Can a ghostly hound tell the difference between love and fear? Will man's best friend save the day?
Garrick and Tristan thought they were done with hauntings when they rid themselves of the evil ghost of Gabriel Blackthorne. But it seems that their connection to the supernatural runs deeper when howls in the night and glimpses of glowing red eyes gradually manifest into sightings of a mysterious black dog.
The ghostly hound seems to be protecting Tristan, but from what?
A group of friends visiting for the weekend provide a welcome distraction, but one of them would like to be more than friends with Garrick. Frankie sees Tristan as nothing more than a temporary inconvenience and does everything in his power to tempt Garrick away.
Rejected by Garrick, Frankie goes to extreme lengths to get his attention, using Tristan as his pawn in a very disturbing game.
How do you demonstrate the difference between love and fear when bondage and submission are parts of the equation? Will the Black Dog fulfil its role as protector or will Tristan pay the ultimate price for love?
Reader Advisory: This book contains an established MM D/s relationship, with plenty of hot kinkiness. Outside of this dynamic, the story also features non-consensual kidnap and physical violence.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Alpha Character
Word Count: 16670
Setting: Somerset, UK
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
"Garrick, I'm freezing! Can we please go back inside now?"
Tristan's pleading was falling on deaf ears. He knew that repeating himself would be useless. When Garrick was in one of his painting trances, there would be no shifting him. Tristan sighed in frustration. As much as he adored Garrick, there were times that his lover could be the most infuriating man on the planet.
Tristan shifted his position slightly and succeeded in gaining some attention.
"How many times do I have to tell you to keep still, Tristan? You fidget like a four-year-old." Tristan watched with amusement as his lover's expression went through a progression from annoyed to affectionate to mildly sheepish guilt. "Sorry, I'm doing it again aren't I? I can't help it—you look so fucking hot. Five more minutes, then we can go. I promise."READ MORE
Tristan rolled his deep brown eyes dubiously. He doubted that Garrick would ever be able to stop being so demanding when he painted. It was a part of who he was.
Tristan considered what an outsider would see if someone were to come upon the two of them unexpectedly. It was early October and the woods around Faversham Park were vibrant with a riot of colour. Every shade of gold, orange, red and yellow competed for prevalence in the canopy above them. There was little warmth in the autumn sun, but the light flickered through the trees, turning leaves to glowing jewels all around.
Beneath Tristan's bare—and very cold—feet, a thick carpet of dark green moss skirted the spreading trunk of the ancient oak he was positioned alongside. His long, slim legs were encased in soft, antique brown leather trousers, which sat low enough on his hips that the initials 'G.B.', branded just above the bone, could clearly be seen. He was naked from the waist up, pale skin taut across the toned muscles of his slender frame. His nipples felt tight and hard from the cold, and were aching a little in a way that he thought might be pleasantly relieved by a warm tongue and soft lips.
He shivered, not solely from the cold, and focused on Garrick's dark, tumbling waves and sculpted cheekbones. He was so gorgeous that Tristan could almost forget the wide leather collar Garrick had locked around his neck. Almost, but not quite—it was just too uncomfortable. About three inches wide, it was very stiff, forcing him to keep his head up. The small gold padlock that held it closed rested on his skin, just heavy enough to ensure that he could not ignore its presence. His dark brown, copper-streaked hair stirred in the breeze as he rested his weight against the gnarled bark of the tree and steeled himself for a longer wait.
When they had come out that morning, he'd been wearing a loose, cream cotton shirt that Garrick had chosen for him. Then he'd asked Tristan to unbutton it while he'd paced around looking for the right angle to paint from, and finally he'd said, "It's no good. Take it off. The image will work much better that way."
"Don't try and pretend that this wasn't always your intention, Garrick. I can see right through you," Tristan had objected.
Garrick had just given him an evil grin and held out his hand for the shirt. Tristan had been shivering ever since.
Finally, Garrick put down his brush and straightened up. "Okay. That's enough for today." Tristan waited expectantly as his beautiful boyfriend crunched through the fallen leaves towards him and gathered him into his arms. "If you didn't look so beautiful, I wouldn't get quite so absorbed."
Garrick handed him his shirt and a warm pullover, then turned to pack his kit away.
"So the fact that I've been freezing my butt off for hours is all my fault?" Tristan rolled his eyes, dressed quickly and went to help. "I'm soaking in a hot bath when we get back. I'm frozen."
Garrick twitched one eyebrow slightly. "Is that an invitation?"
"Maybe. Now, can you please unlock this collar? It's bloody uncomfortable."
"What do you mean, 'no'?"
"Does that really need translation? I want you to keep it on for a while. It looks amazing."COLLAPSE
This is such a great follow-up to The Portrait, I loved getting this quick glimpse into how well Garrick and Tristan are settling into their relationship. Garrick is as demanding and possessive as always, but I liked seeing traces of his vulnerability surface as they face new threats. Tristan seems to be blossoming under Garrick’s attention, his confidence escalating as he embraces his submissive nature and relaxes enough to be more playful with his lover. I really enjoyed the paranormal element that continues into this book, as ominous as the hound was, the fact that it was so protective of Tristan was endearing to me, even as they struggled to figure out how to make it understand the dynamic between the two men. As we see how far the hound was willing to go to protect Tristan, my bloodthirsty little heart cheered for its loyalty and I find myself hoping that he remains a recurring character if we’re lucky enough to get another installment of Garrick and Tristan’s story.