Title: Against The Rules
Author: A.R. Barley
My Rating: A-
Genre: Erotic Romance (m/m)
Series: Boundaries #2
Main Characters: Kelly and Ian
Release Date: June 2016
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic
There's only one problem: Kelly is a student, and Ian is a teacher.
Wow. We got to meet Kelly in the first book in this series, and I knew he had issues, but I didn't realize just how broken he is. A.R. Barley did a fantastic job showing his pain and grief through this story. Kelly broke my heart, but thank goodness he found Ian when he did...before he got seriously injured which is exactly where he was headed.
Kelly was the hero in the first book. A responsible RA and senior on campus, he found Jesse and put him in with Nick, the big, bad, gay bouncer who could make the abused sophomore feel safe. There were hints in that first book that Kelly had some ghosts to exorcise. Kelly lost both his parents over the summer before his senior year in college. While he's dealing overall, his grief is powerful stuff. When it gets to be too much he tries to escape through kink...kink that he really doesn't know enough about to be playing with. But he NEEDS the escape. It's the only way he can sleep. That's where Ian finds Kelly...about to get seriously hurt in a scene.
Ian is a Dom, not looking to get involved with a student. As a professor that wouldn't be good, but he can't walk away from Kelly's obvious need and vulnerability and a relationship between the two develops. But Ian's identity as a Dom has issues, too. He has a history which makes him second guess himself about the choices he makes with his untried sub.
Overall, I really thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was hot and sexy, but even more than that the relationship is based on a mutual need and respect that I enjoyed reading. Kelly's backstory is tragic and my heart wept for him. I wish that Ian had had the time to really delve into his back story with Kelly and I wish there had been better communication between the two about BDSM and exactly how it all should work. I don't feel like Kelly was informed enough about safe and consensual and what exactly that all means. He was simply searching for a heavy emotional outlet and that is so dangerous. While all of that was brushed upon, I wish that someone had really set him down and laid it all out (and maybe that did happen at the end off the page...I know there was mention of talks with Chi-Chi's friend...but as a reader, I would have liked to have seen that happen on the page.)
I liked where the story went and how everything was sorted in the end...the house situation made me very happy. There were a few minor niggles through the story, but overall this is one that I would definitely recommend to others because I did enjoy reading it a lot. I loved Kelly and getting to see his relationship evolve with Ian pushed all my happy buttons.
Note: this book was a five-star read all the way for me, until a scene at the end. I won't talk about specifics because I don't want to post any spoilers, but something about how out of control things got just made me very uncomfortable as a reader. I know that both characters realized the danger, too...after the fact. And the characters are supposed to be human...flaws and all, but that just took things a little too close to the edge for me...away from consensual BDSM to abuse and I dropped my rating a star because of it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.