By Kim Dare
Shy, gorgeous Ellis is eighteen, a recently-out-of-the-closet gay virgin. When his equally gay cousin Harry invites him to share the expenses of a room at a so-called “gay friendly” resort, Ellis figures that it will be an opportunity to make the acquaintance of some other young men who share his orientation. Instead he finds himself being grabbed and fondled by strangers attracted to his boyish good looks. The situation is sufficiently alarming that he starts to wonder whether he might not be as gay as he thought.
Dominant Mitchell Thompson rescues Ellis from the good-natured, drunken attentions of some of the guests and takes the young man under his protection. Although Ellis knows almost nothing about “leather and stuff”, as he puts it, he instinctively craves Mitchell's authority.
Ellis nibbled at his bottom lip until he realised Thompson was frowning his disapproval of the habit. He released his lip from between his teeth. “Sorry...I--” Ellis cut himself off.
“If you have a question, ask it. Half sentences make it sound like you're incapable of complete thoughts.”
“Should I call you sir, too?” Ellis rushed out.
“Would you like to?”
Ellis tilted his head on the side and studied the other man. He was some years older than him, probably in his thirties. With blond hair cut short, he was handsome in a serious sort of way. And, in a way Ellis couldn't define, he looked very much like the kind of man who should be called sir. The ideal held a curious appeal.
“You wouldn't think I was hitting on you if I did?” he checked.
“I believe I'm capable of resisting the inclination.” Thompson's lips twitched as if he was tempted to smile.
“Sir.” Ellis let the word linger in his mouth. It felt nice there. When he met the other man's eyes, Thompson looked amused.
Mitchell does not ask anything from Ellis-- the younger man wears his collar at the hotel only as a sign that no one else should bother him. However, the Dom recognizes the young man's natural submissiveness. Almost without encouragement, Ellis surrenders to his temporary master, allowing the more experienced man to guide him into the worlds of both D/s and gay sex. Although Mitchell originally took Ellis under his wing out of sympathy, by the time their vacation ends he feels a great deal more.
Gay Friendly offers Kim Dare's signature style of homoerotic D/s, focusing on the emotional interactions between the Dom and the sub. She rarely invokes the physical trappings associated with BDSM—spankings, beatings or bondage. There's no overt BDSM activity in this story. Instead, Ms. Dare is mostly interested in trust, obedience, devotion and responsibility. Her sex scenes are intense because of the connection between the characters, not because of the pain or extremity of their activities. Personally I find this take on power dynamics refreshing after reading way too many stories where the authors are obsessed with the physical. Kim Dare understands that D/s can be loving and even gentle while remaining arousing and challenging.
Ms. Dare knows how to get into her characters' heads—and their hearts. If I have any complaint about Gay Friendly, it's simply that the happily-ever-after was too easy. There are no obstacles to Ellis' and Mitchell's love. The fact that Ellis has zero experience with men doesn't seem to matter. This feels rather unrealistic. Of course this is a very short work (less than fifty pages), with little time for complexities or conflicts. Ms. Dare would rather focus, I think, on the developing relationship. But some obstacles might have made the story even more satisfying.
I should mention that Ms. Dare has pledged all royalties from Gay Friendly to the Ty Hafan Children's Hospice (http://www.tyhafan.org/), an organization dedicated to offering comfort, care and support for life-limited children and young people and their whole families. So if you'd like to read a sweet—but nevertheless hot and explicit—M/M BDSM romance and build up some positive karma at the same time, go buy yourself a copy today!