Length: 50,000 words approx.
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Design: Winterheart Design
Eldridge Cristoff worked hard and rarely played, always leery of letting himself go after the humiliation he suffered at the hands of his college boyfriend. Best friend Isabella Catana, submissive and lover of Johnson Petri, invited him to a night at an upscale BDSM club, Club Rebellion-owned and operated by Johnson and his trio of friends. All dominants.
Dalton Peters has never collared his own sub nor had the desire until he met Eldridge. Dalton was immediately taken with the skittish man, deciding to make it his mission to release Eldridge from his sexual prison.
Slowly Eldridge realized the world he was meant to be in. A loving man and master at his side; he discovered submission was not a weakness but a true testament of his strong inner spirit.
With Dalton's careful guidance, Eldridge had no choice but to give into his desires and heart, allowing Dalton to dominate his body and soul.
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Eldridge parked his car, popped a wintergreen breath freshener in his mouth, and headed toward the entrance. He walked up to the nondescript, solid black door that had no peephole, nervously wiped his hands against the leather pants, and rang the bell.
The building was located in the swankier section of Philadelphia and sported its own parking lot, which was a rarity in the city as most establishments utilized city parking garages or the street. From that, Eldridge surmised that the place had been doing very well. By the layout of the parking lot, he could tell the area used to house a building that had been torn down to create the space.
He shouldn't have been sweating in the outfit he wore. Eldridge was told -- no, ordered -- to wear his black leathers. They were soft as butter to the touch and so skintight his package was outlined. He also wore a white close-fitting muscle shirt and a jacket. He'd tried to get underwear on; even a jock, but the pants were so tight that any seams showed through, so he elected to go commando. He couldn't believe that he'd been talked into the outfit. He'd bought the leathers as a joke for a party he'd attended. They'd been very expensive, so Eldridge never threw them out. But he never thought he'd be wearing them again. And definitely not to a club.
He waited less than twenty seconds after pressing the illuminated button before a very large man in blue jeans and a black T-shirt opened the door. After stepping over the threshold, Eldridge looked up and noticed the camera above the door. He handed the bouncer his invitation with the club's logo on it -- a raised CR in black with a muted gray picture of a flogger in the background.
The tattooed gentleman nodded and said, "Good evening, Mr. Cristoff."
How in the hell would he know me? I've never been to the club before. Although they did have his picture on file from the background check that the club had performed before sending the invitation.
The bouncer, Sam, according to the embossed name on his T-shirt, pointed to the next set of double doors and told Eldridge to go right in. But not before placing a red band on his wrist emblazoned with the word Guest.
Eldridge was amazed he'd heard nothing from the other side; not a sound. The walls must be soundproof. What the hell have I gotten in to?
Red leather covered the surface of the double-access, and Eldridge felt like he was walking into an alternate universe. The problem was, he had no idea what universe he'd ambled into. At first glance, it looked like any other club -- people sitting at the bar, tables, and booths while talking, laughing, and drinking. Then he got a better look at the clientele. Men and women appeared in various stages of dress and undress. He tried not to gawk, but it was difficult. While heading to the bar, he spied a woman attached to a long chain by her nipples and casually strolling with a man holding the other end. Shit.What the hell have I gotten into?
The club was beautiful and sleek. An artist would say the straight lines and dark, muted colors enhanced the desired atmosphere. Almost everything was leather -- sofas, chairs, barstools, even the edge of the bar. The color scheme was black or white with gray or subdued yellow accents. The lighting was low but sufficient to give a secure and homey feeling. Mirrors and abstract art adorned the walls. Eldridge didn't understand the point of abstract art, but from what he saw, the dÃ©cor went perfectly with the club.
"PiÃ±a colada. Nonalcoholic, please." He leaned forward and spoke to the bartender. He loved a fruity drink, and that one was his favorite. Chunks of coconut and bits of pineapple. Was a piÃ±a colada clichÃ© for a gay guy? He didn't care.
As he took his beverage, Eldridge turned around in hopes of finding Isabella and her boyfriend. He spotted Issy waving to him before he'd even completed the turn and walked toward the couple. The two were comfortably ensconced on a white leather sofa with Issy perched on Johnson's lap and her head tucked under his chin. Eldridge stopped in his tracks. The couple looked absolutely beautiful together and completely content.
Isabella hadn't had an easy life prior to meeting Johnson. Afterward, it took time for the Dominant/submissive thing to run smoothly. Their late-night talks had given Eldridge an earful regarding Issy and Johnson's relationship. He knew his friend had truly found peace in her life, whatever the lifestyle may've been.
He made his way to the couch where they were seated and could see what appeared to be a stage. Actually, there appeared to be three raised zones lit with various degrees of lighting. The center one was subdued, but the flanking areas were lit. One sported what looked like a large X-shaped structure. If Eldridge remembered correctly, Issy had told him that it was called a St. Andrew's cross. A woman was attached to it and was being flogged by a very large man. Eldridge was too far away to hear any of the sounds coming from the woman, but if her expression was any indication, she was enjoying herself very much.
