Second to None

Second to None - Felice Stevens Review originally posted at Sinfully.

Marcus is the last single man in his group of friends and is happy to stay that way. He’s been there supporting them throughout their ups and downs and now he feels them trying to push him to change his ways and find someone just like they have. Deep down Marcus is sad and lonely, but he won’t admit to himself and certainly won’t concede that his friends are right.

Horrible parenting doesn’t come close to describing Marcus’ upbringing. Marcus’ cold, homophobic father is an awful, self-centered man and his mother is living in a fantasy world that revolves around making his cheating father happy, something she has pushed Marcus aside to do for his entire life. The fact that even his own parents never loved or wanted him has cemented the idea that no one else will put him first, so he’s got to do it for himself. He is happy to have his pick of a never ending supply of willing men approach him each night at his club. Giving all of himself to one person so completely, putting them before himself, like both Julian and Zach had done with Nick and Sam, is not something Marcus ever plans to do.

Tyler is a new dancer at Sparks and isn’t going to play Marcus’ games. He knows the man’s reputation and has always made it a point, to the detriment of his dreams, not to trade sex for advancement of his career. Although he’s heard about Marcus being very good to his staff and friends, Tyler can’t see beyond the cavalier manwhore. Not that he has any career aspirations left at the moment, doing what his responsibilities require him to do and working for tips as a go-go dancer. Tyler’s had a tough time of things and the last thing Tyler wants is to be anyone’s charity case or Marcus’ latest conquest. Unfortunately for Tyler, Marcus seems to enjoy the challenge he presents and Marcus isn’t going to let him go so easily, even when it turns out that getting close to Tyler comes with more than Marcus ever bargained for.

Surprisingly, it took me a while to warm up to Tyler. He did not make a good first impression and I was actually thinking he was lucky Marcus didn’t fire him on more than one occasion. Whether that was due to Marcus knowing that he comes on strong, Tyler being beautiful and talented or just Marcus being a good guy underneath the lecherous playboy exterior, he puts up with a lot from Tyler as a new employee. They have great chemistry from the get-go, both when they are butting heads and during the slow build to their relationship. Things really heat up though when the relationship gets physical and it turns out the Tyler also has a bossy, toppy side to him.

There isn’t just the two men fighting their attraction to each other, they are also fighting the ingrained voices in their heads that tell them that they are not worthy or that love, in general is a bad idea. It takes a while but Tyler manages to unearth a vulnerable side of Marcus that even his closest friends haven’t seen and Marcus manages to get Tyler to lean on him for support. There were a few times where I did think these two spent too much time in their heads, but overall I thought they were a great couple, with Tyler really giving Marcus a run for his money. When Marcus finally falls it’s a beautiful thing to see.

Marcus and Tyler face quite a few bumps in the road from outside sources, but it doesn’t get too angsty or dramatic and the situations only served to bring the two men closer to understanding each other. Of course the rest of the men from the series are there to support, irritate and advise them, while a few other of Felice Stevens’ beloved characters lend a hand as well. This is a fine ending to the series, but as fans of the author know, it’s probably not the last we will be seeing of any of these men!