Hey everyone! Today I'm featuring the lovely L.M. Somerton for her new release, Stroke Rate, which is available today at Total E-Bound. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from L.M. and sank my teeth into it immediately! *Huge smile* And in turn, I promised her my thoughts on the story in a blog review. I've always been a huge fan of hers, even before she was published, and reading this version of Stroke Rate was nothing short of what I expected, amazing. :) So, thanks so much for stopping by, L.M.
L.M: Thanks for the invite to visit and introduce Stroke Rate to your readers. The reader advisory begins: This book contains scorching scenes of dominance and submission between two professional rowers with smoking hot bodies! Yes, it’s true – Lycra can be sexy on the right men! If you like your MM romance with more than a little bit of kink, then I think you’ll enjoy Lucien and Ben’s adventures.
*fans self* Well, we do enjoy our kink around these parts, and it's a pleasure to have you. I enjoyed Ben and Lucien's adventures very much and I'm sure my readers will too!! Here's the Stroke Rate blurb to get us started:
Lucien Thorne likes to be in control, but the boy he wants to own may take some convincing.
Gorgeous but shy, Benedict Astor does his best to keep a low profile at the rowing club where he works. However, unbeknown to Benedict, he has attracted the attention of Lucien Thorne, rowing aristocracy, an Olympic medallist and a Lord.
Whilst looking for a new rowing partner, Lucien believes he has found what he needs in Ben. He pushes him to his limits on the water and it becomes clear that rowing with the pretty young man is not his only interest. Ben is attracted to Lucien but confused about his feelings. Lucien is demanding, arrogant and dominant—which Benedict responds to even though he feels he should resist.
Fighting emotions he doesn’t understand, Ben has to contend with the bullying rowing club president and a humiliating auction of promises.
Lucien recognises Ben’s hidden submissive streak and makes his own need for control very clear. He bids for Ben’s time and then forces Ben to admit to his own desire to test the ground between them.
When the deeds to the boat club are gambled away, Lucien and Ben must work together to save it. Will their growing love survive the pressure, Ben’s uncertainty and Lucien’s desire to own him completely?
While this book was on the shorter side, I was still completely satisfied with the plot, characters, and wrap-up at the end. Sometimes when I read a novella, I'm left with that 'what the hell just happened' feeling and keep pressing the next button on my Nook, hoping there's more in store. But Stroke Rate was just right. By the last page, I felt L.M. had done a nice job of leaving you with a warm HEA all of us crave and none of the dangling questions.
The main characters, Ben and Lucien, were sexy as hell, especially Lucien, an elite rower that Ben has a crush on. He seems like a rich playboy in the beginning, targeting the shy, introverted Ben as his new boy toy. But that's far from the case. Ben ends up finding a sense of safety and sexual awakening in Lucien. And in turn, Lucien finds himself equally attached to Ben, both in bed and in his heart. One thing I really appreciated was how even though Lucien has a soft spot for Ben, he doesn't lose his dominant edge. He uses his control over Ben to help him crawl out of his shell and see that just because Ben wasn't blessed with lots of money or fancy material things, doesn't mean he can't have it all.
The sex scenes were juicy, as I expected they would be. You feel the tension in Ben, his innocence playing a major role in his thoughts and actions, making you think you're right there with him as Lucien tests his sexual limits through means of bondage and little games of give and take. By testing his limits, I mean dirty, naughty things that made me squirm for more. Lucien made me blush at times. The way he always said it was Ben's choice to continue, but we all knew he didn't mean it, because Ben wasn't about to say no... yes, please. LOL But he took care of Ben, slowly introducing him to the pleasure of pain and toys, and wasn't such a forceful asshole that you wanted to beat him with a stick. Ben's a virgin for crying out loud. Treat a boy right, you know? ;) The loving trust between them, dominant and submissive, was very well balanced, sexy, and heart-warming.
Another thing this book did for me, was provide a well developed sense of location, drawing me into every scene with the use of sight, touch, and smell. I loved learning about the boat house, and the rowing, and even Lucien's family home. It was like reading yourself into a mini vacation - warm and cozy with every passing word.
Overall, this was a fantastic read, from the places and research it took to take you there, to the fiery chemistry between the characters and their naughty bed games, to the urge to cheer for Ben and Lucien in the rowing race near the end, and the sigh that escaped your lips when you realized how much of his heart Ben had given to Lucien and vice versa. Five out of five stars for me. :D
An Excerpt from Stroke Rate:
Ben stood up shakily and grabbed the proffered arm. He felt the muscles tense to balance his weight and the sensation sent a line of fire straight to his groin. He started to harden and immediately flushed, because there was no way his shorts were going to offer any concealment whatsoever. He tried to disengage himself but Lucien held his wrist firmly. His mild blue gaze drifted downwards, then lifted to meet his eyes. Lucien’s expression seemed to be more triumphant than angry and Ben waited for the inevitable cut-down. Instead, he was towed up the grassy slope, then released.
“Six-thirty tomorrow morning. Don’t be fucking late and don’t go out on your own first. You'll need all your energy—I'm not going to go easy on you again.”
Ben knew he had been talking about rowing but it didn’t seem that way. The undercurrent of his words seemed to suggest something entirely different, and his body responded with an enthusiasm that gave him chills. Of course, it could just be the sweat drying on his body, but his rock hard cock ached and Ben had to remove his gaze from Lucien’s trim, black-clad arse before someone noticed that his tongue was hanging out. Metaphorically speaking.
He didn’t understand his own attraction. Sure, Lucien was gorgeous and had a body to match, but he was an arrogant bastard who seemed to expect the entire world to bow down and do his bidding. He had all the charm of a great white shark with an empty stomach. Belatedly, Ben thought about protesting. Though painful, rowing with Lucien had been a joy, but the assumption that he would be available and willing to drop everything to show up again the next day was deeply irritating. Ben could probably catch up with him and refuse, but he sighed and allowed himself to accept that it would never happen. Something inside him had responded to that commanding tone and though he was ninety per cent annoyed, the ten per cent that mattered just wanted to comply.
About L.M. Somerton:
L M Somerton lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.
She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.
Once again, thanks to L.M. Somerton! It was great having you on the blog. :) Happy release day! Hope everyone has a great day.