(The Dungeon Black Duology #1)
Author: Kora Knight
Genre: MM Erotica, Contemporary
And Upending Tad Spinoff: Max and Sean
Love. The most powerful force in existence, but also the most ruthless. Cunning and deceptive. Man’s greatest Achilles heel. Leaving all who embrace it weak and vulnerable.
At least that’s how Dom-for-hire Max Kelley sees it, after the love of his life knocked him on his ass. A brutal blow that not only stole his breath, but decimated his ability to trust. Turning him cold and cynical. The TKO he never saw coming.
Love. A mistake Max won’t ever make again.
Meaning no more relationships—not exactly a hardship. Just the thought of dating makes him queasy, and one of the reasons he doms for a living. To sexually engage without the poison of intimacy. The other reason? To keep his demons sated. With whips and chains, and scandalous kink. A fiery mix that always hits the spot.
That is, until a bright-eyed beauty walks into his life and refuses to leave.
Sean Matthews. College senior and flirt extraordinaire. Max’s newest—and greenest—client sub. Man, is he delicious; able to push Max’s buttons, able to make him crave the things he knows he shouldn’t. Sound the alarm, this can only mean trouble. Unfortunately, deterring Sean proves virtually impossible, and now Max finds himself at a crossroads.
Man up and kick his favorite sub to the curb… or succumb to his own caged desires.
Warning: This erotic, gay, BDSM romance contains intensely explicit sexual scenes both inside and out of the dungeon.
** Note from the author: While this duology can be considered a stand alone, I highly recommend readers visit the prior series (Upending Tad: A Journey of Erotic Discovery) first for two reasons: It was the chemistry of Tad and Scott that started it all and won these books such a devoted following. But also, the love interests in Unearthed (Max and Sean) were first featured in the previously mentioned series, giving the reader a unique first impression of them from Tad and Scott's POV. Most readers would agree that Max definitely made his mark in a very striking way long before Unearthed ever came to be. (less)
(This is a long review- there is just so much to say....)
I was so excited to read this book. Not only do we learn more about the mysterious Max from the Upending Tad series, but we get a glimpse of Tad and Scott from a different perspective. Max was always in the background of their story. He was dark, brooding, intimidating and a HUGE presence. Author Kora Knight has absolutely come through to assuage my curiosity about Max.
Max is a complex man. His past, that Knight handles with tender care, brought tears to my eyes. I had to walk away from the book for a few days. The emotions she elicits are powerful and the devestating loss Max went through is true for many young people who come out to their families. It's unfortunate and heartbreaking, but helps mold Max into the man he is when we meet him Scott and Tad's book.
Max likes control over everything in his life and he takes it. If he isn't in control, then he risks losing. Max owned who he was at a young age and after having been abandoned by his first love, he threw up a wall around his heart and never looked back. At least that's what he wants to believe.
And this is where Max becomes an amazingly well developed character. He is a hardass. He is intimidating. He is an artist. He is an amazing friend. He is a caretaker. He is a dom. The side of Max his clients see is the dominant who teaches them more about themselves than they sometimes bargain for ~ even though he won't allow himself the same freedom to discover what he needs. The side his students see is the incredibly talented artist and mentor who teaches them to showcase their talents. Sean sees both sides and can't seem to get enough of the multi-faceted man he's coming to know, despite the distance Max insists on putting between them. And did I mention that Max is stubborn?
Fortunately for him, Sean is hardheaded as well. He pursues Max, even when Max tries to intimidate him. He pushes Max to his personal limits, though Max has not given a safeword. Sean goes in believing he is only playing around to see what Max is made of. He sees him as a challenge and can't get enough of him. He can't get enough of being pushed to his limits while at the same time, unknowingly, he is pushing Max to his as well.
Knight's characters and story development are extraordinary. She makes her characters believable and relateable, and doesn't rush. She takes her time to create a world and the people in it who are all too real.
The second book, Revived, is out. Time to see if Max can learn to love himself.