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Before You Break

Narrated by: Joel Leslie
Series: Secrets (Wells & Williams), Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

Regular price: £22.89

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Summary

Six years ago, Ellis walked into his first briefing as the newest member of London's specialist firearms unit. He was partnered with Wayne, and they became fast friends. When Wayne begins to notice changes - Ellis’s erratic temper, the effects of sleep deprivation - he knows he has to act before Ellis reaches his breaking point.

He invites Ellis to the opening of the new BDSM club, Secrets, where Wayne has a membership. His purpose? He wants Ellis to glimpse the lifestyle before Wayne approaches him with a proposition. He wants to take Ellis in hand, to control his life because he wants his friend back, and he figures this is the only way to do it.

There are a few issues, however. Ellis is straight. Stubborn. And sexy. Wayne knows he has to put his own feelings aside to be what Ellis needs. What surprises the hell out of him is finding out what Ellis actually requires.

©2017 K.C. Wells, Parker Williams (P)2018 Dreamspinner Press

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story with excellent narration

I absolutely love Eli and Jarod from Cuffs and Collars but now they have their own place Secrets and are building another family of friends to go with their Manchester family. These books are written in such a way that you can’t help but get pulled into the story, rising with the highs and sinking with the low points in their lives.
Joel Leslie does them justice. The excellent characterisation shows how passionate he is about bring a story to life and letting the listener into this wonderful world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love this book!!!

I love this book, the world building, the character building and of course the many, many voices of Mr Joel Leslie. This is my go to book and I will never tire of it. Just can’t wait for the next two in the series.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Trio
  • 06-03-18

Absolutely Beautiful Story

K.C. Wells and Parker Williams team up again to bring us Before You Break, the first book in their new Secrets series. A spin-off of Collars and Cuffs, you don’t need to have read those stories to appreciate this one, though fans will be as excited as I was to have a few beloved characters popping in.

Aptly named, Before You Break is an intimate and moving story of one man whose world is falling apart and how, using BDSM, his friend intervenes to save him. Partnered for six years in London’s Specialist Firearms unit, Wayne takes note of Ellis’ increasingly erratic behavior, bouts of uncontrolled anger, and dangerous mistakes at work. It takes some time, but Wayne finally gets the story of what’s going on in Ellis’ life. In addition to the stresses of the job, his family obligations are doing him in both physically and mentally.

Wayne presents a D/s relationship as a way to give Ellis some control and provide the support he needs to get his life back on track. Their relationship starts to change as the men navigate the challenges this presents in their friendship and as colleagues. As the attraction between them grows and they incorporate other elements of BDSM into their relationship, the passion between them explodes.

I really enjoy the way this story unfolds and what happens to both men along the way. Clearly a proud and capable man, Ellis has become overwhelmed and reached his breaking point. As he starts to see how having the support Wayne gives as his Dom affects him, other aspects of Ellis’ life begin to change as well.

For Wayne the changes are more subtle, having finally found his ideal submissive his confidence grows and his character softens. He’s tender and patient but also deliciously commanding as he guides Ellis through some very intense events in his life.

K.C. Wells and Parker Williams do a marvelous job with the dynamic between these two men and the changes that happen in their relationship. Done in the third person, we get both Wayne and Ellis’ stories, plus their impressions of what the other is experiencing. It really moved me to see how Ellis embraces his need for submission, and I enjoyed how Wayne responds to the challenges along the way. Wayne has such a sexy way about him, when Ellis gets bratty and tests his limits... so hot.

This is an intimate and emotional story and Joel Leslie emphasizes it nicely with the intensity in his narration. The consistent, dependable strength of Wayne flows throughout, whereas Ellis runs the gamut of emotions. His desperation and fear, his panicky breakdown, and his heartbreaking defeat all come across loud and clear and stay true to Ellis’ character as he navigates this journey.

Joel Leslie does an amazing job shifting between the alternating points of view, he keeps Ellis and Wayne’s voices unique and distinct. Additionally, there are a wide variety of characters in this story: co-workers, club members, family members, and Leslie brings something special to each of them. His skill with accents is on full display in Before You Break and it is a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end.

This was a deeply moving story for me. Watching Ellis discover and embrace his needs, and seeing the joy it gives Wayne to provide it was really lovely. These two unfulfilled men come together and become whole in the process. In Ellis’ words as he kneels at Wayne’s feet, “For the first time in his life he’d found his place.”

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tara
  • 26-12-18

Incredible very dynamic read.

This was my first book from these authors as well as the narrator and I must say both get 5⭐️. I was a tiny bit nervous when the beginning of the story seemed a bit disjointed and so I decided there hard to be a reason for it. I won’t put in any spoilers but this book took me through all the emotions. The scenes were Soo hot. The Dom Sub relationship displayed believable growth from the introduction of it to the main characters through the end. The secondary story lines were also powerful issues that those in not only GBT but the BDSM lifestyle. Thank you again to the author as I believe that without him, the story would have lacked that authentic feel required for a novel set in London, England.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 328DHL
  • 08-03-18

Outstanding

What did you love best about Before You Break?

