Puppy Love 2: Building a Family by Jeff Erno
Matt and Petey are the central characters in Puppy Love. They are a representation of an ideal which few (if any) other BDSM romances dare to present. They are a couple who identify as Dom and sub, not merely as a form of sexual roleplay, but as an innate identity. By nature Matt is dominant. He is decisive and self-confident, and he’s a born leader. Petey, contrarily, is shy and timid. He is submissive by nature and craves the guidance, affection, and control of a man he regards to be of superior status to himself.
Those who have experienced and understood the theme of this story recognize that the Dom/sub relationship presented is not one in which abuse or bullying is tolerated or glorified. The story is about the evolution of two very unique characters, one Master and one sub. Based upon outward appearances, one would regard the couple as being rather mainstream. They are not clad in leather. They have no piercings or outlandish tattoos. They do not engage in torturous or sadistic sex play which involves beatings or wild sexual fetishes.
Matt and Petey are a young gay couple in love. They’re a Dom/sub couple. They’re an Owner and his pup.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Although I know the author didn’t take my previous comments about Puppy Love into consideration (well of course not! And also PL 2 was already out by then) but just about all my qualms from the first book have been handled really well in this sequel. Just goes to show you should trust an author. Those of you who enjoyed Puppy Love will fall in love with Petey all over again as he and the other characters grow, change, and really come into their own in this entertaining sequel. There are a few annoying writing contrivances but these are mostly towards the end of the book and the tension developed helps carry the reader to the end.
Matt and Petey pick up exactly where they left off in Puppy Love as they return from their cruise. Here readers should have read the previous book because PL2 doesn’t really stand on its own. You must have read the previous book to really appreciate the characters and their full storyline. But for those that have Petey and Matt meet up with Drew and Alex as everyone is returning from vacation. Their drive back is complicated when they’re involved in a serious car accident and Petey becomes a minor hero. Life is both good and bad for all the characters as they deal with graduation, new jobs, and life changes while their own complex relationships take center stage.
The story is really character driven though there is a fair amount of action that happens. This helps offset the heavier and more dramatic relationship issues brought up, while keeping the pace moving swiftly. In fact the quick nature of the action kept me up reading this until almost 5 am without really noticing the time, I was that absorbed. Petey is again the real star of the series and he grows the most in this book. Whereas in PL, Petey tends to cry and get overly emotional at absolutely everything, here he’s finally maturing and growing. He actively makes himself stop and think about the situation instead of emotionally reacting. His increased maturity allows his natural intelligence and perceptive nature to shine.
His relationship with Matt also matures and becomes very loving and deeply connected. In the first book Matt is pretty spoiled and selfish, using Petey in negative ways. Here Matt not only matures quite a bit himself, but he also helps Petey develop more confidence. He teaches Petey not to be a doormat and to stand up for himself. These lessons are difficult and touching at the same time as Petey slowly begins to really flourish under Matt’s love and care. Both men really love each other and they are well suited. Their kinks may not be for everyone but they work for these two and their relationship really benefits both of them in many ways. There are several scenes showing how deeply committed and involved Matt is, which helps show Petey that it’s not a one sided relationship.
However for all the good things that Matt does in the book, one of the greatest aspects is watching Matt stumble heavily towards the end of the book. He makes numerous serious mistakes that have far reaching consequences and it shakes his confidence and belief in himself. It takes a strong willed and delightfully scheming Petey to turn the tables and support Matt when he needs it the most. These scenes towards the end of the book really highlight the change these two are going through. Also remember they are still pretty young, early 20s, so watching them grow over the course of the series is pretty satisfying and compelling. They’re also not done yet as there is at least one more book to the series. The BDSM nature of their relationship is an integral part of their dynamic, one that both would be incomplete without, but I can also envision Matt and Petey being together even if they couldn’t express themselves that way.
The few stumbles the story takes are mostly due to the writing. Often a scene will happen but then Petey goes onto to mentally recap the scene, almost verbatim. This isn’t so frustrating at the beginning as towards the end. When one of the big events happens, the story then recaps that event four times in lengthy detail. There are several other scenes that are recapped as well which is frustrating. The reader just read those scenes so why the book continues to repeat what happened – without added insight – is annoying. I found myself skimming these scenes entirely since they add nothing.
But really the story is about Petey and his growth. The secondary characters remain very true to their previous characters, even the dreaded and truly slap worthy sister. She is so over the top it sets my teeth on edge when she’s in a scene, especially as the other characters all seem to defer to her and accept her hysterics. She’s meant to be oppositional so that fits the story well but I wish she had been more nuanced and subtle. Other than that, Petey’s friendship with Drew also grows and becomes more even and equal between the two subs. Drew becomes less of a cheerleader and more of a friend.
Overall this is a really good sequel that is absorbing and interesting. If you like and care about the characters, you’ll want to get this and continue with the series. I’m looking forward to book 3.
Get it HERE!