Steven’s story is marked by betrayal. The kind that met love and needs with abuse and isolation, and corrupted something that began with the thrill of feeling real, only to end with the loss of self. The betrayal is past but overshadowing, tainting Steven’s attraction for Don with distrust, anger and fear, ruining what feels good, and second guessing what is felt.
Leather + Lace is about a Master/slave relationship gone wrong, the mourning of a lost love and the skittish burgeoning of a new one. It’s about what’s good and scary in BDSM, what’s good and scary in love. With Don, Steve learns trust, safe, sane and consensual, but at the end of the day, it’s also about being true to oneself in love, and being one + one in a relationship.
It’s a multilayered story that tackles a few prejudices about BDSM and transvestism on the way, it’s a sweet, slow burning romance, and it’s Steve’s journey to completion. I liked how it doesn’t feature sex gods, how it can be sexy and still showing that it’s far more than kinky sex, how it talks of the lifestyle without reducing it to a succession of scenes. I enjoyed Steve’s sass and Don’s patience, I like them together.
Why not 4 stars, then? This story is also about Steve’s brain taking over and having a hard time stepping down. It’s the right characterization for someone who went through hell and back and doesn’t trust his emotions anymore; yet, his propensity for overthinking made of this read something a little bit too cerebral. I’d hate to make it sound like it’s cold and dry because it’s not, but I thought it rather than felt it. Maybe it's a problem of timing, or it's because I am an overthinker too. Do I even make sense, I wonder…
Anyway, Leather + Lace is a good story with the potential to please everyone. It’s an excellent introduction to BDSM, it’s not heavy on kinks and will not put off vanilla readers, and it’s an intelligent take on the lifestyle that will please veterans. A win!