As Eldridge leaned down to greet Issy with a peck on the cheek, he noticed the man sitting on the far end of the sofa. Yum. Scary. Dominant. It was easy to surmise based on the way the man carried himself even in a sitting position and the way he was dressed that he was probably a Dom. Once Issy had convinced Eldridge to visit the establishment and after he'd filled out all the necessary paperwork, he'd perused a few sites on the Internet so he could at least know the difference between a Dom and a sub.
The club sported the lifestyle, as Issy liked to describe it. It was a way of life that for some unknown reason Issy felt her bestie needed to explore. Issy was a submissive when it came to her home life. At work, she was a total go-getter that took a stance on designs and implementation. And she bossed around even the largest men. But in her domestic life, she allowed Johnson to rule the roost; from Eldridge's perspective, anyway.
The only problem was, Eldridge didn't know if he completely agreed with the lifestyle. How could a person give that much control to another? Although, if Eldridge really, really, thought about it, the idea did spark something inside him. He was always in control at work, but sometimes he wanted someone else to take the reins. He wanted to relax, but it scared the hell out of him to allow someone else to rule.
Eldridge wanted to sit at the feet of the man at the end of the sofa, which completely threw him for a loop, and he immediately locked the thought away in the recesses of his brain. The last time he wanted to sit at a man's feet, he was told that he was depraved and sick. Damn, Ned had done a number on him. He'd done unimaginable things to him. Ned had turned out to be sick in his physical and emotional treatment of Eldridge. Not that Eldridge desired to be physically hurt, but he did crave more. As confused as he was, he didn't know what the more was. Isabella thought she knew what he needed.
He kissed Issy on the cheek and shook Johnson's hand.
"El, this is Dalton. One of my partners in the club." Johnson spoke as he pointed to the man at the far end of the arc-shaped sofa.
Eldridge crossed over to stand in front of Dalton. Dalton stood and extended his hand in greeting. The grip was strong and solid. His eyes raked Eldridge up and down.
El supposed he was a good-looking guy. At least that's what Issy had always told him. She called him man-pretty -- not completely masculine and not necessarily feminine. Man-pretty. At times, he wasn't sure if that was an insult or a compliment. He'd always known he was gay. When their classmates were looking at the opposite gender, Eldridge always looked at the boys. He loved the hard and delineated lines of their chest; not soft mounds that protruded and got in the way. Girls' breasts, yuck.
His family knew he was gay. He'd come out to them in his early teens. His parents were supportive and accepting even though it probably wasn't the lifestyle they would've chosen for him. He never brought boys home as dates, so his parents were fine with his homosexuality as long as it wasn't flaunted in their faces. Sometimes Eldridge felt very lonely, but at least he had Issy.
He wasn't the biggest, tallest, or most talkative in their current circle of friends. In fact, when he wasn't in the boardroom and high-strung from all the intensive work he did to keep his clients rolling in money, he could've been classified as a wallflower; reclusive. Eldridge didn't mind going out for a drink or two with Issy and Johnson or his coworkers, but he very much preferred to be by himself.
Finding the right man to date was hard. Eldridge didn't know how women were on the prowl all the time. His introverted personality made contacting a stranger difficult. But there had to be someone out there for him, didn't there?
Eldridge gauged the man before him with rapt attention. Damn, he thought as he tilted his head back to get a better view. Large was the first word that popped into Eldridge's mind. An imposing figure, Dalton had to be at least six-feet six-inches tall. El wondered if the size of his cock matched his height.
His pants became tighter than they already were, and his face heated as he continued to stare from beneath his lowered eyelashes. Hair so blond that it was almost white hung past his shoulders, held back with a leather thong. The strands looked silky. But what really drew Eldridge were his eyes -- cobalt blue, piercing, and the kind that could look straight into a man's soul. Eldridge shook his head as if coming out of a fog and composed himself.
That was someone Eldridge would want to get to know better. Eldridge didn't even know if he was gay. There was no way someone that large and masculine could be gay.
Okay, maybe he was stereotyping but he was most likely a Dom to boot. Some woman would be very lucky to land this fine specimen of a man.
But Dalton held Eldridge's hand just a touch too long for a casual handshake, and something sparked briefly in his eyes.
"Nice to meet you, Dalton."
4 out of 5 (very good)
Eldridge's Release is the first book in the Club Rebellion series, but it almost feels like it should be book two. Although Johnson and Issy being together is what gets Eldridge to the Club, I would also love to hear more about them and how they got together.
Although this is mainly low-angst, Eldridge does have enough angst in his past to deal with. The relationship with Dalton moves at the speed of light, as is often the case in novellas. That does mean that there is not much in the way of character's history, or connection as the two of them move forward, but still, this is a good read, and definitely a series I would like to continue with.
With no spelling or grammatical errors to disrupt my reading flow, I have no hesitation in recommending this to those who enjoy insta-love in a fast-paced novella.
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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Evelise Archer is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is a new-found lover of tea, and don’t look in her office because what you find may astound you. She currently has twenty tins of tea leaves just waiting to be brewed for her drinking pleasure. She is bilingual, lives in one of the original thirteen colonies, and is a lover of the cold weather and snow. It’s a safe bet that you may find her on the beach in the autumn and winter, but rarely in the summer. She’s been married for over thirty years to a loving man who puts up with her obsession to clean—she currently owns three vacuum cleaners—, read, and spin a tale when the voices speak to her. When she’s not in front of the computer, search her out in the local gym.
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