Sam's Reviews - Jan  Irving On the one hand, there was the character of Sam, who I liked very much. Sam is a marine with all his heart, he personifies the whole romatic glory of being a marine, the honor, the fierce protective instinct, the doggedness once he’s set on achieving a goal. He is the perfect soldier and a leader of men – except for the fact that he’s in a wheelchair, which in his own eyes makes him a poor copy of the man he wants to be. Still, once he’s needed – by his grand-aunt, by the tenants of his grand-aunt’s house and especially by his nephew Joe – Sam does what he has to in order to get the work done, no matter how. Sam needs to be in control, in his life as well as in bed, and the latter poses an even bigger problem for him since he figures that no other man would willingly submit to a man in a wheelchair. So when beautiful, successful, independent Tall indicates to Sam he would like nothing better than submit to him, Sam can’t buy it immediately. But once Tall has won him over, Sam seizes the opportunity with both hands. Sam has also a little bit of a cruel streak sometimes, a certain ruthlessness which in my opinion betfits a marine and lends plausibility to his dominant nature. He’s a rounded, multilayered character, not necessarily endearing but true. The author’s skill managed to give Sam a very distinctive and deliciously sarcastic voice.We see Tall only through the eyes of Sam, the first person narrator, and so Tall is necessarily less elaborated, but still a well-drawn character. Drawn to Sam by instant attraction, Tall is willing and able to see through Sam’s many layers of self-protection, the grudginess, the forbidding snarl, the wheelchair right to the man behind the mask. Tall is the very example for a pushy bottom, he’s the one who courts Sam, who initiates the next move, and who ushers the relationship forward faster than Sam would have gone. I liked this about Tall, that he went about what he wanted with determination. He’s his own man in every way despite his need for submission, able and willing of taking care of himself. Still, he was also willing to adapt himself to Sam’s smaller way of life, which made his submission all the more believable.Some of the secondary cast were also wonderful characters, particularly Joe, at times so precocious and then again, so childish and cheeky, just right for a kid who didn’t always have an easy life, or Audra, the cunning, goldenhearted matron. There was Tall’s sister Erin, pain-in-the-butt teenage princess, there was Mel, Sam’s fiercely loyal employee, and all the other inhabitants of the old house, a colorful backdrop for Sam’s and Tall’s story.On the other hand, there were parts of the plot which didn’t quite do it for me. The way Sam’s opponent, Stevenson, acted in regard to either Sam’s book and the holiday parade were too over the top to be plausible, much less realistic. The same is true for the reaction Audra’s tenants showed to Sam’s book, which, after all, is a gay master/slave fantasy romance. Even in the most open-minded community you’d expect at least one or two people taking offense to such a theme. But no, everybody is extraordinarily supportive and helpful, which is simply too good to be true. And of course there had to be the holiday miracle, which was sweet and positive, but regrettably convenient.Full review at