Problem with damaged-goods stories is that it's always about some disingenuous, trembling flower of a person who needs fixing, and the harder the writers can hit you with how bad the character's life is, the better.
It gets to be a steady drone in your ear, you know?
It's just, goddamn, authors: know the tipping point. Giving a character every possible vulnerability known to humankind isn't actually deepening the characterisation. And writing the other character as being attracted to the hurting woob in spite of
their spiral of misery is a quick road to nowhere as far as I'm concerned.
The most intriguing part of the story was a throwaway one-liner that explained what Derek was getting out of it: wholesale, committed trust -- and yeah, okay, I get how intoxicating that could be. But really that was a very small pause in the unrelenting wah-wah that was Lane and Lane's issues and Lane's monologues and Lane's traumatic past.
Round and round it went, circling back to the same things that just kept getting more and more gratuitious. Lane is vulnerable, Acton was a shitbag, Derek is relentlessly patient: dudes, we discovered those things in the first 50 pages
. Slapping extra detail on isn't going to cut it if I'm supposed to be co-journeying down the narrative.
On the plus side, the kink is well-written; I liked the transition from puppy-play (which I thought was very appropos for the part of the book it was in) to the other D/s stuff they moved on to. I liked that it went from non-vocal submission to a place where Lane could articulate things. It was just ultimately frustrating that the authors could handle that progression so well and didn't seem to know how to apply the same principles to the plot.
Two and a half stars, I guess. Whatever. I'm unenthused but props for the hot spanking/brushing scene and the macaw was undiluted hilariousness.