bdsm · Contemporary · diverse characters · lgbtqia content · Novella · self-discovery

REVIEW: The Assistant by John Tristan

The Official Description:

Burned out ex-soldier Nick Kurosawa has drifted from job to job since he lost his family in a car crash. Lately, he’s been working on and off as a bouncer, barely managing to cover his bills; an opportunity for steady, well-paying work is just what he needs to get his life back in order.

Jacob Umber, a secretive philanthropist, gives him that opportunity. Umber has fibromyalgia and needs a personal assistant to help him with the tasks of daily living—someone strong, adaptable, and, most of all, willing to let Umber take the lead.

It seems a perfect opportunity for Nick. More than anything, he craves guidance and a purpose, and Umber gives him that in spades. When Nick starts craving more, it seems an impossible complication, but even the reserved Umber can’t deny Nick’s talent—and need—for following his orders. But Umber’s shadowy past holds secrets that could undo their fragile new relationship and any hope Nick has of a normal life.

Just the facts: M/M pairing, transgender man, D/s relationship

This is a beautiful story about a connection that runs deeper than most, and a past that could unravel everything. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: I’m not sure what I expected when I began this book, but it wasn’t something as powerful as what I got. I’m new to John Tristan’s writing but I would definitely pick up another of his books.

The Assistant is quite short but there is a ton of characterization packed into it. Most intriguing, Nick is an ex-soldier who is working as a bouncer at the opening of the novel. Although he’s suffered some trauma in his life, including the death of both his mother and sister in a car accident, he’s clearly lived with depression for his entire life. There’s been something “missing” from his life… and Nick isn’t sure what that is.

A friend refers Nick to Jacob Umber. Umber is a man living with a disability who is in need of a personal assistant. In spite of the fact that he’s not clear on what the job may entail, Nick goes for an interview because he can’t realize that being a bouncer is putting him at risk of acting on some of his darker impulses when he chooses a physical brawl over de-escalating the situation.

As Nick and Mr. Umber begin working together something is unlocked within Nick. He finds that he wants to give over power and control to Umber… and develops a “crush” of sorts. But it’s not until he and Umber end up at the same D/s house party… that Nick realizes there’s even the remotest possibility that he might be able to pursue more with his employer.

Umber is very guarded about his life and doesn’t really discuss the workings of his business with Nick. That doesn’t really bother Nick, but he’s aware that he doesn’t really know much about the man he has come to need in his life. Umber is an interesting character. He’s quite a bit older than Nick, and has a quietness about him that commands attention. I really enjoyed the way he revealed some of the facts about his medical status, by simply handing Nick a file about himself.

I thought it was refreshing that the fact that Jacob is a transgender man was simply a fact that he told Nick in case he had to act as a medical advocate. It’s Jacob’s fibromyalgia that is much more of an ongoing concern, and no doubt affects his mood and emotions. It was a pleasure to read a book with a main character who deals with a chronic condition. It was just something that was part of his everyday life.

Even in such a short work, the author manages to do a bit of exploration regarding control and power. It’s much more than controlling someone physically; it can be completely psychological. The D/s scening and relationship read as very authentic to me and I found that very enjoyable.

This is a great book… if you like authentic D/s and wonderfully emotional relationship, then you’ll enjoy this one.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) D/s scenes, caning, intense pain and pleasure, chronic depression, chronic disability, fibromyalgia, a relationship between employee and staff (discussed clearly).

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of The Assistant by John Tristan from NineStar Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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