Rules to Live By, (Anthology) Various Authors
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Gay Erotic Romance
Tags: Anthology, BDSM, Discipline, Kink (Including Daddy Kink), Bondage, Contemporary
Length: 250 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
Four intimate tales of power exchange, discipline, risks taken, and pleasures earned.
A list of rules to live by.
In Cari Z’s House Rules, jealousy leads Jonathan to break the rules his lover has established. He can’t decide which he enjoys more: his punishment, or the reward afterward. Good thing he gets both.
A lesson in humility.
In The Harder They Fall by Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry, spoiled college boy Tad hires a prostitute, but “Daddy” couldn’t care less about what Tad wants. Instead, he’s going to give his spoiled little boy exactly what he deserves.
A cage that means freedom.
In Master Key by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox, Marquis offers Navin the key to the most intimate of locks, hoping it will help them to prioritize their relationship. And it does—until work and insecurities threaten to drive them apart again.
A spool of rope and a desire to be bound.
In CTRL Me by Anna Zabo, a night out between friends turns hot and tempting when Gabe deliberately pushes Tom’s submissive buttons. Then Tom discovers rope in Gabe’s glove box—and not the type for securing luggage.
Master Key by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox – 3.5 Stars
Marquis works as an architect and has ambitions to rise through the firm. His boss, Silvia, is a workhorse and he wants to do the right thing by her and be seen to be good at his job. This causes problems in his relationship with his partner, Navin, as he takes on anything and everything and “forgets” Navin – he’s late or doesn’t turn up to events or intimate planned dinners. Marquis also wants to be controlled in a relationship, but he can’t voice this to Navin. They’ve been together for well over a year and Navin still doesn’t know Marquis desires more than vanilla in their life.
What he’d needed, what he’d been forcing without helping Navin understand, was to be taken in hand. Dominated. Punished.
How could he have expected Navin to know what he wanted when he hadn’t known what he wanted until now?
Both guys are very insecure and both are slaves to their job or family – Navin, in his family business where he is dominated by his ‘Mummy’ and his brothers, Amrit and Dev, often left feeling invisible. Marquis, taking on anything and everything to succeed and earn praise.
Marquis buys a cock cage in hopes that giving Navin the key will remind him he needs to take their relationship seriously and be there for the (overly) patient and ever-understanding, Navin. He feels it will represent a bond, and once he introduces it, he hands Navin the key to the lock. However, the communication between the two is poor and when their relationship hits a brick wall some better ideas were floated; like actually talking and realising cock-cages, whilst fun if that’s your kink, aren’t the answer. But here’s the thing, Navin turning up at Marquis’ workplace to get him if he forgets about Navin is, well, a ridiculous idea, these guys are old enough to be accountable for their own actions. While I get the thrust of the story, the power/the submitting, can you imagine someone turning up at your work and saying, “You’re running late, again, don’t forget about me?”
A well enough written novella, with a bit of heat, and pleasant, albeit sometimes frustrating, characters. I liked Navin, Marquis needed to prove himself more and the story ended before that happened, although neither MC was abrasive. It ends on what I would call a realistic HFN, and while there was promise I would have really liked some more pages to see ironclad behavioural resolution.
House Rules by Cari Z – 3.5 Stars
Jonathon and Alistair are a Hollywood couple; Jon a writer and Alistair an actor. Jon was a wild child – drinking too much, sleeping around – in his day and is HIV positive. Alistair is currently away and Jon is at home going though the whiteboard checklist of things he has to do every day to avoid agreed-upon punishment by Al. But Jon likes to buck the rules here and there, like making sure he sneaks in a smoke on occasion and not eating so much – the pills he takes make him nauseas. But the rules are the rules and they’re there for a reason, they give Jon a routine and help even when Al is off filming or away during awards season. This time Al is at the Oscars and he and his co-star, Edward, are up for the same gong in the same category. Jon is nominated for his screenplay, but doesn’t like to attend because he has ‘history’ and the press and paparazzi are nosy. However, he’s quite sure Edward is after Alistair and he doesn’t like that which plays havoc with his smoking and the rules. But Al keeps Jon in check with his board at home and Jon has to pay the price if he doesn’t look after himself.
Al turned over and looked at the whiteboard. “So, in the three days I was gone, you managed to rack up five marks in the Vice column, as well as failed to adhere to the rules last night, so there’s my extra.”
This is a nice story, the author blends real Hollywood characters with two fictional ones. The one sex scene was pretty decent, or is that indecent?
Alistair dropped his pants, and Jon’s mouth watered. Long enough to bang against the back of his throat and thick enough to shut him up. Alistair’s cock filled him deliciously, no matter in which end he was taking it. And this was one thing they could safely do raw.
