Title: Shaded Chains
Author: Jack L. Pyke
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Length: 102 Pages
Category: Contemporary, BDSM
At a Glance: I highly recommend this short story! For fans of Pyke, you will recognize her talented wordsmithing capabilities, and if you are new to her work, you will appreciate the depth of feeling and solid time and place she evokes.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: “Say my fucking name.”
Alex Gardner is a psychiatric nurse, Ross McKendrik a tattoo artist: both know the fears and strains of caring for an old man with dementia: Ross’s father. When lines between father and son are crossed and trust is broken between Alex and Ross—between a sub and Dom—Ross is in a fight for his life to earn the right to hear his sub say his name again. Only having grown up in the Scottish Highlands, Ross’s methods are a little… dangerous, his methods are a little… dark. Love is about to get very, very tough.
Review: Are you a fan of Jack L. Pyke? Even if you are not you will love this rework of a story she originally wrote back in 2014. The original name was His, but in this rework she has added depth to her characters, expanded the length some (even though it is still short), and given us a more rounded story.
This novella jumps in from the get-go, so be prepared to come up to speed fast on the dynamics between our MCs, and the stumbling blocks in their lives. Even though the story is short, you come away feeling like you have known these men for quite some time. Pyke gives us a beginning, middle and end in this novella while conveying a sense of time before and time after the snapshot we see. The pacing is done well, and the intensity between the MCs is more ramped up in this rework.
Ross and Alex have been in a relationship for quite some time now. Alex works in a psychiatric facility where Ross’s father is a patient. It’s where they met, with Alex being a primary caregiver for Ross’s father. At the time of the story, they have been dating for over five years but have known each other for over ten. Ross works as a tattoo artist, and the metaphor of shaded chains refers to the rings Ross is inking around Alex’s cock. Right now, they are all shaded and perfect but not quite touching—Ross wants to complete the circlet in true “collared” fashion for their next anniversary.
These two have a complicated BDSM relationship, and the creative ways Ross takes care of Alex could only be thought of by Pyke. They have a good, solid relationship, but Ross screws up; he knows he does. When Ross is unable to shield Alex from the blows (literally) delivered by his own father that are associated with doing his job, Ross doubts himself as a Dom, and makes some wildly bad decisions which have consequences with Alex that he doesn’t foresee. Alex is hurt, and this isn’t the first time Ross has hurt him, so forgiving and forgetting are not on the agenda. Ross must come to accept some hard truths and then convince Alex he can be the partner that Alex needs. The complicated scene that Ross constructs for Alex to prove his point is disturbing, arousing, creative, psychologically challenging and encompassing of them and their love. The way Ross fights for the right to be called Sir again is a little extreme, but right in context with these two men and their relationship.
Ross held on, marking, claiming at Alex’s throat, whispering Alex’s name, and all the quietest sorries that came with it as Alex made his own claim on his Dom, taking all Ross had left to give.
The figure of Ross’s father was extremely well written, as was the relationship between the two. Anyone who has cared for someone with dementia can relate wholeheartedly with the hot/cold, love/hate, joy and sorrow that you go through. The desperate way Ross tries to hold on to the man his father used to be, with the allegory of the pen, just rips your heart out and stomps on it. Pyke uses her words to create a picture here—that by holding on to his father’s pen, Ross can still hold on to his father—is a picture that evokes emotion from her readers on a visceral level.
…the boy still wanting to hold his father’s hand but now settling for what his father had held over the years instead. Understanding and contact, just by a different medium, by a missing link that usually sparked good moments to be lived, shared…. Remembered, not lost.
I highly recommend this short story! For fans of Pyke, you will recognize her talented wordsmithing capabilities, and if you are new to her work, you will appreciate the depth of feeling and solid time and place she evokes. There are trigger warnings with this one, as with a lot of her work, so make sure you read the fine print as this one is a little dark, a lot erotic, and all Jack L. Pyke.
You can buy Shaded Chains here: