Firm Hand (Perfect Hands #1), Nora Phoenix
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: Nora Phoenix
Genre: Gay Erotic Romance
Tags: Contemporary, Age Gap, BDSM, Daddy Kink, Erotica, Romance, Series
Purchase At: Amazon.com
How can he want to call his best friend’s son Sir? Or even worse…Daddy?
Cornell is broken after losing his best friend Jonas and getting hurt himself. He’s too old, too imperfect to ever attract a Dom again.
When Rhys gives him commands, Cornell yearns to obey.
When Rhys takes care of him, Cornell wants to kneel for him.
When Rhys is everything he’s dreamed of, Cornell aches to call him Sir.
And when Rhys makes him fly, Cornell soars higher than ever before.
But there’s one problem. Rhys is twenty years his junior…and he’s Jonas’s son. How can you call your best friend’s son Sir…or Daddy?
Firm Hand is a standalone slow burn MM romance with daddy kink, an age gap, a very caring Daddy and a boy who needs it, hurt/comfort, mild D/s play, and all the feels.
The book starts with two forty-something best friends, Jonas and Cornell, in Jonas’ car on their way to his house after a not-so-great scene. Both subs, they’ve had their share of bad ones over the years, not to mention that it’s hard just to find a good Dom who’s willing to do a scene with them. Most want guys in their twenties. This makes it difficult for both Jonas and Cornell, who have been real close for decades. No, not just close. They’re described more than once in the book as soulmates. They love each other but it’s not that kind of love. They’re as close as two people can be without being involved romantically, though they do have a ‘with benefits’ type of thing when Doms want to watch them have sex with each other. They also sleep together a lot, even if it doesn’t go beyond cuddling. Jonas is bi and was once married to his Mistress/Domme, Cassie. Cornell is gay and was in a long-term relationship with a guy they call Asshole Arnold.
There’s an accident and everything changes. Jonas is killed and Cornell is severely injured.
Three months later Cornell is finally being released from the hospital/rehab center. His house has stairs and other obstacles that won’t work with his injuries. He’s contemplating (or should I say dreading) a long-term hotel stay when Jonas’ twenty-three-year-old son Rhys shows up and insists he come stay with him at Jonas’ house, that Rhys inherited when his father died. Rhys is a physical therapist and can see to Cornell’s needs better than a stranger could. They know each other well – Cornell is actually Rhys’ godfather – so it doesn’t take much for Cornell to agree, though being inside Jonas’ house for the first time after his death is emotional.
Rhys immediately takes charge. He helps Cornell with his daily therapy and sees to his other needs like making sure he’s eating well and not overdoing it with other things. With Cornell being a submissive he takes right to the care he’s receiving, even if he’s ashamed of some of the reactions he’s having to his best friend’s son.
Rhys has secrets. Not only has he had a huge crush on Cornell since he was sixteen, he’s also a Dom, having been training with one of the best for the past two years. He knows he needs to share this bit of info with Cornell or he might believe that Rhys has been dishonest and a little manipulative. In a way he has been because his dominating personality has come out more than once with Cornell. Rhys doesn’t want to mislead the man, but he’s scared that telling him the truth will have him leaving.
He finds out anyway.
Cornell has been battling with himself over Rhys. This is his best friend’s son, his godson. He’s also twenty-three-years-old. Sure, as Rhys got older, Cornell thought he was cute but nothing more. He never even considered anything sexual with the much younger man.
Suddenly his body is reacting to Rhys in ways he never would’ve imagined, and it’s not just sexual. He’s wanting Rhys to take complete control. He’s just… tired. He’s tired of hurting both physically and emotionally. He wants to give it all to somebody else. He doesn’t want to make decisions or even think about what he’ll be eating. He just wants to let go. Rhys is all too eager to be the one to take it all away from him.
Rhys is a mature twenty-three and he knows what he wants. What he wants, has always wanted, is Cornell. I loved Rhys. The way he was with Cornell was beautiful, especially once they started getting intimate. He always gives Cornell exactly what he needs. It was a super slow burn but it had to be. Both men were still mourning the loss of Jonas, and honestly, Cornell simply wasn’t ready. Rhys, being a good Dom and sensitive to Cornell’s needs, knows when he is.
There are a couple of secondary characters I should probably mention. First, there’s Sarah, Cornell’s sister. I’ll just say that she’s a resentful bitch. Then there’s Cassie, Rhys’ mother and Jonas’ ex-wife. Cassie talks to Rhys like he’s a child and treats Cornell even worse. She never understood his and Jonas’ relationship, though it was pretty obvious that she was jealous. Rhys is honest with his mother from the start about his feelings for Cornell. He stands up for what, who, he wants and doesn’t give a damn what others think and that includes his mother. When she makes an unannounced visit – literally uses a key to get inside Rhys’ home when he doesn’t immediately rush to answer the door – things get a little awkward. Rhys treats Cornell as if he’s the most precious thing in the world, even as Cassie has an epic meltdown. I’d already liked Rhys to that point. This had me liking him even more.
The sex scenes were amazing. The D/s was written well. Rhys is the perfect Dom. Cornell is the perfect sub. I love age gaps and there were over two decades between these two.
But then things changed…
Something seemed a bit off for me. I’m not one of those readers who thinks it’s weird for non-biological related ‘family’ to hook up. Granted, Cornell was Rhys’ godfather, not father or even step-dad. He was considered as close as family. I loved Jonas. His and Cornell’s friendship was described beautifully. You knew exactly where they stood. And strangely, the reader also knows that Jonas would have been okay with the relationship between his son and best friend. He may have been weird about it at first, but he would’ve eventually given them his blessing. For him it was all about seeking happiness wherever you can find it as long as there’s consent.
“I have to wonder how Dad would have felt about this,” Rhys said softly.
“I have to believe he would’ve been happy for us,” Cornell said. “Your father was one of the most open-minded people I’ve ever known. His only rule was consent. Whatever two people did, as long as it was between two consenting adults, he was fine with it. I have to believe he would’ve felt the same about you and me.”
I think what bugged me, what seemed a little off, was that the men went from being Dom and sub to being Daddy and boy pretty much without warning. I’m all about a bit of daddy kink so I have no issue with that at all. My problem is when this happened – literally at the end of the book. Rhys was a good Dom and I could easily picture him as a Daddy. Cornell was a natural submissive but I had a hard time seeing him as a Daddy’s boy. It’s not the fact that he’s over twenty years older than Rhys. It just didn’t seem natural. In the second book (that I’ve since read) I could see it more with Cornell, but not so much in Firm Hand.
With that being said, I really did enjoy the book. I loved Rhys from the get-go and that love grew as the story played out. He was only twenty-three, but he had it together better than most men twice his age. He and Cornell were good together, though I had a little trouble seeing Cornell as the strong and independent lawyer that he was described as early on. I know he’s been through a lot with losing Jonas and with his own injuries, and I know he’s a sub, but he came across as a little too needy a few times. It was like he couldn’t make any type of decisions or even be alone for a few hours. He needed Rhys 24/7. I know every couple is different, and it worked for these two, but it just kind of read wrong to me. I’m not sure why because I’ve read a ton of D/s books with characters just like Cornell and it worked.
The next book in the series is Gentle Hand, about Raf and Brendan, two guys introduced in this one. Since I typed this review I’ve read that one (as I said above) and got a better feel for both Rhys and Cornell. It actually had me upping my rating of Firm Hand from 4 stars to 4.5.
A nice story. A nice series. I’m glad I took a chance recently with an author I’d never read before.