By His Rules is one of the most fascinating books I have read in quite some time. Aiden's life is a mess when he meets Keaton. He'd been exploring the darker and more dangerous side of BDSM with a cruel and sadistic dom. Aiden's low self-esteem leads him down a path of pain and humiliation. At the lowest time in his life, Keaton appears and offers him hope. Keaton Hughes is a top with a very clear vision of what he wants. He wants to guide and care for a special sub. His inclinations lean towards domestic discipline rather than a master/slave dynamic. He craves the trust involved with being the dominant disciplinarian in the relationship. It's clear that Aiden is hurting and in need of structure. His health, both physical and emotional is in jeopardy. Keaton gives him rules and consequences to help him recover. Aiden accepts these rules but has no idea how they, or the punishment for breaking them, will force him to face his demons and his feelings for Keaton.
The first part of this story is harsh and sets the stage for the rest of the book. Although difficult to read, I appreciate the insight into Aiden's past. No mere explanation could really allow the reader to 'get' Aiden. Once Aiden accepts Keaton's rules, the story begins to delve into a domestic discipline relationship. I've read a few such stories before but can't say I enjoyed them much. The stories were clearly more about the 'spanking' than about the dynamic at work. Not so with this one. The punishment and even the sex, becomes secondary to the emotional and mental aspects of Keaton and Aiden's relationship. The result is an intense and honest look at two men trying to find their way. I was incredibly caught up in their journey. If I have a complaint, it would be that Keaton doesn't seem to show enough anger or frustration. It doesn't detract from the story but does make him seem just a bit too perfect. Secondary characters contribute to the layers of the plot. Aiden's friends are quirky and balance the sometimes somber tone. I think that the portrayal of Scott (the sadistic dom) is a brilliant piece of characterization. He's vile yet vulnerable. The author humanizes him and I would love to see him get his own story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I'm glad to have discovered a new author for my 'must-read' list.
Aiden Cole can be anything men want—naughty schoolboy, palace slave, virgin twink, or slutty secretary. He’s a gifted actor with a gorgeous body who gives legendary head. Aiden could have his pick of any Top in the local leather bar, but is drawn to Scott Runge—a cruel, sexy Dom who pushes Aiden to his limits, allowing Aiden to experience the excitement and danger of the BDSM lifestyle to a degree he never has before. But when Scott goes too far, injuring Aiden, Aiden withdraws from the BDSM scene completely. Until he meets Keaton Hughes.
Keaton’s looking for something he can’t find in any dungeon: A domestic discipline relationship, in which he can provide his partner with guidance, support, and loving discipline. When Keaton takes Aiden in after Aiden’s traumatic encounter with Scott, he vows not to pursue any sort of relationship with the troubled sub. But as Aiden struggles to overcome the damage Scott has done and get his life back on track, Keaton’s rules might be just what he needs.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM theme and content, dubious consent, male/male sexual practices, violence.