Author: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Welcome to The Cage, where you can share the ups and downs of a group of friends as they enjoy a rollicking adventure of sex and love in “the life.”
Being a Dom has always come naturally to Lazar Thornton, owner and operator of The Cage, a thriving adult toy store and meeting place for Lazar’s closest friends, Bran, Max, Otto, and the always flamboyant and fierce Miss Dré. But even the best of friends have different tastes in scenes—and in life.
Good-humored and laid back, but much in demand as both teacher and Dom, Lazar has always run from love. Until Ben Owen, relative newbie to the BDSM world, arrives wide-eyed and eager to learn, and Lazar wants to teach this sub everything he knows. But despite the openness needed for a Dom/sub relationship to thrive, neither discusses emotions. Feeling the sting of unrequited love, Ben isn’t as sure of his place in Lazar’s life as he wants to be. Lazar will need to read his sub’s heart as well as his mind if he truly wants to keep Ben in his life.
Review: The Cage is a store that sells BDSM fetish items and is owned by Lazar Thornton. It’s a place where he and his friends meet and talk. They also meet at a local diner, but as they’re all involved in the kinky lifestyle in one way or another, The Cage is the perfect place for them to talk freely and openly. Or not talk. Lazar’s boyfriend Ben is the newbie in the group and the newbie in the kinky lifestyle. The more Ben learns the more he begins to think Lazar is out of his league. While Ben and Lazar deal with their own romance Miss Dre, Otto, Sherm, Max, and Bran all deal with their romances and relationships and all deal with them in their own ways.
This book was an inter-weaving of five very different relationships. Each one exhibiting some form of BDSM lifestyle. They also ranged from reconciliation, established, closeted, nascent, and first date. As Ben learns more about the group of friends he learns more about various manifestations of kinky lifestyles as expressed by loving relationships. The reader is along for Ben’s education. That’s great for the reader if an education in kinky lifestyles is what you need. If you’re already a firm proponent that kink is what you make of it this book comes across as preaching to the choir. The characters were well developed and interesting, but the format didn’t allow for much depth in any of the relationships. What we did get was a montage of tableaux that beautifully showcased various couples in intimate and loving moments.
I had one serious issue with the book and it involved the character Bran. Despite not having a successful relationship with a woman, Bran maintains he’s heterosexual to the group of friends. Miss Dre does not accept this. The logic at work here is the same as people saying the love of a good woman can make a man straight, or sex with a real man can make a woman straight. Why can’t we just accept at face value what people say of their sexuality? The resolution to Bran’s story was nuanced and well written, but the lack of his acceptance from his gay friends was just as repugnant to me as the lack of acceptance from heterosexual friends and family of a gay person. I would like to stress Bran wasn’t forced or tricked into anything and his story was very nuanced.
There was no single event driving the story of this book. Like any character driven story this one was a bit of a risk. That we had six characters to follow made this one more risky. I don’t think it worked for me. I do like character driven stories, but I was unable to really become interested in any specific character as they were frequently changing and we didn’t get a good long look at the life of any of them. This was specifically about the sexual and emotional relationships of five couples. Not their lives as a whole, but just their relationship and how kink factored into it. I needed more of the men and who they were outside of kink.