What didn't I love about it is the better question. The answer to that would be nothing. I loved the whole book from the plot to the characters.

What other book might you compare Before You Break to and why?

I would have to compare it to Collars and Cuffs. Because this is it's spin off. That being said CC was awesome and I know that this Secrets series will be as well!

What does Joel Leslie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Complete and total emotion for all the characters in the book. It was very easy to paint a vivid picture in my head with him narrating.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did actually laugh a lot while listening to this book. I will be honest in saying that it also turned me of a few times as well. (If only I could just find my own club...)

Any additional comments?

I would highly recommend this book/ series to anyone that wants to hear a very well done gay erotic novel. Especially if you were into Collars and Cuffs.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cat
  • 17-02-18

Even the strong need help at times.

Before You Break is the first book in the new Secrets series. It is a spin-off from Collars and Cuffs but you can easily pick up this series first.

Wayne and Ellis have been best friends and partners at work n the special forces unit since Ellis walked in. Wayne has a few secrets though, only one of which he wishes that Ellis was more than his work partner. When he notices Ellis is moody, rundown and his health is slipping He shows his friend the other side of him and offers to take him in hand to help him. Ellis s taken aback and revolts at first.

I loved seeing Jarod and Eli again. I have been waiting a long time for this book.K.C. wells and Parker Williams has done a great job building the new setting, blending the new characters and plots together.I loved that Ellis fought his attraction at first, and the need to submit was a slow build. I also loved that he was a power bottom and not meek. Not often do you see a big strapping man as the submissive and I liked that in this book.I didn't see the twist at the end coming and was pleasantly surprised. I can't wait to see who the next couple will be.

If you like BDSM, Ds relationships, friends to lovers, coworker relationships and some very hot man-sex you will love this one!

I loved this book but liked the audio even better. Joel Leslie does an exceptional job giving these men voice and bringing out the emotion of the story. I loved the English accents and strong voice. I could listen all day while doing chores.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M.M.Rowley
  • 25-01-18

All the Stars

I have been waiting a long time for this book. K C Wells is a favorite of mine and I rub my hands with glee waiting for the audio. I had almost given up hoping that the Secrets series would make it because the second e book has been out for some time. I am forever glad I did not give in, due to the fact that I also love this narrator. Please hurry up with the next one. I really don't want to wait.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Debbie Attenborough
  • 24-04-19

awesome review of an awesome book!

Independent reviewer for Divine Magazine, I was gifted the AUDIO file of this book.

Six years ago, Ellis joined the Specialist Firearms Unit. Wayne was his partner, but Wayne wanted more, much more. Ellis is straight though. When Ellis begins a spiral downwards, and Wayne can no longer keep covering for him, he knows what he needs to do. Question is, will Ellis let Wayne help the way he wants to, the way Ellis NEEDS him to?

Book one of the Secrets series, which is a spin off from the Collars and Cuffs series. I’ve no read ANY of those, so this is brand new to me.

I really REALLY loved this one!

Ellis is, by his own admission, struggling to come to terms with his responsibilities forced on him at an early age, an age when he should have been learning how to be a boy, not a man. Wayne keeps covering for his silly mistakes but it’s getting more and more difficult. After a particularly difficult op, Wayne decides enough is enough and knows what Ellis needs. But Ellis has always portrayed himself as straight, and vanilla and Wayne is neither. Wayne knows Ellis needs to be “taken in hand” to get to the bottom of what’s bothering him, and Wayne is just the man to do it: the ONLY man to do it.

Not all of Ellis’ problems are immediately clear, and it takes time for the full picture to develop and I loved that. You don’t get a massive info dump. Ellis is. . . .difficult . . .when Wayne introduces him to the lifestyle and it is, in some places, rather amusing the conversations Ellis has with himself about what Wayne is doing, WHY he is doing it.

Wayne has loved Ellis since first meeting him 6 years ago, and to have carried that flame for so long was hard on him, but finally getting his hands (quite literally!) on Ellis is a balm to his soul. Ellis is his other half and he needs Ellis to see that.

The story unfolds at a steady pace, with Wayne kinda plodding along with Ellis till ELLIS decides he wants more, and I really did like that. Sometimes, things need to speed along but not so much here and it made for a great listen.

Joel Leslie narrates.

Leslie is, in my humble opinion, a MASTER at accents. These two guys are Londoners, and the accents were spot on. Jarod and Eli pop up, they are the new owners of Secrets and their accents are very different but again, spot on. Leslie does get all the emotions that both Ellis and Wayne are going through, and I cried in some places. I ooohhh-ed and aaahhh-ed and YAY-ed and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-ed in places, out loud. I don’t do that when I’m reading but when I’m listening I seem to be more vocal with my reactions and I can only assume that’s the skill of the narrator coming across.

