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The Good Boy - Lisa Henry, J.A. Rock
4.956 glowing stars

This is amazing and magical and very nearly perfect and I ate it up.

There is a lot of hurt in 20 year-old Lane, his world has fallen apart, he’s been abandoned by his criminal parents, universally blamed for something he didn’t do, and mentally and physically fucked-over by a family ‘friend’. He is also a text-book newly awakened Sub in need of a strong hand. He needs structure, decisions made for him and limitations set; he’s always been this way but he never knew what it was he needed to feel ‘normal’. What he gets with the older Derek is an experienced, gentle yet assertive Dom who can show him the way, who’s willing to give him comfort AND rock his world. Once they work through the initial distrust and anger over other issues, these two move into something truly special. The magic here is in how the authors sculpt two irresistibly likable protagonists and make us care for what happens to them.

It seems that I have to talk about the puppy-play given that it’s gotten much attention and may have the potential to put people off. I’m hoping that this won’t be the case because this story is so much more than that. The play is handled in an almost delicate way --

It is consensual and acted out with love, not hurt in mind. Lane initiates it and Derek, surprised by it and new to it, works to figure out how to give him what he’s asking for and needs. It’s something they both fall into. It is not about ugly humiliation, in fact it adds a frisson of excitement for Lane who is still skittish about but drawn to his awakening darker desires.

It is therapeutic, a means for Lane to open up to trusting Derek. And it sets up one of the most hypnotically erotic scenes that I can remember reading in a long time Derek uses a stiff-bristled animal brush to brush over Lane’s nude body with increasing pressure as dictated by Lane. Here, we learn Derek’s real strength as a perceptive, inventive Dom would you like some hot-sauce with that sex? Yowzer!. He doesn’t stalk about throwing his macho weight around, he’s a man of quiet certainty. Kudos to the writers!

We’re given a great cast of well-drawn secondary characters: Christy and Erin, Derek’s supportive sister and mother; Ferg and Brin, another D/s couple and friends (Brin, also Derek’s flamboyant ex, was hilarious but a little too over-the-top at times, and by the end we’ve grown to love him too.). Rounding out the inmates are a menagerie of damaged animals, residents of the animal shelter run by Derek’s sister. An abused dog name Andy bonds with Lane and a potty-mouthed macaw named Mr. Z adds a lot of laughs. It’s easy to make the correlation between Lane’s finding solace in caring for these animals and his own ‘rehabilitation’ at Derek’s hands.

"Good boy, Derek said. "Still? Lane asked hesitantly. Derek squeezed Lane's hand. "Always."

Earlier, I said nearly perfect -- I have a small nit-pick with the writing... Am I being greedy by wanting the ‘pay off’ between Lane and Derek a little sooner and with a lot less ‘chatter/inner musing’? Hey, this comes from someone who loves drawn out UST and the taut, friction-y, circling mating dance between two people in lust... Here and there, as the story progresses are more patches of that ‘inner dialogue’ or ‘telling’ dragging the flow. Whenever I get to a clog I think that this clever writer could have figured out a better way to package this information...or, just left it out altogether. A little goes a long way, less is more.

In spite of the above-mentioned whine, I thoroughly enjoyed this read, it is seductive, it is crafty and well-crafted. Borrowing from the RL Bernie Madoff ponzy scandal was a clever touch and the character sculpting was simply wonderful. Getting back to another important ingredient, ‘The Good Boy’ has some of the scorchy-est sex scenes to hit my Kindle (I’m talkin’ panties. in. a. twist. Scorch.). Kindle afterglow. Don’t let the puppy stuff dissuade from this sweet, smart, sexy romance.