Reviewed by Tori
Don’t is an intense erotic romance M/M suspense that centers around a young man whose abusive past is being slowly revealed when he begins to receive messages from his past. Jack uses BDSM to control his dark impulses of OCD/ODD. He plays sub to the man who saved him and offered him an outlet for his pain. When he begins to receive these messages, Jack finds himself slipping back into his destructive ways as the two men who love him most try to stop his descent into madness and possible death.
Don’t takes you on a fantastical schizophrenic ride through pain and pleasure as you are sunk deep into the world of BDSM and follow Jack’s journey from sexual pain and pleasure to love. Dark and seductive, you find yourself slowly falling in love with Jack as you learn of his past and present. Though Jack subs for his Master, Grey, he’s not a true sub. He is a switch that helps to train other Doms. The rigid structure and rules helps Jack with his destructive impulses. When he meets Jan, he finds himself wanting more than just sexual release. He wants a relationship with this man who appeals to him on all levels. As Jack attempts to facilitate a relationship with Jan, his peccadillos come into play causing strife between he and Jan, and Grey steps into with a contract for Jan and Jack. For one week, Jack plays sub for Jan. This sets their relationship on a destructive course as Jan is NOT a Dom and doesn’t understand the rules and nuances when engaging in such a relationship. When Jan makes a dangerous mistake, Jack’s already frayed nerves explodes in a tidal wave of jealousy and pain and we see him run headlong into danger. Jan and Grey struggle to hold on to Jack but the damage has been done and now they can only hope that Jack will come back to them and the life they all want.
This was not an easy read for me. I am not a fan of pain and humiliation, regardless of the consensual nature, and it took me out of my comfort zone at times. Though uneasy at times, the fast pacing and a strong storyline will hold you hostage as you maneuver through a labyrinth of twists and turns that would make Machiavelli stand up and take notice. Don’t will take you through an emotional wringer. You will laugh, cheer, rage, and then exhale in relief once the pain finally resides. It will break your heart and rebuild it in the blink of an eye. Scorching chemistry leaves you panting for more as these three men battle for sexual dominance and relief. The characters are all well developed and richly defined. You will pray for their salvation and HEA, even as you plot their deaths for some of the decisions they make.
Jack, of course, was my favorite. A gorgeous strong man who vulnerabilities and past speak to you in a way that has you wanting to wrap him up and protect him from the world and those around him. Though given the tools he needs to survive by his Master, you are made aware that he has a hard time existing in the world. The very tools he needs will leave you feeling battered, bruised and there were more than one instance where I wanted to jump in the book and shield him from the pain I knew was coming. Jan and Grey I had a harder time liking. Grey, a master Dom who owns a club that trains other Doms, is a dark secretive man whom we aren’t given much insight into beyond what Jack tells us. The brief times Grey speaks his mind, his secretive nature is reflected in his dialogue. He is not a man to explain his reasons to anyone and while it is self explanatory as to why he is that way, it leaves you somewhat mystified by his actions. Jan kept me on pins and needles. While I liked him overall and understood his reluctance towards a relationship with Jack, I also felt he laid his own fears and issues on Jack and the resulting pain made me antagonistic towards him a times. The main plot of the story is mind boggling in its layered duplicity and the suspense will keep you firmly buried in the book until the very end. I can’t really expand upon it much more without spoiling.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I did have a few problems with it. Grey and Jack’s inability to speak plainly and explain their wants, needs, and desires is frustrating. So much could have been avoided. Then, the fact they give Jan all the power of a Dom when he plainly didn’t understand it was shocking. His actions are distasteful in certain scenes. When his ignorance causes him to do some things that made me want to bang his head repeatedly against a wall, I was at my wits end with him and wanted him gone. Grey steps in to help but his way of helping wasn’t appealing nor understandable to me. It seemed his own needs interfered and once again, Jack is the victim of the outcome. At that point I wanted them both gone. Yet, Pyke is able to dig deep into their emotional psyches and while you aren’t pleased about what they did, you understand why they did the things they did. Pyke uses it all as a strong lesson to us and the characters.
The ending is fraught with action and danger and leaves you trembling at the outcome as we learn the reasons behind the messages. We are offered a small HFN at the end though I would love if Pyke were to revisit this relationship and let us know how and if it all works in the future.
Don’t is an appealingly dark and emotional MM erotic romantic suspense that addresses the world of BDSM and those who choose to use it as a respite in their turbulent lives. We see that pain and pleasure can co exist and that sometimes the harder the journey is, the greater the rewards.
Overall Rating: B