Dreamspinner Press, 2010
Seth Hollis lives his passions online under the pseudonym “Lotus” and attracts ex-Navy SEAL Sahara Blue, who avidly follows the erotic tales of passionate submission Seth posts. While they forge a powerful connection, it’s increasingly frustrating, because both men yearn for something real. Seth’s writings have also attracted an unwanted and dangerous admirer, and when the glass window of Seth’s shop is shattered one night, fate sends Sahara Blue to his rescue.
Unaware he has actually met Lotus, Sahara takes Seth under his wing, and that same mysterious and deep attraction flares to life. But Seth’s deranged stalker won’t let up, and Seth and Sahara will have to give up their secrets and learn to trust if they’re going to keep each other safe.
A spin-off of Mastering Toby.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Stalker, Virginity, ex-SEAL, Damaged heroes
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher.
Thinking of the main characters, awkward was the first word that came to mind when I started reading this novel. During the first third or so of the book Seth and Sahara seemed to be unable to act after their feelings. Their attempts to make contact and get closer were so unusual and weird; it almost felt as if they weren't completely well in the head. But as the story progressed 'awkward' became 'adorable' and definitely turned into 'hot' and 'sweet' in the end. It turned out that both Seth and Sahara are emotionally damaged men and being together is the best thing that could happen to them.
So, eventually these heroes won me over. They are likable and layered characters, and definitely not the most common heroes. Their relationship has D/s tendencies although I wouldn't call it a BDSM relationship. The sex scenes are maybe a little hotter than plain vanilla, but that can be attributed to the kinky 'sex talk' they have going on and not so much to the sex itself. An important element in this story is Seth's virtual personality as Lotus, which he uses to make up and blog about his sexual fantasies. These fantasies sometimes are described explicitly and in the end they play an important part in his and Sahara's sex life. They also expose Seth's submissive nature quite clearly. I found it a bit difficult to rhyme Seth's sexual fantasies with his status as a virgin to be quite honest, but I liked how his two personalities - the shy, real life one and the sensual, virtual one - eventually melted together.
And Sahara is nothing like you would expect from a big, gorgeous, muscular ex-SEAL. Well, some things you might expect, but mostly he didn't answer to the cliché image of the military type. He has more layers than one can see at first. His initial clumsiness around Seth intrigued me. Slowly the author reveals a sensitive and caring person under all those muscles as the story progresses.
Here is how Seth sees him:
"Sahara. Capable, soft-spoken, authoritative—which both turned Seth on and pissed him off, depending on the situation—and beautiful."And his name - Sahara Blue - which I found rather ridiculous at first, kinda grew to me and it definitely didn't make him any less masculine. (if anything, I had more problems with both names of the main characters starting with an S - I can't help mixing the characters up every time when that's the case).
Operating besides these two lovable heroes was a wonderful cast of friends. Among them were Toby and Jared from the first book in this series: Mastering Toby. Although these books are obviously related, I had no problems reading this second book as a standalone. Nevertheless I'd like to read the first book now that I've met Toby and Jared, who are friends of Sahara. They seem like an interesting couple and I'm curious about Sahara's role in that book.
And then there were other friends of Sahara and Seth playing a part as well. Like Gecko, who takes part in a threesome with the heroes near the end, and Karen, Seth's closest friend.
From the above, one might think that Sahara Blue is a character driven book but that's not exactly true. There's a suspense plot arc involving a stalker taking up a significant part of the story. Seth's alter ego, Lotus, brought this stalker out and some unpleasant things happen, and not only to Seth. Although the stalker trope can be a bit of a bore when not executed well, here it worked out okay. At least for me. Seth's role and growth became more convincing by it. Still, the stalker himself and his motives felt rather farfetched to me, but what else to expect from a psycho, right?
Overall, this was an engaging story with interesting characters and an entertaining plot, except for a few weird and not very believable occurrences. Sahara Blue will appeal to readers who are looking for a contemporary read that is somewhat uncommon and has some D/s tendencies without it being about a pain filled, leather and chains kind of relationship. It's different from other m/m romances I've read, in a good way.
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