At the end of the day, I struggled getting a good feel for both characters, I just needed more backstory on this pair, and I bet it would have been interesting. More pages would have helped that, but it is what it is and it fit the overall theme of the anthology well. I would read another novella/book by this author as they had a nice technical and stylistic quality to their writing.
The Harder They Fall by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau – 4.5 Stars
Tad is a brat. A mean-spirited, nasty-arsed, twenty one year old college kid with wealthy parents who let him do whatever as long as it doesn’t interfere with them. He lives at college and gets his weekly income from mother and father and as a big fuck-you to his enabling and weak-willed parents, he likes to spend it on “whores.” Especially newbies he can make cry. But tonight he wants to fuck the oldest whore in the brothel and let them know he is powerful. He’s the john, and he can and will shit on them for being so miserable and busted- up they still have to whore themselves out at their age. See? Tad is a human wankstain. But what Tad doesn’t count on is the latest “whore” he encounters. Who, it seems, is waiting for Tad, the known regularly abusive john at the brothel. After being taken upstairs to the highest room possible, an office set-up, Tad is in for a rude shock and an even bigger awakening. The “oldest whore in the brothel” is so much more than Tad expected – suit, tie, spreadsheets and all. He’s going to get respect from Tad, he’s going to be called Daddy and Tad can take it or leave the brothel for good. Tad stays and is given traffic lights as his safe words.
“Be a good boy, Tad.” He smiled. Smirked “Take your clothes off like Daddy says.”
Those words had him hypnotized – almost.
“You’re not my daddy,” he snapped.
“I’m not your father, but tonight I’m you’re Daddy.”
…yes he is!
I love daddy kink and this is a beauty. My only complaint was I felt it tried to apologise for going there – it isn’t really his daddy you know, reader? (I know, but don’t pull me out of it by reminding me.) Tad is misunderstood, a poor rich kid, and while he knows this is just fantasy, it is sooo good for him. Kind of like the time he jumped out of a plane – I also understood that analogy… the first time. But no problems, because I bought the story and the characters. I’m a sucker for the kink, especially if they go hard core with it and it’s well written. The authors did a very good job taking Tad-the-human-wankstain and making him grow into a more likeable character as the novella progressed. And although he still has more to learn, he started to grasp the whole empathy thing. I would love to read more on this pair. And throw Conor in. Oh, yes indeedy! Give me more Daddy and Tad with a side order of Conor.
“Um.” Tad swallowed. “D-Daddy?”
Daddy arched a brow.
“Is it…Am I okay?”
There it was again, that childish need for approval Tad thought he’d left behind. Thought he was too smart to feel, too clever to give a fuck about.
“Hmmm.” Daddy smiled and relief flooded through Tad. “I was just wondering when my baby boy grew up so much.”
CTRL Me by Anna Zabo – 4.5 Stars
Thomas has not long broken up with his partner, Sherri. He’s bi and Sherri couldn’t deal with that… and the fact that he liked a bit of kink. He moved from San Fran to Pittsburgh for work, a new start, and to get away from a nasty Dom, Dominic. Things have been disappointing in the love stakes for Tom, but he has a good friend and co-worker in Gabriel. Gabe and Tom have a lot more in common than they realise, For one, they’re both bi, two, they have fun playing darts, it seems, as well as bike riding. One night, Tom notices blue rope in Gabe’s glove box and wonders if its serving utilitarian or, hopefully, kinky purposes. And the very next day Gabe receives a delivery of a fair amount of rope. Things are getting mighty hot for Tom. Rope. Bondage. And bingo! The rope is for good old kinky use. Gabe is right into shibari, right into bondage. Tom likes those things too, although he’s never been tied up as Gabe does it.
On their second night together, once Gabe has ascertained that Tom is interested in being bound, he lets Tom know that he’s going to a planned party and he’s going to be tying someone up as a demo, could that someone be Tom?
That box. Gabe. Rope. A party.
All of that ran around my head as I rode the elevator down to the garage, holding the box for Gabe.
Tom is nervous after Sherri and particularly after Dominic, so he’s not sure, which Gabe totally understands. But it isn’t too long before one things leads to another and Tom ends up in sexual-yoga-like positions tied to his headboard with Gabe, uh, mastering him in some mighty, MIGHTY sexy ways.
This is a deeply erotic and sexy friends-to-lovers novella. There is a smouldering burn and then bam! there is some hot ‘n’ sexy times with two likeable and smokin’ hot guys. CTRL Me has me looking for more by the author now.
If you like some rules and regs. and a bit of BDSM/discipline, and associated kink, Rules To Live By is a strong anthology. The Harder They Fall and CTRL Me were scorchers and hit the right personal notes for me, but all the stories meshed nicely together to create a good overall read. The average ratings per book gives Rules To Live By 4 Stars!
ARC provided by the publisher in return for an honest review