Title: Slap and Tickle
Author: Clare London
Publisher: Jocular Press
Pages/Word Count: 33,000 Words
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Bryan Harrison is a successful accountant and a man who admires order and self-discipline. It’s a startling break from his routine when he literally bumps into Phiz Bussman outside With A Kick. Phiz’s lifestyle and behaviour are in complete contrast to Bryan’s, and appear totally chaotic. But they each recognise something in the other that they need.
Bryan has been helping With A Kick with its financial difficulties, and is finding it difficult to balance his professional persona with friendship with the owners. But then he’s always found it tricky to expose his more vulnerable feelings. His cool facade hides loneliness: he believes he’ll never find a lover who accepts and welcomes his secret desire.
Whereas Phiz is all about exposure! He’s defined by his cheerful but clumsy liveliness, his open-hearted emotions, and his physical needs. Despite that, he’s lonely as well. He craves someone who will help him bring purpose and focus into his life, and admits freely he needs a firm hand – in every way.
If they can both accept a friendship that’s destined for more, Bryan may be just the man to provide it.
Review: With a Kick is the ice cream shop that figures largely into the tales Clare London has spun so far in three standalone novellas in this series. Offering their adult themed treats, it’s a novelty of a place that draws its patrons in with the promise of something sweet with… well, a kick, in that all of the ice creams contain an extra something of the alcoholic variety. One of the things I love about the two books I’ve now read, the first being A Twist and Two Balls, is that it’s the contrasts of this unique and unassuming little shop—the sweet mixed with the unexpected—that seem to complement the relationships the author has introduced, two opposing flavors that somehow work together and become something more.
In Slap and Tickle it’s the contrast of Bryan Harrison, the staid and stuffy business man, with Phiz Bussman, the unemployed college dropout who is sweet, if a bit hyper. Bryan has had the misfortune of an ex who didn’t understand the nature of his desires—something Bryan was still trying to understand and come to terms with himself when he was made to feel there was something unnatural about him, causing him to suppress the need to dominate sexually. Bryan has lost sight of the fact that there’s a difference between knowing what he wants and understanding what that something represents, that it’s in truth a deeper need that’s only wrong if wasted on the wrong partner, so when his life collides (in a literal sense) with Phiz’s, all the ingredients for what could be the perfect start to something spectacular are introduced.
Of course, Clare London understands it wouldn’t be much of a story if everything fell into place too easily, so both Bryan and Phiz must figure out how to reconcile their respective needs for dominance and submission with life outside of the bedroom: Bryan trying to balance his business relationship with his friendship with Patrick, With a Kick’s owner; Phiz simply trying to prove to Bryan he’s not hapless and helpless and to communicate that he doesn’t need to be handled, apart from sex. It’s not a new twist to the D/s storyline, but the author uses both humor and the charm of her characters to bring this novella to a satisfying ending.
I’m not certain whether there are more books forthcoming in this delightful series, but I do know I hope Patrick and Lee (Patrick’s employee. Or something more?) will get to have their story told. I’m nothing less than intrigued by the nature of the relationship between the two, just tidbits and teases handed out so far, but that’s for another review. For this one, I’d say Slap and Tickle was the perfect way to spend a snowy Sunday in front of the fire, a sharp and sexy feel-good read. With a kick.
You can buy Slap and Tickle here: