Christmas is a time for goodwill to all, but Collars and Cuffs co-owner Thomas Williams receives an unexpected gift that chills him to the bone. A Dom from another Manchester club asks Thomas for his help in rescuing an abused submissive, Peter Nicholson. Thomas takes in the young man as a favor to a friend, offering space and time to heal, but he makes it clear he's never had a sub and doesn't want one.
Peter finds Thomas's home calm and peaceful, but his past has left him unwilling to trust another Dom. When Thomas doesn't behave as Peter expects, Peter's nightmares begin to fade, and he decides he's like to learn more about the D/s life. A well-known trainer of submissives, Thomas begins to teach Peter, but as the new submissive opens up to him, Thomas finds he cares more for Peter than he should. Just as he decides it's time to find a permanent Dom for Peter, they discover Peter's tormentor is still very much a threat. With their lives in danger, Thomas can't deny his feelings for Peter any longer. The question now becomes, can Peter make it out of the lions' den alive, so that Thomas can tell his boy that he loves him?
What a beautiful story of a sub who has been completely abused by a someone calling himself a Dom but who is really a monster and the man who regains his trust and shows him how wonderful a safe, nurturing D/s relationship can be. Peter has been abused by his master for years and as he was never trained in BDSM he doesn't realize that what his Master does to him would be considered reprehensible by any Dom worth his salt. All Peter knows is that the dream he had of serving a master, a dream he sees other subs living out, must not be for him. And then he is rescued one evening by a Dom who can no longer do nothing about Peter's predicament...however, the man rescuing him has his own sub and can't give Peter the time or attention he needs. He turns to his friend Thomas, half-owner of a very well-respected club and trainer of subs and Doms alike. Thomas agrees to take in Peter and to train him as a submissive if Peter is still interested in the lifestyle. If not, Thomas will allow Peter to rest and heal in his home before helping him determine what he wants to do with his life.
Peter can't believe it when he meets Thomas...this large, older man is so gentle in his care for Peter and gentleness has not been a part of Peter's life for years. The conversations they have about Peter's experiences open Peter's eyes to the fact that what he has always wanted: a Sir to serve and love who will treat him with respect, isn't a pipe dream but could actually become his reality. Peter agrees to undergo training and slowly begins to open up and trust Thomas. He is amazed at the rules Thomas teaches Doms and the scene where Peter realizes it is the sub who actually holds the power in scenes just about broke my heart. Watching Peter's journey of discovery and healing was absolutely gorgeous--Peter is so easy to love and watching Thomas start to fall was breathtaking. Watching Peter feel so safe with Thomas that he was able to fall in love himself brought tears to my eyes.
This is the first book I have read about an abused sub where actual therapy with a psychiatrist was part of their treatment and it was so refreshing to see a Dom acknowledge that professional help was needed. The physical intimacy between Thomas and Peter was also slow to come about which also made so much sense based on Peter's past experiences. I loved that the author didn't rush that side of things but rather began with emotional intimacy and went from there...when Peter and Thomas begin doing actual scenes, the fact that both characters have worked hard to get to the point where they were ready for them only deepened the impact of those scenes.
As Peter and Thomas begin to fall in love with each other, both are hampered with worries. Peter worries that what he knows about his previous Master's illegal activities will put himself and Thomas in danger. Thomas worries about the thirty year age difference between himself and Peter...he has always trained submissives, he has never taken one for his own. With the help of his friend Leo, and Leo's sub Alex who befriends Peter, these two begin to work through these issues. I loved both Leo and Alex and will definitely go back and read their story in the Cuffs and Collars series. When Peter's former master does make an appearance, both Thomas and Peter will have to take risks to protect each other and put the monster away.
This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish and I look forward to reading more in the Cuffs and Collars series. I know that Thomas and Peter are a couple who will stay with me for a long time and I hope they make appearances in later books. I would love to see their relationship continue to evolve!