A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at SeductiveMusings.blogspot.com.
Calling the Shots is the fourth entry in Christine d’Abo’s Long Shots, and the first full length novel in the series. I wasn't familiar with the previous three novellas, but had no problem enjoying it as a stand-alone story.
Josh is the classic example of a guy who is there for everyone else but never asks for anything in return. He started the Mavericks sex club in Toronto to provide a place he’d never had growing up, one where people with unconventional sexual desires could experience their fantasies safely without being judged. Now he wants to open a new Mavericks club in Montreal, confident that the original location will be safe in the hands of Beth, his assistant manager and Oliver, his head bartender. When he realizes that Beth and Oliver are attracted to each other but not doing anything about it, he decides to play matchmaker, even if it means he has to be part of the match temporarily to get things moving.
Both Beth and Oliver have good reasons why they are both wary of acting on the explosive attraction between them. Beth’s previous job at the Pulled Long coffee shop had ended when she’d been fired on the spot for having sex in the back with her co-worker Mitch. It was no way for them to begin a relationship, but it was still painful for her when she caught Mitch cheating on her and kicked him out. The last thing she wants to do is endanger her friendship with Oliver and her fresh start at Mavericks by making the same terrible mistake. But it’s becoming more difficult to resist how much she wants to be with both Oliver and Josh.
Oliver is still reeling from a betrayal by his soon-to-be ex-wife, who not only cheated on him and belittled him over his submissive preferences in bed, but also cleaned out their shared bank account before letting Oliver know that their marriage was over. Now that he’s started over in Toronto tending bar at Mavericks, Oliver’s emotional wounds are still too fresh to trust anyone with his heart, but he can’t deny how drawn he is to not only Beth, but to Josh as well.
This was a beautifully written story of how three damaged hearts learn to love each other as they work through the trust issues that threaten to keep them apart. It was incredibly satisfying to see Beth and Oliver first admit their feelings for each other with Josh’s help and then turn as a pair toward Josh to show him he was just as necessary to their future as they were to his. The path to their happy ending is neither easy nor straightforward, and personal demons must be confronted along the way. Christine d’Abo does a fantastic job of showing how Josh, Beth and Oliver each bring something unique and irreplaceable to the relationship, and why they each keep making decisions that will delay, but not ultimately prevent, the future together that they all deserve.
I enjoyed Calling the Shots so much that I've already gone back and read the previous three novellas. It is the crown jewel of a wonderful series.
Sensuality level: 5 (M/M/F menage, club scenes with group sex and BDSM)