I would rate this 4 stars.
Vic Newcomb has been best friends with Ash since boarding school. He is briefly in book one. You don’t have to read book one or read these in order to understand the plot. Since he’s suffering from hypertension, Ash books him in with his masseuse, Amani Idrissi. Vic is the rich, egostistical, privileged, white man. Amani is the poor, talented, hardworking black man working his way through school. Vic is intrigued by him and during the course of their conversation offers to pay him for cello lessons. He ends up paying him for something else entirely, and that twists the layers of intimacy they are creating. As they both fall in love, trying to remember this is a business contract, they hurt each other.
I liked the characters and wanted them to be happy together. The author’s writing style weaves the audience into their intimacy with alternating POVs. Even though the words master and sub are used, the kink is mild and has more to do with voluntary power exchange. This also plays with the bi for you/out for you trope. With all of Amani’s pride at the beginning of this, it all but disappears as they become a couple. It seems unlikely that the money was such a big deal, is just no longer an issue. It also seems strange Vic doesn’t tell Ash about Amani. There are never any ramifications to a rich, famous, straight CEO suddenly dating a femme, black Moroccan man. In other words, it’s a nice fantasy, but I wanted a little more realism–a little more depth. However, there are references to Richard Gere, so if this is a take on Pretty Woman, that may be unfair of me and there is something to be said for writing the world how we want it to be.
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