Right off, I'll confess this isn't my normal reading fare. But The Reluctant Dom by Tymber Dalton seemed to have stellar reviews, and I like to step into other genres occasionally just to mix things up. Besides, I had to see if 50 Shades of Grey was as good as it got for the BDSM genre. I'm happy to say, The Reluctant Dom is *so* much better on all counts. I was surprised on a number of levels.
The story revolves around Kaden, Leah, and Seth. Kaden and Seth were best friends from a very young age, with Kaden becoming the successful business leader and Seth more the "trying to find myself" type of guy who has gone through three wives. Kaden and Leah have been married for 20 years when they get a horrible jolt... Kaden has cancer, and could have anywhere from two months to two years left to live. He's seen what that did to his father, and he decides he isn't going to get treatment. He's going to live out whatever time he has left, and work on making sure there's someone to take over for him when it comes to Leah. The reason? Kaden and Leah are into a consensual BSDM Master/slave relationship, and it's the only way that Kaden has kept Leah from harming herself due to a traumatic foster child upbringing.
Knowing that Leah will collapse without a firm hand to guide her, they invite Seth to live with them after the collapse of his third marriage. When they reveal Kaden's cancer diagnosis, Seth is devastated... only to be thrown into a whole different reality when they propose his training to become Leah's Master after Kaden's death. Needless to say, Seth in no way, shape, or form wants to be part of this. But they make him promise to just observe and try to understand their lifestyle. It's not a life choice he would have imagined in his wildest dreams, but he knows there's a lot at stake based on his decision, both for Kaden and Leah, and for himself.
I went into this thinking that the characters and plot would be a loose framework from which to hang all sorts of kinky action. Boy, was I wrong. Yes, there is a lot of BSDM-style behavior throughout the book, but it's there to support an even deeper story of love and sacrifice, and all three characters discover more about themselves than they ever expected. Dalton takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster, especially over the last quarter of the book. Kleenex is recommended (no, it's for tears...) It was one of those books that when you get done reading, you have to give yourself a bit of time to decompress as it feels like you just went through the process with the three of them.
If you have problems with books that center around lifestyles that you may not be comfortable with (like in 50 Shades), then don't go here. You may not be able to get past the sex to see the underlying story. However, if you're willing to take a risk to read a great story dealing with a theme you know very little (or maybe a lot... who knows?) about, The Reluctant Dom is an excellent choice. I'm not ready to completely change my genre reading habits, but I would have missed a great story had I not given it a try.