Review: Safe and Sound by Caitlin Ricci

Twenty-one-year-old Mason has to get out of his mother’s house, where her boyfriend subjects him to unwanted advances—and won’t take no for an answer. Since she didn’t believe Mason when he told her about his uncle’s sexual abuse, Mason knows he’s on his own, and it’s up to him to raise the money he needs. He thinks he’s in luck when he takes a modeling job.

Oliver is a photographer, and getting guys and sex has always been easy for him. His current open relationship is no exception: more friendship and fun than anything. But when Oliver meets Mason, he can see the younger man is fragile and desperately in need of help. Before anything can develop between them, Mason needs to free himself of his terrible living situation and start on the road to healing. Oliver wants to stand beside him as he does. What surprises him is the discovery that he might need Mason as much as Mason needs him.

Mason is having a hard time. His step-father seems to take every opportunity to make him feel uncomfortable while his mother is out of the house, and Mason doesn’t think she would believe him about it if he said anything. Mason needs money so he can escape his step-father and Oliver is hiring models for his stock image portfolio.

Oliver is a photographer who doesn’t say no to the easy access to naked bodies in his photography studio, but does take no for an answer when his advances are rejected.

To be honest, this was pretty cliche. The older photographer finds the shy new boy endearing enough to test the waters but realises there is some damage and decides to take a different approach. Mason is inexperienced, frightened, and just wants to get away from predatory men.

I know Oliver is not supposed to present as a predator but to be completely honest it sure seemed that way to me. He was open about his interest, but in the beginning it was just about sex and since the reader already knows that something is up with Mason, it is off putting the way Oliver approached him.

There was also a scenario that was unacceptable to me, which really got my back up. Putting an abuse survivor in a risky situation is just not on in my opinion. I actually couldn’t believe it was written into the story. I wish it wasn’t in there and the plot was written with a different scenario.

I will say that Mason and Oliver developed a close relationship, and I felt they connected well after the whole hire a model and if he’s hot I’ll sleep with him part. That was tacky and I really didn’t like it. But after my initial revulsion I did come to like Oliver. I don’t know what that says about me. He seemed somewhat redeemed.

I liked his relationship with his boyfriend. I think it was the most honest out of the entire story. I could have enjoyed the story more if it was between them and Mason.

So my overall feelings were that this is a bit of a minefield. Mason is a sexual abuse survivor and I didn’t get the feeling that Oliver was right in the way he handled everything. By the end, I didn’t hate Oliver, and Mason was a sweetheart who needed the room to be away from abusers and start to heal.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion.

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