“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” ― Harvey Fierstein
Author: Sean Michael
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages/Word Count: 202
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Johnny diMarco is a spoiled, rich brat who has made his way through almost every Dom at The Hammer Club. None of them can handle him. Even Oliver has tried and has sadly had to admit defeat.
Dolph Waters is a newcomer to the Hammer, but he’s been a Dom at a club up north for quite a while. When he hears about Johnny, he’s intrigued and agrees to meet the sub and give it his best shot.
It doesn’t take long for Dolph to realize that Johnny needs far more than a simple blistering spanking, the sub needs attention and intense focus from his Dom. The more he gets to know Johnny, the more Dolph falls for him and wants to be the one to give Johnny what he needs. His biggest obstacle is Johnny himself who has decided that BDSM is a lie, one he isn’t interested in anymore.
Can Dolph convince Johnny that they can not only be friends, and lovers, but also Dom and sub? Or is he doomed to have his heart broken?
Review: If you are not acquainted with Sean Michael’s Hammer series then fear not, as the latest title in the series, Deeper, can be read easily as a standalone. However, you should know that the series has a distinct format to it that the author rarely deviates from and has built the series successfully on over the years. That format can lend itself to some rather kinky BDSM and often produces some very hot man on man action to boot. While this novel, Deeper, contains just a few passing scenes of what some would consider rather tame BDSM, there is nonetheless that overall feel to the entire story. So let’s begin there–with the gist of the story that was not already covered in the lengthy blurb.
Johnny is a rich boy that’s been held on a very short leash by his brother and father. While worth millions, the only way that he can have access to the fortune is to play by their rules: no shaming the family, no public demonstrations of the fact he is gay, no body modifications such as piercings or tattoos, and the list goes on and on. When Johnny does cross the line and dares to have a boyfriend, the family swiftly moves in, pays off the potential “embarrassing situation” and reins Johnny back in. Johnny is miserable and, therefore, acts out and is essentially a rich spoiled brat to everyone he meets. But in reality he is chasing that place where all the demons inside that continually tell him he is worthless can be silenced. He found it only once–the first time he did a scene at the Hammer, a private BDSM club, and has been trying to repeat the experience ever since with disastrous results. You see, Johnny’s first inclination is to run when things get tough and so he does just that. Luckily for him Dom Dolph Waters has a pair of arms just waiting for a bad boy to nestle into and make a home.
When I mentioned above that there is a formulaic feel to the Hammer series, I was not speaking out of turn. These books typically pair a tough but loving Dom with a wounded submissive. Deeper is no exception. However, what sets this series apart is the way in which the author weaves the various story lines together and has the Hammer club be the central character in all the books—thus giving us that sense of family who help carry each other when needed. It also helps that this series allows us to see characters with issues that many, if not all of us, have grappled with at one time or another in our lives. For instance, Johnny really suffers from feelings of no self-worth. We get continual glimpses of his self-loathing every time author Sean Michael puts Johnny’s internal dialogue on the page. He not only doubts himself but the motives of others as well. The real heartbreaking truth of this character is that he expects others to abandon him and often tailors his behavior in a way to make it a reality. He pushes people away and hides from them and for the first time, he has met a patient man who will not allow it. Dolph is written not just as a Dom who will bring this recalcitrant sub to heel but as a man who seeks to really set his submissive free to understand their needs and learn that it is all right to be both strong and willing to please. The dynamic interchange between these two has a very real depth to it and is written in such a believable fashion that you cannot help but long for their partnership to be a success.
The combination of these two men was really lovely to read, and Sean Michael did an excellent job of keeping them from falling over into the saccharine. There was ample sex as is par for the course in this series, but it was well done and fit into the novel easily. I didn’t feel that sex drove the story line; rather, it augmented what was a good story overall. However, I must say that the ending was the minor hitch in the road for me. After such a huge buildup and being painted as being downright nasty bullies, Johnny’s family seemed a bit tame in the end. I expected more from them, a more aggressive attempt to remove Dolph from Johnny’s life. Instead, I felt we were given a too rapid wrap up and “fix the problem” scenario. After a minor confrontation or two, the whole question of Johnny being forcibly removed from Dolph was resolved and put away—much too easily in my mind. There’s no doubt that had the ending been a bit more involved and drawn out this would have been a five star read rather than a four.
Overall, I felt Deeper by Sean Michael was a worthy installment in the Hammer series. and I think fans will truly enjoy meeting these two men. I hope we get to see more of these two characters in future novels as I would love to see Sean Michael explore their relationship as it progresses.