Before You Break

Before You Break - Parker Williams, K.C. Wells Review originally posted at Sinfully.

4.5 stars

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the collaboration between K.C. Wells and Parker Williams, and they are off to another good start in this first book in the spin-off from their popular Collars and Cuffs series.

Wayne and Ellis have been co-workers on the police force and friends for six years. Wayne is openly gay and is secretly in love with his friend, although he is aware Ellis is straight and doesn’t expect anything other than friendship. Unfortunately, Ellis has been on a months-long spiral and Wayne isn’t sure why. Ellis is keeping some secrets from his best friend Wayne, secrets he believes would drive him away if he knew. When Ellis finally snaps, threatening his job, Wayne lays out his options for him: see the department psychologist, let me help you or continue on your downward path. When Ellis finds out just how Wayne wants to help him, by “taking him in hand” and controlling all aspects of his life until he gets his head straight, Ellis isn’t sure what to think, but Wayne is the only person who has ever been there for Ellis and even though it’s a bumpy start, Ellis decides to give in. He’s willing to give it a try, as long as he doesn’t have to spill his shameful secret.

When things start between the men, there was something different here for me, and that was the initial dynamic between Wayne and Ellis. Wayne’s attitude of taking complete charge and knowing what’s right for Ellis might have bothered me (and has in other stories under other circumstances) but the fact that they had an established friendship of six years prior to their agreement made me think twice. Wayne’s not a magic Dom just seeing submissiveness in Ellis’ eyes. The fact that Ellis had always sought out Wayne’s guidance as a friend and co-worker, had capitulated to Wayne’s decisions on things for so long, made this “taken in hand” relationship seem like just another step forward and while Wayne loves and is attracted to Ellis, his isn’t expecting anything sexual in the situation at the start since Wayne assumes Ellis is straight and he respects and values their friendship. As much as Ellis likes the feeling of being taken care of for a change, it’s not an easy position for him to accept and he fights Wayne on it even as he knows Wayne offers just what he has always wanted.

Things eventually change between them, of course (this is romance after all) as Ellis opens up to Wayne in a way he hasn’t been able to with anyone, but it doesn’t happen right away. Ellis has issues courtesy of his awful family and his needing to deal with them is a big focus of the story. Ellis’ parents did major damage leaving Ellis with feelings of never being good enough even while trying hard to please everyone. At first I scoffed a bit, but then realized it was almost as if they’d brainwashed him. As Ellis grows more comfortable with how much Wayne cares about him, he finally starts to take some control of his own well-being. He is also free to explore things he’s repressed and the newfound world of BDSM. I’ll also mention, since it’s not something I find too often, that Ellis is bigger and stronger than his Dom and he has a tendency to be a bit mouthy.

There is still plenty of drama even after it seems like all is going well and the two men are tested with a life changing event. The incident shakes Ellis’ trust in Wayne’s love and devotion, but luckily Wayne isn’t one to give up easily, especially on the man who has become his life.

If you didn’t know, my love of Jarod from the Collars & Cuffs series ([b:Dom of Ages|27878173|Dom of Ages (Collars and Cuffs, #7)|K.C. Wells||47871091]) knows no bounds so I am thrilled that he and Eli are here in supporting roles as the owners of Secrets and I hope that will continue through the series. Jarod is in his element when he is helping and caring for others and with his experience he the perfect character to support some subs new to the lifestyle. Bonus points also for cameos by some of my other C&C favorites, but you don’t need to have read any of those stories to start here.

I enjoyed this friends to lovers story with a side of kink. I appreciated the way the relationship built, as we really got to know the men as friends even as the power dynamics came into play and then saw it continue into their D/s lifestyle. I’m definitely looking forward to more in the series.