Review: Without a Net by Lyn Gala

Oliver Robertson has been assigned to go undercover in one of the shade clubs that litter the seedier parts of town. He has never engaged in the sort of edge play found in those places, preferring the BDSM in the more mainstream control clubs. However, to find the criminals behind a series of kidnappings, he must go in undercover as a shade sub. The mission becomes more complicated when his captain asks him to collect evidence against a lieutenant who might be a dirty cop.

The case quickly gets out of hand, and Ollie finds himself caught between wanting to do his job and not knowing who to trust. That confusion grows worse when a number of sexy and dominant men challenge his assumption that he prefers safe, contractually negotiated sex. It turns out he has more of a wild side than he expected, and given that he’s surrounded by dangerous men, and he can’t distinguish the good guys from the bad, that’s terrifying.

When Ollie gives his trust to Travis Goode, a dominant who appears to be a federal agent, he might be making the connection of a lifetime or dooming himself forever.

Publisher's Note: Contains dark BDSM elements. 

I read some of the early reviews of Without a Net and was more than a little trepidatious about charging in. Considering I've publicly declared my love for LG multiple times it was a little panic inducing to consider the possibility that I might have to give a less favorable review.

Thankfully, *manic laugh* that didn't happen!

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Dodged a bullet there.

Initially there was quite a bit of gender and sexuality labeling which filled me with dread. I believe I've made my feels known on the whole labeling thing, but I feel like I should splain a bit to avoid any butt hurtedness. You see, I cut my reading teeth in the thriller genre. When I moved into romance/erotica that came with certain concessions namely that 99.9% of the time an HEA/HFN is a given, so the only puzzle pieces I'm left to play with are character development and I like dissecting characters (and people in general but that's not a topic for this review) so when that's taken away from me it takes the fun out of it. For me. Which was my chief complaint about Turbulence, but it didn't last overlong here nor did I find it excessive. Awkward? Yes. Unnecessary? Maybe. Excessive? No.

What I did find strange was the lack of world building. It's set sometime in the not too distant future with only minor differences between now and then which begs the question why not use a contemporary setting? Of which I'm mostly sure the answer would be the shade vs. control clubs. To my mind shade is to RACK what control is to SSC and I'm back to a contemporary setting with a thriller thread running through it akin to L.A. Confidential, one of my favorite movies. 

"If we were in a relationship, I would be a shade Dom. I would know every twitch of your body better than you do, and I would enjoy playing with every reaction. You'd give up your safe word, not because I wanted to hurt you, but because I planned to drive you so far into an endorphin reaction that you couldn't use it even if you were in serious trouble."

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Ollie is a cop who's clearly being discriminated against and his captain calls upon him to go undercover in a sting operation to root out the corrupt officers. Up to this point Ollie's only ever played in the control clubs and holds a certain amount of animosity towards the shade clubs. He gets a fast education right out of the starting gate though. The whole first scene between him, Buck and Allemande was brilliantly executed. It exemplified what I like best about LG's writing. While it is intense and harsh it perfectly illustrates the difference between observing an act and being on the receiving end of it.

"Sometimes the head gets rewired and you can't go back."

Shortly thereafter Ollie comes into contact with Malin. Malin who is so dominant I could actually feel the dominance wafting off my kindle has plans of his own and soon shows Ollie what shade domination can be. Malin is unscrupulous and kind of a bastard, but I'd read a book with him as the MC. In a heartbeat. Because unflappable BAMF! He's friends with a federal agent who just so happens to be Ollie's neighbor, Travis, whom Ollie's been attempting in vain to deny his attraction to. So it's fair to say Travis and Ollie have chemistry from the start and it only intensifies as they join forces and go undercover. Travis is a seasoned shade dom and Ollie poses as the well trained (read "broken in") shade sub. To lend authenticity they maintain their roles leading up to the meet.

Seemingly, the most important variant between shade and control is trust and Ollie implicitly trusts Travis. The deeper their connection becomes the more Ollie comes to realize that shade subbing is his preference. Now he just has to figure out how to keep his chosen shade dom. LG showed all of Ollie's evolution, insights, desires and angst with aplomb. This is LG's bread and butter if you ask me. She never fails to show how her characters feel about one another even from a singular perspective.

Ollie's a strong character who knows his own mind and isn't afraid to go toe to toe with Travis despite Travis' intimidating demeanor. He's also very forgiving. I'm not sure I would've been as forgiving in his shoes, but I respect why he makes his decisions. Also, I found it refreshing that he and Travis are equals in and out of the bedroom/play room/living room. Ollie's never portrayed as fragile or meek as many are wont to do with a sexually submissive character. And let me tell you the sex is HOOOOOOTTTTT!!!!!! 


After the case concludes there is one major dubious consent fly in the ointment that keeps Travis from pursuing a relationship. But the connection they have won't be denied. Try as they might it's clear they're both miserable and stubborn; a match made in heaven or by an unethical friend who's got some unorthodox methods. Tomato. Tomahto. 

It's like I'm falling out of bed
From a long, weary dream
The sweetest flowers and fruits hang from the trees
Falling off the giant bird that’s been carrying me
It's like I'm falling out of bed from a long and weary dream

Just exactly as I remember
Every word
Every gesture
I'm a heart in cold ground

Like I'm falling out of bed
From a long and weary dream
Finally I'm free of all the weight I've been carrying

Every woman blows her cover
In the eye of the beholder
I'm a fish now out of water

Falling off a giant bird that's been carrying me

I fell open
I laid under
At the tip out
I was just a number

I wanna slip it over
And get back under
And if you think this is over
Then you're wrong
If you think this is over
Then you're wrong

If you think this is over
Then you're wrong
If you think this is over
Then you're wrong

Like I'm falling out of bed from a long and weary dream
Finally I'm free of all the weight I've been carrying

When I ask you again
When I ask you again
Wake me up, wake me up


I loved every minute of how their relationship played out from the authentic dialogue to the secondary characters who pushed and nudged when it was needed and added positively to the narrative, but I especially loved that they meet each other half way. To me it solidified their partnership.

Highly recommend to fans of kink.

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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