In the not-too-distant future, even traditionally heterosexually dominated places like the police force don’t tolerate even the appearance of discrimination based on sexual identity, and the BDSM community is almost as open and accepted as the LGBT community. However, the kink world has a dark side. “Shade” dominants and submissives don’t like to play by the rules. In their underground shade clubs, limits aren’t negotiated and there are no safewords.
Detective “Ollie” Robertson makes it no secret that he’s gay, and he also likes to be dominated from time to time, but he considers shade a very dangerous game. It was too easy for the line between discipline and abuse to get blurred, and Ollie has seen the results of when that happens.
When Ollie is assigned to go undercover at a shade club to help bust a human trafficking ring, he is reluctant to accept. He thinks he knows just how quickly a submissive could get their head turned around in a place like that. In the end he only agrees because he is sure his captain will have his back. When the operation goes horribly sideways, Ollie is left not knowing who he can trust.
“Without a Net” is a very rare thing: a highly erotic work with a solid story line. All too often, books with lots of hot action have little or no real plot, or plots with holes you could drive a truck through. The future envisioned in this book seems entirely reasonable, and while the “shade” world Ollie finds himself in may be a bit of a stretch, it’s not much of one. The writing very successfully creates and immerses you in this world so well that this is one of those books which will likely create images in your mind that stick with you long after you finish it.
It’s also nice to see a book that doesn’t wrap everything up in one rushed chapter at the end. In a way, the end of Ollie’s undercover operation is just the beginning of a new ordeal, as he struggles to put his life back together after what he has been through, and figure out if a relationship with a man he met is possible, or even desirable. I really hate a book that has an ending that feels rushed and forced, like the author is punching a time clock or they’re afraid the publisher will say, “Sorry, we can’t print this” because it’s a dozen words over some arbitrary limit. In addition, the characters are just as real, including many colorful peripheral characters.