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3.8 out of 5
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  • 3.5 stars- A mix of hits and misses

    I’m not wholly sure where to start with this review. I’m not even sure what to rate it star wise. For me Lock and Key balanced on the cusp of 4 stars. There were parts I really liked, so much so that I will likely look into this author’s other books/series. And yet, there were enough niggling aspects that kept me from really enjoying the story in its entirety. Lock and Key is a spinoff of the author’s Dark Angel series. While it can easily be read as a standalone like I did, I’d surmise fans of that series will love seeing past couples/characters make regular appearances and impact this storyline. I quite enjoyed how this book naturally built from a previous storyline. I never felt left in the dark, but rather intrigued to read more about the Davis brothers and the Dark Angel band because they were all fun and intriguing in their supporting roles. The characters were well flushed out and had this settled vibe, reminiscent of that easy comfort you experience in the later books within a series. They made sense, the development was natural, and their interactions spoke of a familial and friend bond that immediately created a sense of community and intimacy among the primary and secondary characters. I liked both main characters. They were this fun mix of awkward insecurity with a self-assured sense of what they wanted. The banter and dialogue had me regularly laughing and made it easy to empathize with Zack and Andrew, particularly in the inner dialogue moments. Ironically, as much as the inner dialogue was often a source of humor for me, the internal chants (e.g. “Kneel. Serve. His”) were one of my biggest hang-ups. I don’t know if the audiobook highlighted these moments more than reading would, but it was distracting and happened with such frequency that it grated. A lot. I did like Zack and Andrew together. Though it became a source of long standing angst, I liked Andrew’s approach of taking a while to pursue a relationship and his reasons- specifically Zack’s age and inexperience- made perfect sense. I liked the awkward exchanges between them as they struggled with the buried feelings and attraction. I liked the simmering chemistry and build-up. I even liked Andrew’s plan to woo Zack. But the perpetual failure to communicate slowly wore on my nerves. These men were in close quarters so often that I got frustrated they refused to address the elephant in the room, especially once they plan to pursue a D/s relationship. I think had this back and forth not drug out long past what I felt was necessary, I would have liked the story that much more. I’m not typically a BDSM reader, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book as far as the sex scenes or romance and I can’t comment specifically on the accuracy of the portrayal. There are a lot of details of the BDSM culture and lifestyle included, and I think plenty of readers will enjoy that attention to detail. Personally, it got to be a little too clinical in the descriptions, specifically explaining the D/s relationships, power exchanges, contracts, rules of the club, expectations of behavior, etc. This could be because I’m not necessarily intrigued by the inner workings of the BDSM lifestyle, but I found it slowed the pace to a crawl when the explanations began to overshadow the romance. I wished the romance had become a little more entwined with the BDSM aspect of the relationship. It felt like there were two specific partnerships- master and pet, then the lovers Zack and Andrew. I kept expecting them to merge and it never fully did, at least not to my satisfaction. *Reviewed audiobook for Alpha Book Club*

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