Damaged Soul

Damaged Soul - Anne Pine Review originally posted at Sinfully... Addicted to All Male Romance

3.5 stars

Eli is damaged, but he is far from broken. At 21 years old, his past is full of loss, abuse, abandonment and self-destructive behavior. He is now living on his own and with the help of his last foster parents, Matt and Caroline, who are still a strong influence in his life, he has been working to overcome his issues. He keeps an exhausting pace, working at a coffee shop, filling in as a waiter to help out Matt and sketching at night. He is a talented artist, dreaming of one day being able to afford better materials to work with, but at the moment that, along with sleeping and eating is on the low end of his priority list.

At 37, Jack is a wealthy, successful businessman who has a reputation for playing the field. In the five years since he lost his longtime lover and sub David, he has been unable to find someone he want to commit to. When he meets Eli, he has not only an instant physical attraction, but appreciates Eli’s attitude and the challenge he presents. The slight, pierced, Eli is nothing like the men Jack usually goes for. Eli has no experience with BDSM and initially relates the lifestyle Jack discusses to his past abusive relationship, but the more Jack talks, the more Eli is intrigued and the more Jack wants to take care of Eli.

Beginning the first day Eli and Jack meet, this first book in the story covers a two month period and focuses on the relationship, which is intense and moves at lightning speed. Told in alternating points of view, both Jack and Eli’s characters are refreshingly open and honest and the fact that they communicate well allowed me to go along for that ride and suspend my disbelief about how quickly Eli fell into his submissive role. I liked Eli right from page one. Jack can definitely be pushy and overbearing, especially at the start, but while Eli is willing to allow him to direct most things, especially when it comes to sex, he is strong and stubborn and isn’t afraid to speak up.

There were a couple of parts of the story where the author told instead of showed and I felt like I missed out. This is Jack’s first time training an inexperienced sub and the first man he has connected with since losing David. It is Eli’s first experience with BDSM and they jump right into an almost 24/7 relationship. Being told in a sentence that they had an intense scene where Jack finally pushed some limits is not the same as having it play out and getting the characters’ reactions. There were plenty of times where we saw what was going on, but those few key moments when we weren’t did have me wondering why.

This is just the first installment and I am looking forward to the next. While the declarations of love and commitment come quickly, Jack is still keeping parts of his past from Eli and Eli is just accepting that Jack isn’t going to abandon him. The BDSM isn’t a magic cure. Eli still has urges toward self-harm, but Jack provides him with alternative outlets, both by administering pain and with his insistence on Eli dedicating time to his art. Now that they are on solid footing with each other, they are going to have to put to rest their past and those story lines are left open for the next book, including Eli needing to deal with both the abusive ex who won’t go away and the father who is now trying to fit back into his life.

I really liked the relationship that Jack and Eli are building and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow. The story was easy to read and I enjoyed the cast of secondary characters, and would recommend it if you don’t mind a fast moving relationship, with a heavy dose of BDSM.