“ Author: J.P.Barnaby / 246 pages „
Jayden Carter couldn't believe his luck. After scouring the ads for room-mates wanted, he finds eventually finds the perfect place. Dr. Ethan Bryant has a lovely home, and he values having a good house-mate over the amount of money he could probably charge for such a lush place. The pair hit it off socially too, and it seems the perfect place to be. Just one thing niggles at Jayden however, and that is the room at the end of the hallway by their bedrooms that is designated as off limits. He manages to ignore it until the evening he spies Ethan escorting a good looking girl into said room. The door closes, and then it strikes him. He can't hear a thing. Not a single muffled sound from the adjacent room, and it strikes him as slightly odd. As he observes this go on a few more times, his curiosity begins to grow. Why can't he hear anything? Surely he should at least hear the murmur of voices? And so he does the one thing he knows he promised not to do. He tries the door one day while Ethan is at work, and when he finds it unlocked, he opens it. Surely Ethan won't know if he just looks, right?
What he finds is beyond his wildest imaginings. He doesn't know quite what to think. He gets along with Ethan and loves living in his house, so he hopes he can manage to not look guilty over what the breach of trust he's committed. But somehow Ethan knows, and the consequences of that open the door to something Jayden never imagined he'd be part of - the world of domination and submission. Together with Ethan and his sub Lexi, Jayden begins an exploration of not only his sexuality, but his very psyche. They are all friends outside of the room, but not lovers in or out of it in the truest sense. But can they truly separate love and desire?
Jayden is a seemingly average guy- except for how closely he plays to societal and parental expectations, he's nothing really remarkable. Hat is, until he takes a step away from the defined straight and narrow path. Both frightened and exhilarated, he takes that first step into the taboo world of dominations and submission. Identifying as a straight male, he nonetheless finds himself craving Ethan's dominance, and while Jayden does have sex with fellow sub Lexi, he also willingly submits himself sexually to Ethan As each scene unfolds , Jayden discovers his personal limits and innermost desires. He begins to feel free in a way he never dreamed of, but is at the same time aware that no one outside of the lifestyle and within the confines of that room should ever find out.
When the unthinkable happens and he is is discovered in a compromising position with Ethan by his sister, his world begins to unravel as he finds he must reconcile his hidden personal world to the rest of himself, and that includes aspects of his life outside of their sanctuary. Battling negative preconceptions from within and without, he also has to contend with confusing emotions and sexual identity. Can he keep his family and still have what he craves? And what about love? Can he have true love within the lifestyle? And about Lexi..as a straight male, it's her he loves, right? But what about Ethan? Jayden struggles to maintain order within an exploding world of possibilities, becoming all too aware that his choices actually do affect others in ways he is only beginning to understand. One may take orders within a scene, but ultimately, one must choose their own destiny, and it is this that Jayden struggles with the most.
Through it all, his friendship with Ethan and Lexi outside of the scenes they play help give him balance while at the same time adding to his confusion. The two very different aspects of his friends' personalities shown during these different times leaves him trying to rationalise his own relationship and desires, without necessarily seeing them as an integrated whole. Jayden saw himself as an adult before this, and chronologically he is, but the events that take place are the real catalyst to him moving into adult relationships as he begins to see beyond himself and really see beneath the veneer people around him hide behind. Even his parents are a revelation to him, as he is confronted with the complex thoughts and emotions they express when his sister calls them with a wild version of events, a version coloured by her own narrow view of sexuality and the shock of how she discovers Jayden's secret. Through it all, Barnaby manages to not demonise anyone, and the characters remain relateable and even likeable all through it, despite how they react when confronted with sexual ideas outside of their own comfort zone. The BDSM element leans heavily towards the Dominance and submission end of the spectrum, with less sadomasochism than one might expect.
Make no mistake, this is no 50 Shades- while I was surprised to find this had also initially begun life tentatively as a piece of fan fiction in the same genre of 50 Shades, it is quite obvious that the characters in this work evolved far beyond their initial inspiration becoming unique personalities with their own social dynamic and the BDSM world is also portrayed much more accurately with sex scenes that positively sizzle. Ethan in particular is a complex person, with his own inner demons pushing him towards a need to control his environment and making romantic relationships difficult for him as he tends to rationalise his way out of them. It doesn't leave him without compassion however, and it is this fusion of traits that make him the master Dom that he is. His reasoning behind what occurs during a scene, his careful preparations, and his care of his subs before, after, and during a scene are well considered and show more than passing knowledge of the scene by the author. This is further borne out by the very accurate portrayal of a newbie to the scene complete with the exhilaration, the confusion, and even the misconceptions that is quickly tutored out. We're left with a well written piece of original erotica with flowing, natural prose, featuring m/f/m pairings in a BDSM setting that is not too harsh an introduction to the world for the uninitiated, but realistic and familiar enough to be comfortable yet also arousingly erotic and mentally engaging for the more experienced.