Author ~ L.A. Witt
Published ~ 16th May 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, BDSM
Dr. Mikhail “Misha” Budnikov takes one look at fellow fencer Ryan O’Connor and instantly knows his type. The undisciplined hothead is all ego with no finesse and even less control. In short, Misha’s pet peeves personified. To put the arrogant kid in check, Misha challenges him to a sparring match, which he predictably wins.
Not so predictably, Ryan asks him to be a mentor and show him how to fence. Startled by the moment of humility, Misha agrees.
What begins as fencing lessons becomes something much hotter, and before they know it, Misha is giving Ryan an entirely different kind of education. Dominance, submission, pain, pleasure—at the hands of an older, experienced man, a whole new world is opening up for Ryan.
As the trust deepens and their bond strengthens, though, Ryan retreats because that sham called love left him jaded long ago. Cynical beyond his years, he’s not letting his guard down, least of all for a thrice-divorced man twice his age.
Now Misha has to find a way to crack through those defenses…or accept defeat and walk away from the submissive who might just be the love of his life.
This novel is approximately 120,000 words.
This is an opposites attract romance that starts off with a rocky first meeting on the fencing piste, and quickly morphs into a relationship based on lessons in discipline, submission and just possibly love.
Although Misha was driven to take the cocky, young fencer down a peg when he first showed up at the club, Misha doesn’t need to put on a show. He is a man and a Dom that oozes control. He never expected the aggressive, somewhat clueless young fencer to get so far under his skin. Ryan has so much baggage. He moved across the country to escape his family and find himself. He is hoping to find his own thing in college. Fencing started off as a way to try to show up his father, but he has taken it back up for himself. He didn’t realize how undisciplined he was until Misha showed him up. Ryan talks the sexy, older man into giving him fencing lessons, but their initial dislike of each other paired with their mutual sexual attraction is quite powerful. On top of that, Misha sees the subtle signs of submission and Ryan’s strong reaction to even the smallest praise. They soon find themselves in a “no strings” sexual relationship with Misha teaching Ryan how to submit when he’s not teaching him how to fence. Ryan takes to it beautifully finding something he was always missing out on.
You’d think it would be the thrice-divorced 45 year old Mikhail (“Misha”) who was sour on relationships, but it’s 26 year old Ryan who wants none of that. His now divorced parents have done a number on him in so many ways (they are truly awful people), leaving him unable to trust any sort of relationship. No strings attached sex is fine for him, maybe friendship. Misha is a romantic whose less than perfect past relationships haven’t changed his optimistic outlook on love.
“He was everything I had no business falling for, and everything I couldn’t help falling for.”
The more time they spend with each other, the more the intensity of their scenes build. Ryan is a beautiful submissive and Misha is falling for him, willing to give him anything and everything his heart and mind desires. Ryan has never known any relationship that that doesn’t come with strings attached or manipulative intent and he is constantly waiting for Misha to try to cash in, wondering what Misha could possibly be getting from their relationship. He ignores any sign that Misha truly just wants to make him happy until finally Misha does the one thing that pushes Ryan over the edge.
The age gap worked wonderfully for me here. Misha is the teacher and Ryan the student in all aspects of this story, but Ryan still manages to surprise Misha with his talents and his generous nature. Ryan’s growth and learning to trust and love is the main arc of the story. Misha is steady from the start and his confidence as a Dom made everything that much sexier. He knows what Ryan is looking for and is willing to give him anything he wants to try. Misha’s most creative punishment had me laughing while cringing as even the masochistic Ryan had trouble with it. I’m also grateful that L.A. Witt follows the classic rule of writing that says don’t tease with a gangbang in the first act if you’re not going to follow through. The men communicate beautifully for the most part, except for the one stumbling block Ryan can’t seem to overcome.
This book was almost perfect for me. Age gap, BDSM a bit of hurt-comfort and a teacher-student dynamic. The fencing scenes (a sport I know nothing about) were vividly written and even I had no issues picturing exactly what was going on. There were one or two spots I felt were repetitive, giving us information we already had. There was also one scene we were told about that I would have liked to have seen on page, but these were minor in the overall scope of the story. This was a fantastic love story, with hot BDSM scenes, plenty of emotional moments and a very happy ending. I highly recommend it.
Meet L.A. Witt
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .