Aftercare, BDSM Erotica and LGBT Contemporary Romance by Tanya Chris
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I feel like making some kind of grand pronouncement that I shall never again let “not my kink” stop me from reading a book. That may not hold up for long or beyond this author, but the feeling is so there. I’ve read some of Tanya Chris’s other work, and she can always be relied on to craft round characters with sympathetic histories and motivations. They have grown up conversations, rather than descending into chapter after chapter of stupid misunderstandings that could be cleared up in a few sentences. Any possible conflict that might arise from a lawyer dating a client’s family member is thoroughly discussed and made acceptable through that discussion and understanding on the part of everyone involved.
The legal drama is also good. Rather than being a mystery wherein anyone in the cast must find the real murderer, the story focuses on defending Syed so that he isn’t blamed for a crime he didn’t commit. It certainly matters who did it, but things aren’t unrealistically wrapped up in a pretty bow that assumes the murderer must be caught to ensure a happy ending. At their best, the courtroom and prep scenes reminded me of watching Boston Legal, which can only be a good thing.
Of course, my favourite part is the romance and particularly Aayan’s internal struggles. He’s got a lot of baggage, from the need to reconcile his sexuality with his religion and family, to accepting his own desires regarding things like pain play. He isn’t immediately ‘fixed’ by sex or love, and he doesn’t deal with it all by himself, either. He has a wonderful support network in his family, which includes his ex-wife. Everyone talks to everyone, and it’s glorious. There’s a lot of trust and love here.
While I found Aayan’s character arc to be the most engaging, Garrett wasn’t left to flap in the wind as a character. He’s a bit more self-confident and self-accepting, which I loved, but he’s still mourning the death of his husband, three years gone, and is understandably reluctant to start dating again, let alone in a relationship that bears similarity to the one he had with his husband.
For all that this is a pretty short book, it feels just as satisfying as a longer one. It’s tightly written, the pacing is fantastic, and there is no wasted time. It’s a sexy love story with a lot more to offer than just steam, and I can’t recommend it enough. Even to people who don’t count BDSM among their kinks.