Loving the Master

Loving the Master - Lynn Kelling Review originally posted at Sinfully.

4.5 stars

Lynn Kelling has always written characters that have a darkness to them. They are characters that have been put through so much that they have a hard shell to crack before their vulnerability and sweetness shows through. One word I never thought I would use to describe a main character in a Lynn Kelling book is “adorable”, but 18 year old, comic book nerd Shea is just that. He’s been through a hard time the past few years and is on the verge of homelessness when we meet him, but there is no hiding who he really is. He is optimistic, honest, compassionate and craving simple affection and security.

David is seemingly Shea’s polar opposite. At 25 he is a wildly successful businessman and a highly trained Dom (trained by none other than Master Brennan of the Masters’ Circle from Jack L. Pyke’s Don’t… series). He will accept nothing less than complete control over everything in his life. He has plenty of admirers and the pick of any sub at his club, Manse, but he knows most of them only see him for his money and power. The only thing he doesn’t have and can’t buy is someone who really sees and understands him; someone to love and love him back.

When David meets Shea, the awkwardly sweet waiter at a cheesy restaurant, he is instantly taken with him. When David returns again and finds Shea bruised and battered, he immediately takes control of the situation. Unfortunately the safety David wants to provide is compromised in a brutal fashion when his paranoid and even wealthier father, Dorian, finds out about Shea and decides he is threat to his son that must be cataloged and neutralized. After the horror Shea endures at the hands of his fathers’ men, David will do anything it takes to stop his father, even if it means calling in favors from an old friend and mentor.

David has a passion for BDSM and his gay club Manse provides him with the opportunity to practice his craft, training slaves and Masters. As such, if you have issues with some openness in a main relationship, this story may not sit well with you. David is devoted to Shea in a way he has never been with another, but he is also continuing his duties at Manse, with the full knowledge and consent of Shea.

Shea may be young and virginal with a tendency to babble when he is nervous, but he is not a pushover and he is not stupid. Shea is looking for someone to take care of him and keep him safe, but he doesn’t want to be kept. He wants to contribute and follow his own interests even in the middle of this world he never could have imagined being a part of. This, of course, doesn’t fit too well with David’s desire to keep Shea safe, but he does understand and respect Shea’s feelings and position on the matter. I loved the fact that these two men openly communicated with each other. There is no other way the relationship could work and even though things moved a bit swiftly, it all fit and felt natural.

Now onto the sex. Lynn Kelling’s books never shy away from the kink and this is no exception, but there are also plenty of tender and romantic moments between the two men. Shea is a virgin and David has great respect for Shea’s needs. Shea has no real knowledge of the BDSM world and struggles with some shame over his sexuality, but he does have an open mind and a trust in David that allows him to explore his own submission. He submits beautifully and isn’t afraid to speak out. Some of the scenes are quite intense and I was a bit surprised at how quickly Shea seemed to be introduced into the scene, but David’s ownership of the club which is right inside his estate, helped to alleviate some of that concern. I do wish we saw a little bit of David and Shea talking over things or easing into the scene, but it all worked for me in the end.

I really adored David and Shea as a couple and the book had a little bit of everything. Some of the plot may have been a bit over the top, but considering Shea’s superhero worship, perhaps that was fitting. You don’t need to have read either of the other books in the series. This one is actually first in the timeline and completely works as a standalone story. If you haven’t read Lynn Kelling before or were wary of some of her darker stories, Loving the Master would be a perfect introduction for you.