I may have gotten a touch longwinded with this one, sorry about that.
Soft Focus – Reno MacLeod & Jaye Valentine – M/M Novel
The story opens with Ethan, a photographer, finishing up a month long photo shoot in the plains of Kenya. Upon his flight home he wakes from a nap and takes note of his seatmate’s reading material, which happens to be a BDSM magazine (BDSM = Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism). Besides being a photographer, Ethan is also a writer of gay erotica so the subject of BDSM is intriguing and so he peruses the contents of the magazine. Flipping through the pages he happens upon a rather stunning creature named David Turner, an expert in the area of BDSM. Contemplating the usage of BDSM in his next novel, he decides to contact David to see if he will act as consultant for the new novel and the two decide to meet at an upcoming BDSM convention close to Ethan’s home.
There are three main characters in this book, Ethan the photographer, David the Dominant and Kiyoshi his submissive. The plot entangles all three into a lover’s tryst, but don’t think it’s each for his own. There is a little naughty deception on the part of Kiyoshi that makes for one hell of a sex scene but Kiyoshi is a bit of a pain slut so the deception isn’t meant to be hurtful for David. Most of the story takes place at the BDSM convention where David is hosting workshops on various subjects. Ethan is there as an observer and to learn as much as he can for his pending novel. Of course, Ethan’s role as observer quickly becomes much more than that and you’re not ever quite sure just where this is leading, which is nice. Too many romance novels follow a very predictable plot line (boy meets boy, boys immediately fall in lust, boy breaks boys heart, insert conflict, boy takes boy back but THIS time it will be different, the end). There is almost no predictability here. I say almost because this is a HEA (happily ever after) story so of course, there is some predictability. It’s the fun of how we get to that ending that makes the story so great.
Of course, every story has to have some conflict in it and I thought I could predict from where that conflict would arise but I couldn’t. I won’t ruin that part for you of course, but let me tell you, my stomach was in knots the closer and closer we got to it. Yes, you know it’s coming but when it arrived, it was not how I thought it was going to be and totally took me by surprise. Well played.
I had a few minor issues with the story that mostly stem from Ethan. I think the story would have benefited had the authors delved more into Ethan’s life in the beginning. We learn later on how lonely and unfulfilled he is and you can see he is searching for something. I think upon his arrival home from his trip, it would have been nice to play out the return home to his empty house and lonely lifestyle. I want to feel what he’s feeling and I didn’t. I was also a bit confused about his sexual preference until much later in the story. I had no idea if he was experimenting with his sexual preference, if he was gay, if he was bi. The only other “issue” I had (and it’s rather humorous and probably just me) was that I could not for the life of me hear Kiyoshi’s voice as described. His voice was a “husky bass” and no matter how hard I tried, it just wasn’t happening so I heard him how I thought he should sound but I’ll keep that to myself so I don’t influence your interpretation.
So what did I like about the story? I absolutely LOVE Kiyoshi. I love everything about him; his looks, his personality, his submissive nature that doesn’t come across as weak. I love his interaction with Ethan and their intimate moments together are hot, very hot. I like that this book is about a three-way relationship (yes, this includes three-way sex but it’s beautifully done). Also, if BDSM isn’t really your thing or you’ve never read a story with it and are curious, this has the perfect amount of all of the elements. Really just a taste so even a BDSM novice isn’t going to get lost with the terminology or what is happening. If you are looking for hardcore BDSM, then this won’t satisfy that need.
This story is written by two men, which I think is reflected nicely in the sex scenes. There’s something different about how they are written, which feels a touch more realistic and I don’t feel like I’m reading recycled sex scenes that feed me the same information over and over again. I know how sex works. I want to know how YOUR sex works. I want to feel like I’m reading something I shouldn’t be reading, that I’m there watching. It’s my naughty nature and luckily, this story fulfills my requirements.
My recommendation? Buy it. It’s hot. The storyline is interesting, the sex is hot yet new and there’s enough sticky sweetness to satisfy the hopeless romantic in you.
Plot = A
Characters = B+ (Kiyoshi is perfect, Ethan needs more back story, David is a little too mysterious)
Sex = A+
Overall Grade = A-
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