Book Title: Terms of Service by Marie Sexton
Published: June 25, 2018
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Dr. River McKay moved to Denver with his husband, Terrence, hoping to give their failing marriage a new start. A year later, Terrence is gone and River’s left brokenhearted. Now, he’s decided it’s time to get back in the game. A chance encounter at the hospital introduces him to Phil, a strong-willed pharmacist who isn’t impressed by River’s degree.
Phil can’t deny his attraction to River, but dating is out of the question. Phil only does one kind of relationship — domestic servitude, where he gives the orders and his partner obeys. To his surprise, River agrees — not because he likes the idea, but because anything’s better than being alone.
They know the arrangement won’t last. Phil’s set in his ways and incapable of showing affection outside the bedroom. River’s unused to obedience and still in love with his ex. But their time together will change them, making them question everything they thought they knew about love, control, and relationships. When the unexpected threatens to tear them apart, they’ll have to choose between the comforts of the past and a future they can only find together.
Can I just say that I love the cover? And that dragonfly hits me in the gut. (You’ll know its meaning once you read the book. winkwink)
Not exactly the book I want to read on my rest day since it reminds me so much of my work and workplace. But it was free on Amazon (I’ve just realized that the rest of the series is available on Kindle Unlimited), and I’ve been curious about Sexton’s work, so even if this is the 2nd book of the series, I just went and gave it a try.
One of the reasons why I’m not keen on reading the rest of the series is because of the BDSM theme. That theme is either a hit or a miss. Unless that’s a KJ Charles book, I’m going to be more skeptic going in.
Sure enough, I didn’t really like the first half of the book. I had a hard time imagining the obedient River, more like connecting Dr. River and sub River. Maybe because I usually see the professional side of the doctors, so thinking about River’s personal side is quite unimaginable.
Like with River, I have a hard time connecting with Phil. He may be into pain like most dominants in fiction, but he’s cold and emotionally distant. But when I finally do and see things like River, Phil is the sweetest person and puts the needs of his lover first. He’s just not the showy and affectionate kind.
There was also this part of the narrative where I was pulled out of the story when the author began explaining the cases they encountered in the ER. I understand that it was important to be able to explain River’s mood afterward, but it stood out among the rest of the story. Thank goodness, it didn’t happen again, or I might have stopped reading right then and there.
In the end, I ended up loving this more than I thought I could be. Terms of Service is not about the feels and the fluff, but more of establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship. I also liked how BDSM is used not as a form of aggression or power-play in a relationship like how it is portrayed in one of the books I’ve read previously.
Because of this book, I’m now interested in reading the rest of the series as I become more attached to the characters and can’t help but wonder what their stories are.