Dark and brooding, Jasper Andersson is not a good man. His business dealings are barely legal. He’s a womanizer and a casual drug user. He has no interest in becoming Keyne’s guardian, although given her limited options, he doesn’t have much of a choice. He knows he must protect her at whatever the cost.
But living in close quarters soon stirs up feelings inside them both that are far from platonic. Keyne needs a firm hand to keep her in line, but what she desires could lead Jasper into trouble...
The guardian/ward trope in romance is one of my all-time favorites - right up there with the best friend’s older brother one. However, I usually have to get my fix in historicals or in older Harlequin Presents as this a rare-ish trope in today’s contemporaries. So when I heard that Tamsen Parker was writing a contemporary (but erotic, of course) guardian/ward romance, I was incredibly excited. And His Custody met every expectation I had for it (something that is routine for Tamsen Parker books). This is no fauxboo story; Parker pushes some serious boundaries here.
Admittedly, this story ventures deep into some taboo areas, and it will not be for everyone. The hero, Jasper Anderson, gets custody of high school senior, Keyne O’Connell, after both of their parents and his younger brother Gavin are killed when their yacht sinks. Keyne is the only survivor. The Andersons and the O’Connells were extremely close and intertwined in each others’ lives. Jasper refused to leave Keyne to the not-so-tender mercies of her remaining relatives and fights hard to get custody. Thus, Keyne becomes Jasper’s ward.
As mentioned earlier, Keyne comes to live with Jasper the summer before she begins her senior year of high school. She is broken, devastated by the loss of her parents, Jasper’s parents and Gavin, who was her boyfriend. But Jasper provides a stable home and structure for Keyne. While nothing sexual happens between the two until after Keyne is eighteen and after she has finished high school, there are times that their relationship ventures into questionable areas - like when Keyne sleeps with Jasper in his bed. Also, there is obvious sexual tension between the two which makes it no surprise when that sexual tension becomes something more (again, after she is 18).
Once Jasper and Keyne begin having sex, things between them get down and dirty fairly quickly. Jasper is a dominant man who is not easy on his lovers. Fortunately, Keyne’s burgeoning sexual desires match Jasper’s almost exactly. And while they get together, they don’t broadcast their relationship as they know it could cause them issues. As a result, their relationship seems to exist in a silo for them. This is threatened when Keyne goes to college in the fall when the two need to deal with the realities of their situations.
There are many things that make His Custody a taboo story: the 14 year age difference (or thereabouts), the fact that Jasper is Keyne’s guardian, the kink and power exchange, and Keyne’s fragile mental state after the accident. However, Tamsen Parker makes the romance work despite these taboos - or more accurately because of them. She doesn’t shy away from forbidden topics but faces them head on and the story is that much better for it.
His Custody is taboo romance at its best, add in the creative kink that Tamsen Parker is well known for and you have one of the best books of 2017.
Tamsen Parker: http://www.tamsenparker.com
Book Disclosure: An ebook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.