I had to giggle a bit though. Mr Leslie is, I think, American, and the man CANNOT say leisurely like we do in the UK. Every other word was spot on, but that one? Nope, not right. But I won’t hold it against him, cos I LOVED this narration!

I already have book 2 lined up, and I hope that Wayne, Ellis, Eli and Jarod pop up along the way. Be great to catch up with them.

5 stars for the book
5 stars for the narration
5 stars overall

**same worded review will appear elsewhere**

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Erryn Barratt
  • 25-02-19

How far can someone go until they break?

What if there is someone there to stop the fall?

What if, in the process, closely guarded secrets are finally revealed?

I was thrilled when I heard K.C. Wells and Parker Williams were launching a new series. I adored their BDSM series Collars and Cuffs and I may have listened to the series twice and I may have mourned a bit when it ended. I was grateful the authors recognized it was time to move on and was impressed they cleverly left the door open for a new series by moving a central couple from Manchester to London. Eli and his submissive Jared have purchased an aging gay BDSM club and closed it for desperately needed renovations. The reopening is the catalyst for the new couple – Wayne and Ellis - to move forward in their relationship. What of it there is.

There were several scenes in Jared and Eli’s point of view and it increased my comfort level with the transition between series. Is it wrong for me to say they were my favourite couple from Collars and Cuffs? I suspect I’m not the only fan who felt that way. The significant age gap is still there, but Eli is more comfortable in his role as Dominant. Jared has always been comfortable in his role as submissive, but he’s less concerned about the fact he is decades older than Eli. Oh, and he brings his mother Margaret to London with them and oh my God, the woman is still as feisty as ever. Talk about a great character.

Also, some of the characters from the old series do make cameos. It was great to see all my favourites and although the Dominants hanging out is cool, it’s the puppy pile of submissives that always warms my heart. Some of them have chosen different paths – including fatherhood – and it’s good to get caught up.

On to Ellis and Wayne. I’m a sucker for a character with a lot of challenges and Ellis is definitely that man. Wayne is confident in his life and who he is. His work as a tactical police officer demands complete and total dedication and attention. Aside from his visits to Secrets (the reopened club owned by Jared and Eli), he keeps work as his main focus. He plays with bottoms at the gay club but shies away from any serious engagements. Or he has for the last six years since he met Ellis, the man who has become his best mate.

His best straight mate.

So while Wayne pines, he’s watching Ellis spinning out of control. He’s tried various methods to get Ellis to open up, but nothing’s worked. Also, he’s tired of hiding who he is from his friend. Yes, he’s open with all the guys at work about the fact he’s gay, but none of them know about his Dominant tendencies. Wanting to share this part of himself, he invites Ellis to join him at the reopening of Secrets. Ellis believes he’s prepared himself by some searches on the Internet, but nothing let him know just how much he was going to react. Soon after that night, his life comes to a head and things go right off the rails.

Cue Wayne. He doesn’t want to control Ellis – much – but he can see the younger man needs a guiding hand. He inserts himself into Ellis’ life and as he uncovers plenty of secrets, including what’s really in Ellis’ heart. And when things are finally turning around, tragedy strikes in a most painful way. Wow, did that horrific event ever affect me. The men are police officers, so violence in the jobs is, unfortunately, expected. The reality was difficult to handle for me.

I love the relationship between the two men. They’ve both held secrets close to their hearts and when they finally lay everything on the line, it was very powerful. There were also secondary characters who, at first, annoyed me greatly. Some of them might have grown on me.

Being close to breaking is terrifying and not knowing how to get out of a destructive situation can be harrowing. Accepting a lifeline isn’t easy, but if someone like Wayne comes into your life and offers kindness, gentleness, and a solution, it’s hardly surprising Ellis eventually comes around. Whether through just talking or through the firm hand of BDSM, Wayne brings calm to Ellis and the perfect resolution to the book.

Finally, I need to mention Joel Leslie. *sigh* He narrated the last few books of the Collars and Cuffs books and I was thrilled to see he was back with Secrets. He has brought back all my favourite characters and then added great voices for the new characters. As always, I cannot say enough good things about him.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • T. E.
  • 13-12-18

The Return of Jared and then some

Jared already gives this book 4 stars. I've loved Jared since he was introduced, because he is what Ive needed-- a break from stereotypical subs, showing that you are what you are; age or stature doesnt determine that. I had been STARVED for a character like Jared for years.

