Riley and Jenn were roommates and best friends in college. Both have harbored feelings for one another for years, but have never worked up the nerve to admit it. Riley also needed time to explore his darker sexual side before asking Jenn to become a part of it. Since graduating, they've lived miles apart, but have kept in touch via phone and email. When a job interview brings Jenn to Riley's neck of the woods, he's more than ready to finally tell her how he feels and introduce her to the BDSM lifestyle. Jenn has decided she's going to fess up too and is willing to do anything to have a relationship with Riley, but she never expected him to confess to being a dom. Will she be able to handle his intense sexual needs, or will his kink send her running back home?
Bottoms Up is a scorching hot, erotic romance novella about two long-time, best friends who finally give in to their desire to become lovers. This is a pretty short story that takes place over the course of only one weekend, during which the hero reveals his dark, sexual side to the heroine and tries to convince her that she's the woman he has always wanted. Normally, stories that take place in such a short time frame don't work well for me, but having these two know each other for years and be good friends, as well as former college roommates, really helped with the believability. It was obvious that they had both harbored strong feelings for one another for a long time, but were just too afraid to say anything.
I'm sure it was no accident that the fictional book Jenn found on Riley's shelf was titled The Caring Dominant, because that's exactly how he came across most of the time. He's a dom to be sure, but he can have a gentler side. Rather than barking his orders, they were given in a more calm but firm way, which made me feel like he was slowly easing Jenn into it. Realizing that she was new to the scene and would require some time to get used to it, he wasn't always unbending with the "rules" either, and of course, his number one priority was giving her mind-blowing pleasure. I also liked how the author showed Riley's vulnerable side, and that his greatest weakness was Jenn. He just couldn't get enough of her, and after years apart and coming to terms with his dominant side, he's ready to settle down with her as his permanent sub.
Jenn has been crazy about Riley since their college days, but has never worked up the nerve to tell him how she feels. Ever since graduating, they've lived miles apart, but now that she has a job interview in the city when he lives, she's ready to fess up and willing to do anything to be with him. Of course, Riley puts her resolve to the test in ways she never could have imagined. Jenn had done just enough experimenting to know that she has a slightly darker side herself, and Riley's dominant behavior really turns her on. I liked that she was open-minded enough to accept every part of Riley without question and was far more responsive to his seduction than he ever dreamed she would be. Just the mere thought of being with Jenn, gets him hot and bothered, but when she gets every bit as turned on by the things he does to her, it's the ultimate rush for him.
Even though Riley and Jenn have their prior friends connection which gives their budding love relationship more credibility, it might have been nice to have a little more build up to the sex play. As is, things heated up between them at warp speed and never looked back. Occasionally, things slowed down just enough for the reader to get a few tidbits of non-sex related conversation or introspection, but it never lasts long before the next hot, steamy encounter begins. I did believe that they loved one another, but it might have been nice to have more romantic moments in between the sex. The entire novella kind of felt like one long, extremely intense, virtually never-ending sex scene. This and a couple of the things Riley and Jenn did not quite being my cup of tea were the only things that kept me from giving this novella keeper status.
Otherwise, I have no complaints. I liked the characters, and I mostly enjoyed the story. I was very impressed with how the author focused on the importance of trust in the D/s relationship. I admit that I know very little about the BDSM scene, but I do know that trust is paramount to everything else. It's the main thing that makes these types of stories enjoyable to me on occasion, but not something that all authors in the genre are good at conveying, so I really appreciated this aspect. The other thing I appreciated immensely is the technically good writing. Many authors in the erotic romance genre are not necessarily the strongest writers, but that is definitely not the case with Eliza Gayle. Her writing skill puts Bottoms Up at a very solid four stars, and has left me quite interested in trying more of her work.
Note: This novella contains explicit language and sexual situations which may offend some readers, including a D/s relationship, blindfolding, spanking, exhibitionism, bondage, and anal play with a toy.
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