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Morgan Harcourt;Laylah Hunter;Thea Hayworth;Gryvon
Submission  - Chris Owen, Jodi Payne 3.5 stars

I’d call this BDSM 101 -- that’s the plot in a nutshell -- how a really good D/s partnership can benefit and enhance the lives of two people who are so inclined. Noah needs and has been searching for a firm, trustworthy hand and Tobias is a dom-artiste with a need to control. Both are likable and interesting characters as we get to know them, the layers pealing away slowly.

What has me confused in Submission is how the authors choose to deliver the story. There is a curious formality in how they describe scenes of intense sensuality, eroticism, intimacy, and tenderness between Tobias and Noah. Despite the connection they are intent on brokering, their partnership is detailed in an almost clinical way. The crisp voice and very articulate dialogue between them also lend to that feeling of distance, working against drawing me into the story. So there is a persistent feeling of detachment, a looking from the outside in at the action taking place.

At around half-way the story does begin to warm up as the guys work out their issues and a new playfulness, understanding, and sense of trust enters the relationship further endearing them. Noah has to work through his extreme masochism and deal with his jealousy about Tobias’ continuing connection with a previous sub and lover. There is also a warm, sweet scene where Tobias, missing his sub, calls Noah at home one weekday evening -- their meetings have been limited to weekends only -- just to talk and hear his voice. There are some very steamy role-playing scenes that the two think up for entertainment. The guys work hard against the writing style to pull you into their deepening connection and as they seem to be falling in love.

In the end, I feel fondness for Tobias and Noah and know their journey will stay with me. While this is the first in a series and the story could easily end here, I’ll be returning to check up on how these two sweethearts are doing.