Title : Leather+Lace
Author : A.B. Gayle
Series : Opposites Attract, Book 2
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary, BDSM/Kink
Length : 304 pages (e-book)
Published : March 22, 2013
Rating : ★★★★
Swathed in chiffon and lace, Steven Stanhope owns the stage as Stevie Tricks, lip-synching the songs of the famous gypsy queen. But after he escapes an abusive Master/slave relationship, the only collar he’ll allow around his neck is black velvet.
After a four-year absence, Steve is ready to reclaim his life and the property he left behind. But is it safe? Definitely not if his ex is still into leather. To find out, Steve appears at a charity night for the local BDSM community, using the anonymity of his stage persona to mask his identity.
Instead of his ex-Master, Julius, Steve finds a tangled mess centered around another Master of Leather, Donato Rossi. In order to unravel their ties to the past, Steve and Don must find common ground and work together. In the process, they learn that when it comes to love, sometimes you have to make your own rules.
Steven Stanhope learns firsthand the saying “where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise” is a big load of crap. Knowing he was walking into a legal and personal nightmare before he went home to Australia would have been good. In Leather+Lace, by AB Gayle, Steve thinks he’s going back home to help a friend open a bar that caters to the local gay community. He’ll be doing his Stevie Nicks drag routine and there will be a demonstration of BDSM techniques from some American guy, Donato Rossi. Steve wants to kill two birds with one stone on his trip home. He wants to get some of his things back from when he fled from his abusive boyfriend, Julius. Steve and Don’s first meeting doesn’t go well, nor do the second and third. The awfulness culminates for Steve when Don is the one who tells him Julius is dead. To make things as surreal as possible for Steve, Don takes him to the house he and Julius used to share. The house from which he escaped. Apparently Julius had gone to the states to learn more about the BDSM lifestyle. He met Don, and his slave Alex, and lived with them for a time. Because holding Steve hostage in his home as a slave wasn’t enough to make Julius a bad guy, he also had an affair with Alex and was responsible for the bike crash that killed both him and Alex. Everyone was hurt as much as possible.
Gabriel is a young man Steve met at the bar. The bar his friend manages that Don actually owns. The bar that will need a lot of work to not be a dump that barely scrapes by. Julius had changed his will and left everything to Alex. Alex left everything to Don. Steve now owns half his own house with Don as the other owner. It’s a nightmare. He really should have opened the letters from his lawyer. But back to Gabriel, he idolizes Don and continually drops hints about wanting to be his slave. Steve absolutely doesn’t want to see a young impressionable kid enter into the same kind of situation he did. And maybe he’s a little jealous. He’s sort of beginning to have quite a few feelings for Don. They also are beginning to have quite a lot of sex. Steve is really frustrated. He loved bondage and was a bit of a masochist before he and Julius entered into the Master slave part of their relationship. Steve wants to do these things with Don and can’t. He’s afraid Don won’t want a vanilla boyfriend. Steve goes on a road trip to visit with parents, think about legal matters, and think about what kind of relationship he thinks he may be able to have with Don. Eventually, all that’s left is for him to go home and see if Don agrees.
Both Steve and Don were so hurt by the loss of their previous lovers as well as their actions. Then they were hurt by the fact their previous lovers had hurt the other. Both men had a world of hurt to work through yet I didn’t cry at all while I was reading the book. I think part of that had to do with all the death and trauma being in the characters’ past. Or maybe I’m hard-hearted, I’m not really sure. Thankfully, Steve’s character was able to keep his emotional scars. Julius messed him up. A couple years away and some therapy doesn’t make being chained to a bed for days an okay memory, nor does falling in love with someone new. Unfortunately, the same holds true for Don. He was betrayed by Alex and refuses to allow himself to be vulnerable to love. He may be in love with Steve and they end up together, but it’s not something Steve will hear for quite a while if ever.
I found the plot to be slightly convoluted and the reliance on Julius as the bad guy almost too much. Ultimately though the story itself made that irrelevant. It’s a good solid story. The things that annoyed me were certainly outweighed by the things I liked. I would have the say the Stevie Nicks references did nothing good or bad for me. If you’re a huge fan of Stevie Nicks you will enjoy this book! Okay, one thing was completely off. Don’s grandmother moved to the States as a war bride during the Vietnam way. How the hell does that work? Don is 35. I’m 38 and was born during the Vietnam War to a Veteran. My grandparents were in WWII. Seriously though, that is my biggest gripe. I really enjoyed the book once I went with the flow and gave up doing math in my head.
**ETA : AB Gayle and Dreamspinner Press were super quick in fixing the “which war?” so props to them!
Rated 4 stars by Faye