Lucien Thorne likes to be in control, but the boy he wants to own may take some convincing.
Gorgeous but shy, Benedict Astor does his best to keep a low profile at the rowing club where he works. However, unbeknown to Benedict, he has attracted the attention of Lucien Thorne, rowing aristocracy, an Olympic medalist and a lord.
Whilst looking for a new rowing partner, Lucien believes he has found what he needs in Ben. He pushes him to his limits on the water and it becomes clear that rowing with the pretty young man is not his only interest. Ben is attracted to Lucien but confused about his feelings. Lucien is demanding, arrogant and dominant—which Benedict responds to even though he feels he should resist.
Fighting emotions he doesn’t understand, Ben has to contend with the bullying rowing club president and a humiliating auction of promises.
Lucien recognizes Ben’s hidden submissive streak and makes his own need for control very clear. He bids for Ben’s time, then forces Ben to admit to his own desire to test the ground between them.
When the deeds to the boat club are gambled away, Lucien and Ben must work together to save it. Will their growing love survive the pressure, Ben’s uncertainty and Lucien’s desire to own him completely?
I love stories by LM Somerton. When I found out about this book, Stroke Rate, I was leery. I mean how much is there really to say about a rowing club? But it’s her, so I picked it up. Now, a while later, she’s expanded the book and rereleased it. And I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
We start by meeting Benedict Astor. He’s shy, and hate confrontation. He works doing odd jobs for the Okeanos rowing club he’s part of, and in return gets a small apartment above the place. It’s not an easy life for him. One of the club members, Seb, who happens to be his ‘boss’, is a jerk, to put it nicely. He’s constantly berating Ben, belittling him, and giving him tough assignments, ignoring the fact that Ben has his own work to do. But Ben, being who he is, refuses to argue.
Into Ben’s world strides the obnoxious Lord Lucien Thorne. He’s a former Olympic rower, who started doing singles when his rowing partner retired. But now he has his sights set on a new partner, and Ben’s not entirely happy about the arrangement. He likes Lucien, but the fact that the man is such an infuriating bastard makes Ben try to hold him at arm’s length…despite how much he wants to give in. When Lucien tells Ben they’re going to be rowing together, Ben is incredulous. He knows he’s nowhere near Lucien’s level, but one simply doesn’t say no to Lord Thorne.
After being hijacked into being Lucien’s rowing partner, Benedict is told something that has him reeling. Seb has offered Ben’s services at a Promise dinner. For one day, Ben has to do whatever is asked of him by whomever provides the most money for him. When the truth comes out, Ben is surprised by who now owns him for the next twenty-four hours.
From this point, the story shifts into high gear. Ben is stunned by what happens during his Promise, but even more, he’s finding out that things and people aren’t exactly as he assumed them to be. But more, Ben himself is more than he ever thought possible.
The characters of Ben and Lucien were so easy to fall in love with. Ben is shy and uncertain. Lucien seems cold and unfeeling. LM Somerton takes these two men and blends them together in such a beautiful way. It’s a joy to watch them explore their blooming relationship. But it’s more of a thrill (for me) that Lucien is so possessive of Ben. He doesn’t want anyone to see Ben the way he does. He’d prefer they not even look at him.
The counterweight for the story is Sebastian. He reminds me of Kent from Real Genius (80s movie you should see if you haven’t).
He wants attention, demands it in fact. But he’s whiney and self-serving. When he does something that threatens not only Ben and Lucien, but the rowing club, Lucien takes charge and it’s here that he’s in his glory. From this point on, Lucien takes front and center. He drives Ben to be the best. No, to be better than the best. Because for them to come out on top, they need to work together.
So if you told me when Stroke Rate first came out, that I would fall in love with a book about rowing, I would have scoffed. Somehow, though, LM Somerton pulled me into this world, making me feel like a part of it. She’s got that way about her. I read the first iteration of Stroke Rate and fell head over heels for it. This new version is quite a bit longer and, in my opinion, softens the edges of Lucien just a little bit. Enough to make me love him even more, especially when he interacts with Ben. Prepare to fall in love with these men, because as Ben finds out, once Lucien has you, he’s got no intention of letting you go.