Risk Aware is part of the Saugatuck Summer world, but is a totally standalone novel. This is a very readable romance, which considering the subject matter, is not overly heavy on the angst. A contemporary m/m romance with some very well thought out and imaginative BDSM elements, the title refers to the kink world’s mantra – Risk Aware Consensual Kink
Geoff Gilchrest is gay, a genius tattoo artist by trade and a mild sexual masochist for pleasure. Unfortunately, he is also a haemophiliac making both of these facets of his life problematic or impossible. As a mild flogging could kill him, and using his right hand to relieve frustration has given him more than one painful elbow bleed – Geoff is understandably bitter about his illness and the weakness he perceives it to be.
Whilst at a fundraiser for Mr Leather Michigan called ‘Buns and Baskets’, Geoff meets Robin, a handsome Dom who has no intention of re-joining the scene after some sub / boyfriend trouble in his past. However, destiny and temptation ensure that these men meet, and for a few days – Robin shows Geoff the possibilities and the pleasures that can be his through R.A.C.K. All it will take is total trust, complete honesty and commitment. The couple is not always on the same page regarding the ‘thing’ between them. Additionally, they are not always sure if they want the same from life regarding relationships. It takes some time and a few issues to resolve before things become easier for Geoff and Robin and that HEA is in their grasp.
This novel is well written and paced and takes the reader with Geoff and Robin as they discover if what they have is more than BDSM sex and scratching an itch. The novel covers approximately a year, and the couple’s journey feels neither rushed nor full of ‘misunderstandings’. The issues, though frustrating at times, feel real and believable. There is a lot about Geoff, his feelings towards his haemophilia and growing up with this condition. We also meet his adopted sister, Ling and the relationship between the two is a good one that provides more information about Geoff, and his mother in particular.
I would have liked to learn more about Robin and his family and motivations. We know he is wealthy but not a lot else, and we don’t see much about his gallery and aims outside of his relationship with Geoff. To be honest, I found it difficult to see what he was attracted to regarding Geoff at one point. We learn a little about Robin’s past relationship with Kyle, which went so wrong and a legal case that followed. I expected this situation to lead up to a climax in the plot – but these issues sort of fizzle out. There is a lot of sex in Risk Aware; personally I didn’t think it was all necessary and I was confused as to whether this was a genre romance with BDSM, or an erotic novel. For me it fell slightly unsatisfactorily, between the two
Nevertheless, there is a lot to recommend in Risk Aware and I will look out for more by this author.