Josh Keller never thought he’d host a wedding reception—his kink club is a place where he tends bar and chains willing men to the padded wall in his private room. He also never thought he’d see the love of his life again. When both happen on the same day his life will never be the same.
Pax Dupont never stopped loving Josh, not when they fought and broke up and not during the fifteen years they spent a thousand miles apart. Coming face-to-face with the man he left behind is a surprise, but learning Josh is part owner of the club intrigues Pax enough to share his own love of silk, lace, and domination.
Will Josh and Pax put past hurts behind them and admit their feelings still run hot, or will Pax’s attempts to dominate Josh break them up for good?
Warnings: This book contains a brief scene of violence and a hero in peril, mentions of past abuse of a child, grief over the death of siblings, a man who loves the feel of silk and lace, and one who thought he understood his own kinky nature.
He went in search of the grooms. He’d seen them arrive, heard the cheers and congratulations from his post behind the bar, but waited for the energy to settle before seeking them out. He caught sight of Eoin’s dark red hair near the cake table and smiled. It figured they would be there—as the man who served them probably half of their meals, Josh wasn’t surprised that Wes wanted to get at the cake before sampling the savory dishes.
The grooms had both been at the monthly meeting that morning to have pictures taken with the wedding cake. Wedding photographers are busy in the summer and one of the guys Eoin works with had a friend who squeezed them in.
A perk of that was the gal had two weddings to shoot that day, so she couldn’t stay for the reception. The downside, all the guests were encouraged to snap candid shots and tag Wes on Instagram with the pictures. Josh wasn’t camera-shy, but he didn’t exactly love the idea of having his face plastered all over social media. He had Facebook and Instagram accounts to show off his blades and support fundraisers for various LGBTQ youth activities, but as far as he knew, his face wasn’t there.
He approached the table and had just rested a hand on Eoin’s shoulder when he heard someone say his name. The voice sounded familiar in a way that made his throat tight, but he turned to look anyway.
Josh froze. Standing in front of him, radiating charisma, was a sleekly-muscled man with the perfect amount of scruff surrounding his full lips and dark hair that nearly reached his ass. Rock star hair that looked like it had spent days in a braid only it grew out of his head like that. Josh knew because they had grown up together, had spent the first seventeen years of their lives joined at the heart.
He should have known that at some point his high school sweetheart would return to Oregon, but he hadn’t thought in his wildest dreams that Pax Dupont would show up at his club.
At least he seemed as thunderstruck as Josh felt. If Josh hadn’t been panicking inside he might have found it amusing, seeing Pax speechless. It hadn’t happened much as far as he knew. Maybe never. But at that moment Josh was too busy holding himself back to be amused by anything. The feelings warring inside him rooted him to the floor—he wanted to run and hide but also to grab Pax in his embrace and never let him go. Neither seemed like decent options. Running would only draw attention to the drama, and he’d given up the right to touch—let alone embrace—Pax a long time ago. He pulled himself together as best he could and tried to act natural.
Small talk, that’ll save me. What do people talk about at a wedding reception?
“How do you know the grooms?” Josh covered his relieved sigh with a quick sip of his punch. Falling back on etiquette, on the rote give-and-take of small talk, had gotten him through more than a few social occasions. He’d done a lot of listening and learning in the years since he’d met the other club owners. If panic still hadn’t been on the table, Josh might have been proud of himself for remembering the question and using it as a shield, proud of himself for keeping his voice level and even pleasant.
“How do I— What? I haven’t seen you for half a lifetime and that’s what you want to know?”
“This is a wedding reception. It’s Wes and Eoin’s day.” Josh leveled a stare with absolutely nothing behind it but a pleading hope that Pax would let it go, wouldn’t try to have the conversation he seemed to want. At least not right there, in front of the wedding cake with the grooms coming up beside them. The area surrounding them had grown quiet and Josh saw heads turning in his peripheral vision, neither of which helped him find more words. “How do you know them?”
Pax sputtered for a moment and then said, a little too loudly, “Eoin. I work with Eoin. At the clinic.”
Josh nodded. He’d exhausted his ability for small talk, it seemed.
This is a true second chance romance, and what I liked about it most was that it was very realistic. These two men have loved each other for the entire time that they had been apart. Never wavering from that, and honestly never finding another man to love during that time.
In addition, their breakup reasons…completely relatable to that age range. When you are 18, ready to take on the world, anything small in your path seems insurmountable, and you are selfish, unable to find compromise. That is exactly how these two men ended up on different paths, and found their way back so many years later.
Josh’s path was definitely not one that you would normally see forged (hahaha little inside reference there) for someone of his age, being handed a large wad of cash for someone to whisk his mother away to another country, but it allowed him to find what he needed to do in life. Finding his kinks…well that turned out to be waiting for Pax.
Meanwhile, Pax had no idea he had kinks. He forged a completely different path, and I will admit I was very curious how he ended up in that particular area of work, as it definitely would not be something most people think of as a career path of choice. However, he clearly was passionate about it.
It took a bit for these men to get out of their own ways, and communicate enough to find their way back to each other, but it was very well done, and seemed perfect for them.
**There was one scene that was very difficult for me, especially as someone who lives very close to the area where George Floyd died. (Don’t worry…small spoiler…nobody dies!) However, I did have to read it slowly, because it brought up some frightening moments.
Well done second chance romance
4 pieces of eye candy
Charley Descoteaux is the author of the Buchanan House Love Stories. Book One is a USA Today Must-Read Romance.
Charley has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through a single day without stories.
Charley also writes under the pen name Charli Coty. Under that name you’ll find LGBTQIA+ fiction that’s a little different but always has a happy ending.
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