perhaps with you naked at my feet and eating from my hand.”
Braden’s breath stuttered, but he murmured, “Yes, Sir.” He hesitated briefly, eyes darting to Rafe’s face, then back down, and Rafe knew Braden was well aware of what he was saying. “Please, Sir.”
Rafe let the breath of relief out slowly. He’d talk to Braden about it later, but he didn’t need to let Braden know right then just how unsure he’d been. Braden needed strength. “Good. Let’s go, boy.” He stepped back, took Braden’s hand, and they moved toward the elevators. The slightest of tremors were still going through Braden, which Rafe tried to counter by squeezing the shaking hand gently. He kept an eye on Braden, but aside from the minor tremble, he seemed to be holding together okay.
When the elevator doors closed, Rafe turned to Braden. “What are your safewords, boy?”
“Strawberry and banana, Sir,” Braden replied, clearer than Rafe expected. He didn’t want to push Braden, who was obviously needing this now, but at the same time, he needed to make sure Braden knew he could stop it. He probably should have stopped it, himself, and talked to Braden, but he still wasn’t sure that was the best course of action. In all the times he’d helped Braden through his phobia, it had neither been this serious, nor involved D/s.
Rafe took another slow breath, pushing that aside for later. He wouldn’t harm Braden by doing this, and in the end, that was what mattered. “Very good, boy. When we get into the room, you’ll strip and put your clothes away. Then take two of the bed pillows and pile them on the floor by the table.”
Thanks for reading! Remember to keep up with the whole cruise for a chance to win at each stop. And each entry will give you an opportunity to be entered to win one of the three big prizes!
I normally do not read books about second chance love. Not because I avoid them-although I will admit I have because quite often they are too angsty for me, but more because I always have a hard time figuring out why their love didn’t work out in the first place. What makes someone give up and just walk away?
But when I read the blurb on this it was very clear what caused the split (although finding out later there was more to it, of course), and I thought “Oh, a BDSM, which I love, and they are in a situation they can’t get out of” and I jumped on it. Boy, was I wrong…in a good way. 🙂
What you find as you go through the book is that what really caused their separation was lack of communication. They simply stopped talking to each other. We never really find out why Braden stopped talking, other than he had listened to his stupid friend Paul, but since they are men, often that in itself is enough to keep from communicating.
Braden, once he goes through counseling for the attempted rape, and finds that he is a Dom, he knows that he needs to not only get Braden back, but help him to realize that his is a sub. That in itself is an undertaking, since Braden really has no concept of what BDSM entails, other than the always thought of whips and chains.
Braden’s plan was actually fairly well thought out…start easy, friends, move to lovers, and then hope that since Braden is in love with him still that they will be able to find a way to move forward with what he felt would be necessary to both of them, a BDSM relationship. I enjoyed watching how he worked through each stage, realizing that things may not go as planned, and working through how to fix it from there.
Hella hot scenes, both without and with the BDSM. The author was able to realistically portray an entry into BDSM. Nothing is more frustrating than reading a BDSM book and finding that one of the two is new and the other just jumps in and “shows them what BDSM is”. No. Just no. Show people that they need to read on it, work through limits, have discussions, and consent before anything is done. (There is a scene where that somewhat crosses the line, but as they had had a previous relationship of unspoken domination, I didn’t find it uncomfortable.)
When all was said and done, I liked the flow in Rafe’s plan, and how he put it into place. I’d hoped to see a bit more progression in Braden’s communication, but since he had been stagnant in his life while they were not together, it isn’t surprising that he hadn’t. I would hope that after the defining incident towards the end that there would be help for him, just as Rafe was able to find help for himself.
After I was done, I went back and looked, because there were two characters who showed up on the cruise, helping Braden realize he needed to open his eyes, and with the relationship, I assumed it was from a previous book, and it was! So, I will be heading back and reading Beautiful Boy, and finding out how Mal and Kyle end up together. 🙂
4 pieces of eye candy
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Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.
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