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Michael’s Wings, by Tiffany Reisz (Book Review, Spoiler-Free, Appropriately NSFW)

One of the tags I use a lot in this blog is “these aren’t the penises you’re looking for,” but I happily can’t use that label for this review.

These are DECIDEDLY the penises you’re looking for.

Oh, were you looking for a safe-for-work book review? Let’s start here: Michael’s Wings successfully proves that a series of stories centered around a male/male BSDM couple is absolutely lust-inspiring regardless of which direction you’re sliding toward today on the sexuality scale.

Fans of the Original Sinners series already know the peripheral tale of young submissive Michael and his older, richer, sexy-as-sin beloved dominant, Gryphon. Sure, Michael’s Wings could’ve just been a series of filthy sex scenes using various BDSM scenarios (well ok, honestly it IS that, and sexy as hell): easy peasy, everybody’s tired and sated, job done. A complacent writer might’ve gone that route, using established characters to fill in a bit of the universe with more sex to sell: this is not that book.

Never one to shy from controversial expressions of love and lust, Tiffany Reisz gave us the high level events of how these two lovely men came together (ahem) as additional color threads in Nora’s, Soren’s, and Kingsley’s story lines over the course of the eight Sinners novels. In Michael’s Wings, she gives us a novella and a series of short stories that bring Michael and Gryphon fully to life, with just enough Nora, Soren, and Kingsley thrown in to give appropriately irreverent commentary on the duo’s struggles.

Michael grows up over the course of the collection, and transitions over time from the emotionally broken teenager to an independent adult with ambitions and desires outside of the apartment he shares with Gryphon. Since his place in their relationship began with a suicide attempt, an abusive father, and a pretty all-encompassing rescue by his rich, beautiful lover, Michael had to figure out whether he was really in love, or just the damoiseau-in-distress. Was he capable of being a real partner in the relationship? Could he stand on his own as an adult? Could he be a husband?

Gryphon, on the other hand, has to discover whether he loves enough to do what’s best for Michael, regardless of his own pain. Patience is not a virtue of his, and boy does he get to painfully learn how to let go of control and be patient. Since he’s older, more established, and is already secure in who he is, Gryphon’s job is to let Michael catch up in maturity, regardless of his own wants and needs. Nora, Soren, and Kingsley all make appearances in order to beat sense into him. Literally.

Michael’s Wings is full of all the romantic, inventive sexual encounters a reader could hope for, including the blush-inducing, uncomfortably hot BDSM scenes. About halfway through the first tale I realized I could never sit down in their apartment in real life (because all of her characters end up being people you’d really like to know in person, don’t they?) knowing how much naked cock has been on that couch. The candle wax, the toys. Wowza.

The thing is, the explicit quality of Reisz’s writing isn’t limited to eroticism: it’s the anguished and raw emotional issues spiced with delicious sex that make her work so exhilarating (and wonderfully exhausting) to read. Gryphon and Michael have an incredibly complicated relationship. Love drives them both, and learning to love so intensely that they can heal while avoiding being completely consumed by each other is a delicate balance they struggle with for the entire book.

Michael’s Wings is an excellent addition to the Original Sinners universe, giving us the long-awaited middle to Gryphon and Michael’s love story. Be prepared to stay up until you’ve finished it, because you won’t be able to put it down.

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