Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. – Potter Stewart
I’m going to be one-hundred percent honest here and tell you I almost stopped reading this book at least a half dozen times before I even made it to the halfway mark. Yeah, it was like that. This was a really difficult storyline for me to get rah-rah-happy about because I felt like some dirty old perverted lecher for reading it. It made me want to go shower repeatedly. And then I liked it. Oy, the conflict.
Not His Kiss to Take contains what might be considered some seriously difficult subject matter to wrap your head around: off screen rape, the repeated predatory pursuit of the victim—the straight victim, by the way—by the man who has assumed the role of the young man’s doctor and caretaker, auto-erotic asphyxiation, enema play, and then, on top of that, the book boils down to what is essentially an extended sex scene that begins immediately with the doctor penetrating the victim’s anus with fingers and that enema nozzle, and sprouting wood while he was doing it. See? I had a hard time getting beyond the fact that Dr. Evan Harrison would not only cross the line of ethics between doctor and patient, but that he’d obliterate that line in his want of Jamie, a man fourteen years younger than Evan, and a man who’s not only vulnerable and reliant upon Evan, but is also seemingly compelled to submit to Evan’s authority. At least in the bedroom.
But then… Then why, if I had all these squickalicious greasy-brained feelings, did I end up reading this book in a single sitting, getting a mere four hours of sleep because I couldn’t put it down? I can’t say it’s because it’s the best book I’ve ever read, because, while I liked it, it’s not. I can’t say it’s because these characters have darted their way to the top of the list of my all-time favorite couples, because, while I liked them (or eventually did), they haven’t. I can’t say it’s flawlessly written, because it isn’t—but it’s free, so I’m definitely not complaining. So why did I start justifying things in my mind? Things like, Evan isn’t technically a practicing physician because he suffers from migraines, so that being the case, has he really breached the doctor/patient code of ethics? Can there be a breach of trust if the very damaged person you’ve brought into your home doesn’t really trust you in the first place? Things like, hey, these guys are two consenting adults, so who am I to question what constitutes stepping over that invisible moral line, even though Jamie’s consent felt more than a little manipulated at times by Evan’s sexual magnetism.
Then I finished the book and decided I’m still not sure what drew me in, at least nothing I want to examine too closely, like the fact that it was incredibly (and maybe inappropriately?) provocative and erotic. But beyond that, I truly did want to see if Evan would ever come to the conclusion that what he’d done was in any way questionable, if not flat out wrong. And he does. And I needed to see that Jamie was okay with the way his relationship had evolved with Evan. And he was. Eventually. Was it convincing? Mmmm… sure, why not? I was honestly happy for them in the end, which I’m not sure I believed would or could happen in the beginning, considering I wasn’t even certain I’d finish the book to find out.
So, if you feel like putting on your kinky-boots and not having to pay a lot of money for it, give this one a try.