Title: Masters and Boyd
Author: S.J.D. Peterson
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Masters & Boyd
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 144 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: A surprisingly sweet story which details how two men, whose marriage is failing, make steps to repair the damage and discover some new things about each other in the process.
Carrick Masters and Edward Boyd have already found true love—it’s the happy ever after that’s eluding them. Between Carrick’s job as an orthopedic surgeon and Ed’s career as a defense attorney, they have hardly any time to spend together, and what time they do have seems to be poisoned by resentment. Carrick and Ed know they need to refocus to make their marriage work, but they seriously need more than a spicy once-a-week date night to get them back on track.
I was keen to read this book because I like stories which detail a relationship in crisis and the ways that the couple either try to pull back from splitting up or are reunited in some way. This book surprised me a little because I was expecting something quite angsty and emotional, but instead got a rather sweet tale with a pair of admirable and very likable leads.
The book begins with a short prologue which shows a very spicy D/s sex scene between our heroes, Carrick Masters and Ed Boyd, then the story moves two years into the past and works forward to show how the men got to the point in the prologue. Two years previously the men were at a turning point in their relationship. They had been married for three years and were still very much in love. The physical attraction between them is still smoking hot, but they are finding it increasingly difficult to find time to spend with each other. Carrick’s job as a surgeon, and Ed’s job as a junior partner in a law firm seems to be eating up all their time, leaving nothing for each other. As you can imagine, this is leading to a certain emotional distance between them. The story charts how the men try and try again to fight for their relationship.
What I particularly like about this book is that this isn’t an easy path for the two men. They try several different ways to make their relationship work, and when something isn’t successful they try again with a different approach. This led to a series of highs and lows in the story which worked within the context of the story. There’s something rather admirable about two men who work so hard to make things right between them, even when it would be perhaps easier to let the marriage go. I found myself cheering them on all the way.
Another thing I liked was the way that both men had high pressure jobs. This is the main cause of their problems but it meant that they are both in similar situations and, with prompting, can see the other man’s point of view. It reminded me again why I love the equality of an m/m pairing. It also works because we get the points of view of both men and see their concerns and fears over the breakdown of their marriage. The fact that the men love each other comes over very strongly, even when it’s also mixed with resentment or annoyance.
Those readers who may be slightly concerned about D/s subplot to the story shouldn’t be. It’s very tame, and is just one method the couple use to help with keeping their marriage alive. I rather liked these scenes because, rather unusually for a D/s story, it shows a couple who start along the D/s path together. Plus I thought Ed’s feelings about his previously unsuspected submissive side a rather sweet mix of embarrassment and daring.
The story is very much focused on the main pairing and as a result they exist a little in a bubble. We hear some of their past and how they meet, and we get a little about their families, but other than that I did wish that we got to see them in a wider context. Much of their time together is spent in a number of sex scenes or talking about their problems and I wanted to see more scenes where they just relaxed or spent time with friends and family. I think that was my main niggle about the story.
Overall, I enjoyed this novella. It wasn’t as heavy or angsty as I thought it would be, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I was happy for the characters when the book finished, and also quite pleased that there looks to be the possibility of an offshoot of the story in the pipeline. If you’re looking for an easy read, with sympathetic characters and plot which leaves you with a smile on your face, then this would be a good book to pick up.