Publication Date: June 16, 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Pages: 86 pages
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository
At nineteen, college freshman Mace Danner works as an escort, hiring himself out to customers who want a submissive they can dominate. Having no carnal urges himself, the sexual side of his job leaves him cold, but he sees the pain inflicted on him by his clients as punishment for causing his brother’s death when he was in high school. Pain is not enough, however, to wash away his guilt, and Mace starts binge drinking in an effort to escape his remorse.
The dorm’s resident advisor, Dex Hammel, sees Mace spiraling out of control and strives to help him. Despite the mutual attraction between them, Mace is disturbed that he still feels no sexual desire for anyone. Even with Dex’s support, Mace’s self-destructive behavior escalates, leading to a situation that endangers his life.
Trigger warnings for physical abuse, rape, and alcohol abuse. If this triggers you in any way, I do not recommend picking this book up. Please beware and take care of yourselves.
Bender was a very dark story. I was very intrigued by the synopsis when I saw it on NetGalley, which is what drew me in to read it. A young male escort dealing with a fair amount of guilt who deals with it by specializing in submission as an escort. Along with the fact that Mace is asexual.
I had not, until this novella, read about an asexual main character. And although I am not asexual, it felt like a fairly good representation of asexuality. Or at least, my understanding of it.
I enjoyed the characters, for the most part. I think they fit their roles well and each had their own purposes. I appreciate Mace’s character for the struggles that he deals with. I liked the fact that Dex wanted to help Mace and be there for him. Troy is lovable and has unwavering integrity, which is always a great attribute to have.
I think the way that Mace decides to deal with his guilt is interesting, but I’m not entirely convinced that it made a lot of sense. I also wasn’t extremely attached to the romance, but I feel like that had more to do with the size of the novella than anything else. There really wasn’t much time to get attached to it.
For the first little bit of this novella, the line between consensual BDSM and sexual violence seemed fairly clear. However, as the story progresses and more events take place, that line became more blurred. I was not a huge fan of the murkiness there, but I suppose it made sense for the direction that the plot took.
Overall, this was a good, quick read. There’s a lot of hurt/comfort throughout this novella, so if you’re a fan of that I would definitely recommend giving it a read.