by Brigham Vaughn
Series: Naughty in Pendleton #2
Also in this series: Date in a Pinch
Publisher: Two Peninsulas Press
Publication Date: May 21, 2021
Source: Neon Rainbow
I received an advance review copy of this book from Neon Rainbow. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A bad boy mechanic and a kinky accountant: can an indecent proposal lead to love?
Though Forrest Patton looks like a tweedy, uptight accountant, he’s anything but. Underneath the fussy bow ties and love of color-coded spreadsheets lies a man searching for someone to peel back the layers and fulfill his shameful fantasies. Eavesdropping at the diner in town leads him to wonder if the local mechanic might just be the man for the job.
Jarod Keener likes it rough, and he makes no secret of that. But he never expects to be approached with an offer to trade accounting advice for some dirty, risky fun. Always up for a challenge, Jarod dives in headfirst but Forrest doesn’t trust anyone to give him the humiliation he needs once feelings start to get in the way.
When a secret about Jarod’s family upends everything, Forrest will have to decide if he’s willing to give Jarod a chance to show him that he can have love and the kink he longs for.
Embracing His Shame includes: mild humiliation play, small-town gossip, and two men falling in love despite their best efforts.
Content warnings: View Spoiler »smoking, alcohol, shame around sexual preferences (specifically humiliation), outing of MC without consent, homophobia, death of a secondary character’s parent, estranged family « Hide Spoiler
This book is the absolute complete opposite of the first book in the series. While the first was super sweet and sort of, well, as vanilla as you can get with BDSM, this one’s a bit rougher around the edges, though it still has that sweet center. And like the couple in the first series, it start out with a sex-only relationship that morphs into something different.
When Forrest overhears Jarod, the local mechanic, complain to a friend that he can’t find anyone who matches his kink, Forrest is shocked – and turned on – to realize they might mesh very well. And he’s even more shocked when he works up the courage to approach Jarod and offer a deal: he’ll help out with the garage’s books if Jarod’ll help him out with the kink. Jared agrees to a no-strings-attached relationship, but while they may fit perfectly together in the bedroom, handling feelings is something neither man is accomplished with.
“It was usually that he was too rough around the edges for most people. Too hard, too demanding, his thoughts too dark. But it seemed everything was upside down with Forrest. With him, he was too soft.”
The two main characters couldn’t be more different on the surface. Forrest appears to be a strait-laced, bow tie-wearing accountant, while Jarod’s a tattooed mechanic with a reputation for liking it rough. Both, however, are drawn to each other because they haven’t been able to find someone to fulfill their kink needs in previous relationships. Jarod’s marriage ended dramatically when his wife discovered some of his porn habits, and he thinks he’s a monster for his sexual proclivities – after all, his ex-wife and mother certainly think he is, despite the fact that Jarod’s never done anything without full and enthusiastic consent. Forrest’s grad school boyfriend was too horrified to give him what he needed – he likes being hurt and humiliated – but ultimately Forrest decided he needed the release he gets from that more than he needed a relationship. He’s convinced that once Jarod gets to know him, if he starts having feelings for him, he won’t be able to give him what he needs any more.
“For years, Forrest had been sure that he could never have what other people did. That a boyfriend or partner couldn’t give him what he needed. But for the first time, he wondered what it would feel like to really give someone else what they needed.”
While both have their reasons for avoiding a romantic relationship, the inevitable obviously happens. Despite appearances, Jarod’s really quite the softie inside, and while he’s certainly in to humiliating Forrest, he’s also (usually) caring and careful enough to do it in a way that wouldn’t ruin either of their careers. He respects Forrest’s boundaries and he’s extremely clear on consent, but he’s also creative enough – and he understands Forrest enough – to know how to push them. So while you’d expect Jarod to be the relationship hold out, Forrest is the one who’s setting up barriers all over the place. Jarod likes to look down on himself and acts like he’s dumb, but he certainly understands relationships better than book-smart Forrest!
“You’ve been pushin’ and pushin’ to keep me away. But what if you let me in?”
“I’m scared,” Forrest admitted.
“Me, too.” Jarod cupped his cheek. “But I’m more scared of losin’ you.”
As for cons, I have a serious pet peeve with written-out accents, and that’s done heavily with Jarod’s southern twang: -ing verbs are frequently shortened to -in’. It’s very jarring to me and takes me out of the story, which is especially annoying during what should be heartfelt love confessions. I also felt that Jarod’s backstory was much heavier – in terms of content and depth – than Forrest’s.
Overall, I’d give this a solid 3.5 stars, rounded up to four.