A Strong Hand by Catt Ford
Nicholas Sayers, needing money for college, takes a job as assistant to infamous photographer Damian Wolfe. It’s just taking pictures, right? Wrong. While Nick has never questioned what kind of man he is or what he truly wants in life, working for Damian during a BDSM photo shoot opens his eyes to all sorts of sexual possibilities, and many of them include the handsome Mr. Wolfe.
Damian has serious doubts about getting involved with a younger man who knows nothing about the BDSM lifestyle, but Nick’s adventurous and humorous approach to new experiences is far too alluring to resist. Although he knows it might be a mistake, Damian takes Nick into his life.
Flirting on the edges of control, submission, and pain excites Nick more than he would have ever dreamed possible. With Damian, Nick learns about his own deeply hidden desires and finds out that relinquishing control doesn’t make him weak, having someone else in control of his sexual pleasure simply heightens it. And the reverse is true for Damian: Control turns him on. So they set out to explore these sensual boundaries together, neither expecting to find love along the way.
This is sweet, touching BDSM story that is really light D/s with a kink for spanking. There are a few uncomfortable scenes with heavier BDSM but these are minor and meant more to help the characters understand their desires and limits rather than focusing on the harder elements of that lifestyle. The writing is decent with some good characters, although the story tries too hard and adds in several disparate elements. Ultimately the sweet, tender nature of the story with an edge of kink and danger will please most fans and make for an enjoyable read.
World renown erotica photographer Damien Wolfe is shooting the catalog of a BDSM toys and accessories manufacturer. His new assistant, Nicholas, can’t help his fascination at the items and men he sees. When Damien discovers Nicholas’ attraction and his own passion incites, the two men begin a sensual journey of exploration and trust.
The story is mostly about Nick’s journey and discovery of his desires and needs. Told in third person and jumping point of view every other paragraph, the focus is on Nick’s education into a new world. There is a lengthy prologue that dumps all information about Damien’s background and sets him up as emotionally and physically reclusive artist. Nick is his hapless new assistant who is surly, accident prone, and combative until a well placed smack to his ass turns the young man entirely around and practically salivating at Damien’s feet. Thus the two embark on an affair that prompts most of the action.
The characterization is decent for Nick, who is rather easy as an innocent young man with no real clue to his own sexuality and desires. He often acts out in minor ways to get attention but once he has Damien’s attention, he snaps back into an almost perfect submissive. Nick is not as complex as he could have been and gets upstaged later in the book by more interesting characters that are briefly mentioned but not developed. However, Nick’s emotional attachment to Damien shines and his slow confidence in himself marks his transition.
Unfortunately Damien is not as well drawn because he’s supposed to be more complex and complicated of the two. Although Damien is only thirty-two, he waivers between a characterization of a much older man and that of a normal, 32 y/o. Damien supposedly has been celibate for 5 years since finding a compatible submissive is too much work. Considering his age and work, this claim is jarring and never is fully explained or backed up. Instead this is used to keep Damien emotionally unattached, making his eventual fall for Nick more dramatic and meaningful. Perhaps it does but this could have been achieved another way. Furthermore, Damien spends the majority of the book lamenting that due to Nick’s young age, he’ll never want to stay with an “old man” (but still very young!). The narrative waivers between casting Damien into the role of a man 45 or so and keeping him young, handsome, and fit. Thus Damien’s entire angst about Nick leaving him made very little sense. It was more understandable that Nick assumed a man of Damien’s taste and background wouldn’t keep anyone for long.
This frustration ties into the bad ending. The ending is supposed to be an intense scene where the two men finally admit their feelings after the entire book (over 300 pages) which is filled with sex scenes and character development. Unfortunately the scene felt rushed and artificial. After all the emotional angst and doubt Damien goes through, he just turns around and says “do you love me?” Uh. He could have done that 200 pages ago and saved all the drama then. This ending had the book screeching to a halt and tacking on an ill fitting epilogue, which is really just a continuation of the previous scene but with sex.
So unfortunately, the book has some serious frustration – such as the horrible head hopping, which would change point of view every other paragraph at the very least or the inconsistent characterization and the distracting side characters. However the story also shines in showing Damien’s insecurity and doubt as a Top. He’s not all knowing and he makes mistakes, just as Nick also makes mistakes. The two stumble and struggle as they discover what works best for them and their needs. Additionally the book is incredibly sensual. Due to the setting of a photo shoot for BDSM related items, the entire novel is steeped in sensuality and sexuality. The characters are always having sex, talking about sex, agonizing over when to have it again or how to have it, or wondering when the sex will end. Sex is a predominant theme throughout the book, which lends an erotic feel that doesn’t ever let up. This will definitely please erotica romance fans. Overall this is a decent book with a sweet, lovely romance with an edge.
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