While new couple Tide and Lance spend time deepening their relationship and further introducing Lance to the joys and vagaries of being a sub, established couple Tyrone and Bran discover that they still have a thing or two to learn as well.
A new job finds Bran run off his feet, and a visit to the eye doctor leads to the discovery of a brain tumor. Bran is terrified. He strives to be the perfect sub for his beautiful master and sees the tumor as a personal failing as he tries to handle every last phone call, e-mail, and text that comes in, no matter how early or late. When Tyrone finally finds out about the tumor Bran’s been keeping a secret, he realizes he’s been taking his sub for granted, and he works to rediscover his boy and their relationship. Of course, that’s easier said than done given that Bran’s job is taking up all his time and he would rather pretend the tumor just doesn’t exist than actually deal with it.
It’s going to take all of Tyrone’s prowess as a master to help guide Bran through these troubled waters.
Creating A New Space
In the Iron Eagle Gym books, the place itself is an important aspect. While The Perfect Sub follows The New Boy and visits the same characters, subsequent books will have mostly just the gym to link them, with small cameos from the stars of previous books. This means that the gym itself needs almost to be a character itself.
The problem is that I don’t want to info-dump what the gym looks like, especially in a book like The New Boy, where the majority of the action takes place away from the gym. The gym does feature more in The Perfect Sub, which allowed me to describe it a bit more, to use more of it as the setting. Again, though, I don’t want to just dump a description of the entire place in the middle of a scene. As a result, the place slowly takes shape over the course of all the books.
It’s like the reader is looking at it with a flashlight, seeing it piece by piece and over time, a full view of the gym can be quilted together.
It’s an interesting challenge, building a new place that in many ways defines who the characters in the books are.
Review by Cat Clontz
Continuing where The New Boy left off, The Perfect Sub is centered around established pair Tyrone and Branan, with TNB’s Tide and Lance serving as the primary peripheral characters. Ty and Bran are happily in love, and Bran’s ability to organize the world around him has garnered him a position of authority in the Iron Eagle Gym. The pair also acts as ambassadors for the gym at various events, and they must follow strict eating habits in order to maintain their physiques, something that causes some struggles. Unfortunately, Bran has horrific headaches that send him to the doctor with his new best friend Lance, where he learns he has a tumor pressing on his optic nerve. Swearing Lance to secrecy, Bran’s options regarding treatment are shoved aside so that he can continue to be The Perfect Sub. Even though Ty knows something is going on, Bran’s refusal to share could have catastrophic results.
This story touched me in a multitude of ways. Tyrone’s love for and devotion to Bran are palpable, as are Bran’s for Ty. However, Bran’s insecurities about his physical appearance and resultant overall attraction as he ages, as well as the potential fallout if the other subs’ gossip-mongering proves to be true, are an accurate representation of the inner feelings a lot of people have about getting older. Will I still be loveable? Will he still want me? Will he think he can do better? Will I be left alone and heartbroken? My heart wept for Bran for not being able to fully embrace Ty’s love, as well as for Ty in that he was completely unaware of his sub’s devastating inner monologue.
The premise of the story is solid – Bran trying to be everything to his Master to the point of ignoring his own physical conditions, and the struggles of the two men who, even after having had a solid relationship, are still learning about each other. The pacing drove me bonkers, but that is due to my own impatience and is absolutely no reflection on the author – it is written beautifully. I really enjoyed how strong the chemistry between the pair was even though it was an established relationship. There was zero doubt of their attraction to each other, and the physical scenes were smoking hot!
Watching the growth of this pair into a stronger whole while getting sneak peeks into the continuation of Tide and Lance’s relationship was an enjoyable experience.
Rating: 4.5 stars
You must read this!
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Often referred to as “Space Cowboy” and “Gangsta of Love” while still striving for the moniker of “Maurice,” Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and pursuing the Kama Sutra by channeling the long-lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to Chicago.
A long-time writer of complicated haiku, Sean is currently attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate-spinning and soap-carving sex toys.
Barring any of that? He’ll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.
Publisher and Distributor of Gay Romance Novels, Short Stories, and eBooks Publisher and Distributor of Gay Romance Novels, Short Stories, and eBooks.