Series: Kick, Book 2
Genre: Male/Male Erotic Contemporary BDSM Romance
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Asher Ruggiero, a partner at Adrenaline Kick Adventures, is living a lie. As a control freak whose big Italian family thinks he’s straight, Asher likes his encounters concise, dirty, and discreet—until his company’s new rafting guide walks into work, dripping with brooding, intense sexuality. Sawyer Stevens is a mystery man with secrets and rough edges, and he makes Asher want to get to know him inside and out.
Ever since the tragic death of his parents, Sawyer has dedicated himself to the rush of adrenaline that comes from pleasure and pain. Moving from one guy to another, hiding when life gets too complicated—that’s all he can handle. So why does Asher make him long for something lasting and honest, when the gorgeous geek can’t even be true to himself? Sawyer wants to give Asher his heart, but he just doesn’t know how. After all, a life without integrity is a life without passion—and that’s the one thing Sawyer craves.
The Deeper He Hurts is a dark, emotional romance that captivated me from start to finish. There’s no sophomore slump to Lynda Aicher’s Kick series – Ash and Sawyer’s rocky road to a satisfyingly kinky happily ever after is completely addictive.
One of the things I liked best about the first Kick book, The Harder He Falls, was that the heroes weren’t perfect. Ms. Aicher delivers up two more fantastic, flawed heroes in Ash and Sawyer. Ash is an incredibly intelligent, confident man who comes across as almost icy, but actually has a warm and loving heart. Yet for all that Ash is comfortable with who he is, he’s terrified of coming out to his deeply religious family and has to live with the torment of not being himself around those he loves the most. Asher is also a sadist, one who is becoming less and less enamored with play partners who don’t satisfy or match his needs. Sawyer, in turn, is a man who can’t escape the ghosts of his past. He suffered a tragedy that marked him at an impressionable age and he’s never fully coped. He’s reckless with himself, a self-described “pain slut” who plays without limits. He and Ash click immediately, but even though Ash demands that their encounters have rules, Sawyer’s lack of concern for his own safety scares him.
What starts as a temporary arrangement where pain can be doled out and taken turns into something much more very quickly. Sawyer’s need for pain isn’t sexual, but the unexpected attraction between he and Ash makes him actively want something from a sadist other than pain for the first time. I absolutely loved the intensity mixed with the quiet moments as Ash and Sawyer grow close. Sawyer is quick to smirk and even quicker to run, so it’s not easy for he and Ash to fall in love. The angst of their internal battles was fantastic, and this is coming from a reader who can generally take or leave angst in her romance. It’s no simple matter for either man to find peace or to open themselves up to the possibility of the future they could have. That being said, there was a wealth of quiet, intimate moments and even a few spots of levity that balanced out the heavy emotion and kept The Deeper He Hurts from ever feeling weighed down.
The Deeper He Hurts isn’t for the faint of heart. Ash and Sawyer aren’t Dom and sub, but they are sadist and pain slut. There’s heavy, graphic pain play in this book that won’t appeal to everyone. As a trigger warning, there are also references to self-harm. All of this is part of Ash and Sawyer’s characters and I appreciated that Ms. Aicher showed sensitivity to the subjects and didn’t pay lip service to safety.
I highly recommend The Deeper He Hurts. It’s not an easy read by any means, but Sawyer and Ash’s love story is compelling, emotional, and memorable. I loved it and I can’t wait to read the next Kick book, The Farther He Runs.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.