Ellis gives this book its final star. Ellis and Wayne, but more so Ellis, because I strongly identify with his plight, and also due to the platonic beginnings of his relationship with Wayne, which I am a sucker for. Friends to lovers will always get me. However, Ellis himself is the final star because he is, once again, not a stereotypical submissive. He's hefty, tough, nothing soft and willowy about him, but he also, without spoiling too much, is respectful. He just is what he is. Just like Jared just is.

The next thing Ill need though is a twink dom to round out the strong characters being written in this series. Not to mention this is the first instance of platonic D/s I've ever read. Bless this. And bless Joel for another stellar performance.

Spoilers***
I will say this. PLEASE stop putting subs into hospitals so there is another 'take care of them' dimension. This is the second time and it's a cheap shot.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jovan
  • 04-12-18

Excellent

4.5 stars
Narration: 5 stars

"Before You Break" caught my eye with its premise of Wayne, a dominant gay man deciding that the best way to help his best friend, Ellis, from his downward spiral is to “take him in hand” by contracting with Ellis in a BDSM relationship as his submissive, even though Ellis is not familiar with the lifestyle. Ellis willingly lets Wayne guide, protect and basically submits to Wayne’s judgement during their partnership in the Special Ops unit of the police force and as friends; thus, when after a year of increasingly erratic, temperamental and team-endangering behavior threatens Ellis’s career, Wayne decides that if Ellis refuses to take care of himself, then he should step in and help him before it’s too late.

Given that Ellis is completely unfamiliar with BDSM and sees submission as not being treated as a “real man”, Wayne’s offer is definitely not eagerly accepted, but as his world begins imploding and he learns more about what Wayne wants to do to help, Ellis very reluctantly agrees. Beyond Ellis’s initial views on BDSM, accepting Wayne as his Dom and letting Wayne help him is almost derailed at every attempt because the root of Ellis problems and deteriorating state lies in his abysmal family relationship that he tries to hide from Wayne. As Wayne’s control gives Ellis the space to breathe and reflect, he slowly comes to understand more about who he is, what his childhood cost him and what he wants, but as the dangers of their jobs impact their relationship, Ellis has to decide if he can place his full trust and heart in Wayne’s hands.

Ellis is a man who has been conditioned to believe he has to be the sole rock and provider; he cannot say no because he has a compulsive need to prove that he can be counted on to take care of others and shoulder their burdens. However, this comes at the cost of his mental state as constant late-night demands to babysit from his sister, always taking his coworkers’ extra shifts, and his demanding father and their tumultuous relationship have left him adrift and a rapidly depleting shell that is dangerously short-tempered and unfocused and one mistake away from jeopardizing his career or his life.

As a Dom, Wayne’s natural inclination to observe, support and lead has made him the guiding hand of their unit, and it makes him acutely aware of all the changes Ellis’s personality, behavior and temperament have undergone and how close he is to completely losing his best friend. Having also noticed how often Ellis has looked to him for guidance and how easily his presence calms him, Wayne decides the best way to help save Ellis and get him back on track is to bring that guidance and protection to all aspects of his life.

I was very curious as to how the premise would play out in the story, and was glad to see that the authors did not make the process from introducing Ellis to BDSM to getting him to the contracting stage with Wayne simple and straightforward. I liked how the authors incorporated Jarod and Eli from their Collars and Cuffs series to provide a safe space for Ellis to work out his confusion and questions; although, their incorporation is front-loaded and seems a little long and distracting, because the glimpses of Wayne and Ellis’s situation are intriguing and make the reader want to get to their story.

I also enjoyed the fact that the book was not filled with scenes that presented BDSM as a form of therapy or a way to avoid dealing with your inner demons. The BDSM relationship between Wayne and Ellis is all about taking care of Ellis, and is only possible through the bonds of trust and friendship they have cemented over the years, and his awareness to the fact that he has been relying on Wayne as a source of strength, protection and support throughout their friendship. The way their initial contract plays out, particularly with its focus on breaking down all the mental barriers Ellis has erected to survive in order to heal is done very well, as it makes this the primary focus of their contract and realistically and slowly builds the potential for a romantic relationship between the MCs later on.

There are a lot of emotional moments and angst that Joel Leslie’s narration really bring home. Ellis’s self-loathing and desperation, Wayne’s compassionate, unyielding support, as well as his moments of doubt and pain are all delivered with Leslie’s trademark skill and ability with accents. He does a great job covering the range of voices and, as a good audio performance should do, adds a bonus to quality source material. "Before You Break" is a great story and great listen.

Reviewed for The Novel Approach Reviews

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Katy Beth
  • 14-05-18

Standing Strong

Great start to a spin off series. I love that Wayne is willing to admit when he messes up and to be patience. His willingness to be there no matter what. Ellis just needs a helping hand to fight his demons. To know that someone cares for him and is willing to put him first goes a long way to help bring healing. I like how excepting the guys at the station are as well. They do have their crisis point but being strong brings them through.