TITLE: THE GROOM WORE NOTHING AT ALL
AUTHOR: Hunter Raines
Novella: 18k words
Details: Part of the Brand Me Series
Received through Love Romances
Kindle / Own
Matthew Owens is as straight laced as they come, or so it would seem. He is a successful lawyer with a reputation to uphold. He is also deeply in love with his fiancé, Joe Khalousi and on the surface it would appear that Joe is as respectable as Matt is. Except that while Joe is an accountant he does the books for a strip club, a detail Matt prefers not to mention to his colleagues, friends and family. Just as Joe’s tattoos are kept well hidden unless the two men are on their own.
It is the evening before Matt and Joe’s wedding and much to Matt’s horror his friends decide to surprise him. Instead of a quiet dinner followed by a few drinks they are taking Matt to a strip club, where they have a very special surprise planned for him.
When Joe’s employer all but begs Joe to perform as a stripper for just one night, Joe finds it hard to refuse. His boss is also his lifelong friend and desperate. It is only just before he goes on stage that Joe finds out he’ll also have to perform a private dance for an unsuspecting member of a bachelor party.
Neither Joe nor Matt knows their worlds are about to collide. When the lights come on and all secrets are revealed it is make or break time for these two men. Is the love between them enough to overcome the differences or are Matt’s hang-ups about respectability going to end their marriage before they’ve even taken their vows?
Let me start by saying that this is a short and rather sex driven novella. While we do get to know Matt and Joe it is really only in the context of the 24 hours or so this story spans. So we discover that Joe is a bit of a bad boy; tattooed, working in a sex club and rather dominant. Yet, he isn’t completely one dimensional because it is perfectly clear that he cares deeply for Matt. He’s prepared to cover up when he meets his partner’s friends, family and colleagues and goes out of his way to get in touch with Matt before going on stage.
Matt was, for me, not as well established as Joe. For most of the story he seemed to be unsure of what he wanted, needed and should be doing. I couldn’t help wondering if he should be marrying at all if he wouldn’t allow his future husband to be himself around the other people in Matt’s life. Having said that, Matt’s ambivalence about Joe and their relationship did make the moment when he gives in to his feelings and shuts his mind up, all the more powerful.
I did have my doubts about the final scene in the book. I can’t and won’t describe it since I don’t believe in spoilers, but do need to say that I wasn’t convinced that what was described there is really possible, never mind advisable. Still, it was a beautiful way to end story.
There were other parts of the book I really enjoyed. The hot phone call between Matt and Joe was a wonderful way of throwing the reader straight into the action and I loved the way Joe discovers the delights of and the power derived from stripping while doing his friend and boss a favour. I was less convinced that Matt, being the rather stuck up person that he is, would really have reacted the way he did. But, again, it did make the story a hot delight.
I don’t want to sound negative about this book. It is a well written story; it captures the reader’s attention right from the start and the smooth writing and intriguing story make sure that attention never wavers. And there were two sentences that took my breath away:
"The way I need you frightens me to the core. The way I crave your body, your cock, every part of you...It sometimes makes me wonder if I've lost myself to you."
"When you fuck me, I have no doubts about anything. I'm exactly where I need to be."
Overall I would say that this story is as at least as much about the act of lovemaking as it is about the actual love and relationship between these two men. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but I wouldn’t have minded reading a little bit more about the emotions that drive the characters. As a description of one man’s sexual liberation this story worked relatively well. I’m not convinced that anybody would make a complete turnaround as quickly as Matt does in this book, but I liked the idea and enjoyed all the heat between Joe and Matt. It is almost a shame this story was as short as it was. I can’t help feeling that more words would have turned this nice story into a fascinating book.