Sterling was born with a large port wine stain covering nearly half his face. That alone made it difficult growing up in a small Texas town, where he's the easy target for every bully around. It doesn't help that his father abandoned their family before he was born and his mother is an alcoholic. Sterling gets by tending bar in the only bar in town, which is where he meets Barret. The philanthropic investor stopped in at the bar on a whim, and he's everything Sterling has dreamed of in a man, but there's no way Barret would be interested in the “disfigured” Sterling. On the contrary, Barret is very taken with the young man, especially when he proves to be a little feisty. Sterling seems to be everything he wants in a “boy” to call his own, but convincing Sterling of that is going to be a big challenge.
“Pretty Boy” spins a charming fairy tale type romance. I see Sterling as a sort of Cinderella, with the town bullies as the ugly stepsisters. Barret plays both the fairy godmother and Prince Charming. But the bulk of this fairy tale takes place after the ball, so to speak, when Barret needs to convince Sterling that he's more than the blemish on his face. It's this journey that's the core of the story.
Sterling is entirely believable as a small town boy who really needs to escape, but doesn't have the means or ability to do so. It may just be a literary construct, but it's familiar enough to be quite real. It's quite easy to see how someone in Sterling's place could come to believe that nobody can see past his looks to see the beautiful soul beneath.
We also get a good picture of Barret. One of my pet peeves about D/s stories is Dominants who seem to have an endless supply of time and money to spend on their subs. The story line of this book makes it necessary for Barret to explain how he came into money and how he feels about it. Barret's work, which prevents him from spending all his time with his boy, is also an integral part of the story line, and provides Sterling the opportunity to show he's not just a kept boy who needs a Daddy to support him. He's more than capable of taking care of himself if he needs to.
Like many books in this genre, there's little doubt about how things will end for our two heroes. What makes the book a fun read is the details of how they get there, and the avoidance of common tropes. This is the first book of a series, and there are strong hints about the subjects of follow-on stories, so it would be a good idea to get a start on this before the next volume comes out.
“Pretty Boy” is available from Amazon.