Author: Leta Blake
Pages/Word Count: 345 Pages
At a Glance: Training Complex is a beautiful continuation to a story and characters I love.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Buckle up – Matty’s back!
Figure skater Matty Marcus didn’t capture Olympic gold, but he won rancher Rob Lovely’s heart.
After Rob sold his ranch and Matty hung up his skates, they started a new life together in New York City. Now Matty has taken on a fresh challenge as a figure skating coach, and Rob’s second career as a physical therapist should be everything he’s dreamed of. But in the brutal heat of their third summer in the city, Rob yearns for the wide-open country, and the intensity of city life awakens Matty’s demons.
Matty asks for increasingly intense BDSM scenes, and his disordered eating and erratic behavior ramp up the stakes. Rob struggles to stay in control, and after a well-intentioned anniversary gift goes awry, he still thinks he can handle the fallout. But the concrete jungle is closing in and his coping skills are unraveling.
Their love is deep, but Rob will have to admit the truth about what he really wants before they both tumble into chaos.
Review: Three years have passed since we left Matty Marcus and Rob Lovely in New York City at the end of Training Season, three years of adjusting to their new lives individually, as well as their new life together as a couple. Matty has taken on the job of coaching, while Rob has fulfilled his desire to become a physical therapist, and it’s against the backdrop of what should be a seemingly unremarkable day-to-day existence that we watch the warp and weft of the life Rob and Matty have woven together begin to fray at the edges and unravel, all while Rob alone tries desperately to keep each of those loose threads tied together.
Training Complex can be summed up on two fronts, one being that a relationship is only at its strongest at the broken places. The other being that it’s not the willingness to sacrifice for the one you love that matters but the sacrifices you’re willing to make in order to save that love that counts. And this is where we find Matty and Rob in this story, at the hair-thin line between suffering and salvation.
Leta Blake introduces a host of demons into this story: the demon of disordered eating, of doubt and self-sabotage, and it’s these figurative demons that begin to eat away at the bond Matty and Rob share—Matty’s bitter and unrelenting inner voice controlling his anorexic compulsion, and Rob’s impulse to be Matty’s everything, even if it means giving up his own happiness to keep Matty from breaking, delivering Rob to his own breaking point.
One of the most beautiful parts of Matty and Rob’s relationship has always been Rob’s Dominance and Matty’s complete sexual submission. There’s no shortage of sex in these books, not at all, but each scene in Training Complex serves to do more than provide a gratuitous moment of titillation. Through BDSM, Rob has been able to help Matty regain control over his own self-destructive impulses, but we see these two men at a crossroads in this book as well, at a point where Matty’s need for pain grows to a level that becomes too much for Rob to fulfill and begins to corrupt the nature of Rob’s Dominance and the complexion of their relationship.
There are some truly gorgeous scenes in this book which not only emphasize the depth of love between these two men but also underscores how deeply they trust each other, and I loved every one of them, even while watching them nearly ruin Rob in the process. It’s the metaphor of bondage that’s so cleverly juxtaposed—Rob ties Matty up and Matty ties Rob down in a place (both literal and figurative) he doesn’t want to be, and I believe the emotional equation between the characters and readers truly pays off in each of those scenes.
Both familiar and new characters play a role in bringing Matty and Rob around to their resolution, but it’s Matty and Rob together who, ultimately, will begin to fill in the cracks and become stronger at the places where their relationship had become so fragile. This story is exactly what the title suggests: not only is Matty a Gordian knot of psychological issues, but the story itself is a series of complications that, through trial and no small amount of error, nor lacking in humor or heartache, gives these characters resolution and brings them home—not to a place but in the comfort and strength they find within each other. Training Complex is a lovely and highly recommended follow-up to a book and characters I love.
You can buy Training Complex here: