The Boxer - Jan  Irving This was a nice ending to Dane and Noel's story.

I have to admit I had some difficulty getting back into the story for the first half of the book. The Janitor left me with a certain impression of the two: big Dane, simple and naive, submissive to his lover and Noel, sure of himself, enjoying his new found freedom. Like before, the author was not very detailed with specific dates so it took a while to understand how much time had passed since the fight with Narone. Equally, the issues between the main characters took a while to figure out and it was a bit frustrating trying to understand what could have separated Noel and Dane.

But beyond that, the story was just as real and emotional. Dane sacrificed his love of boxing to please Noel but in doing so, he no longer felt a true man, unable to enjoy that which defined him. It made him insecure and his 'faulty' equipment only added more to the burden. He wanted to protect Noel and his fighting skills were all he had. Noel had changed as well, growing more confident and proud of having Dane as a lover. But his fear pushed Dane away and miscommunication, guilt and fear on both sides led to several weeks (months?) of distance between them. I was glad that Noel finally understood that some things couldn't be changed about Dane.

It took a while to get accustomed to the role switching in the relationship. While in the beginning of the first book, I expected Dane to top, it took me by surprise in the sequel, having assumed their roles were set in the bedroom. Also, their role-playing using the term "daddy" was a bit disturbing but it sort of made sense in the end, in the overall image of their playfulness.

It was a good sequel, giving closure to a few things and detailing other more. There is no recipe for a perfect relationship and I liked reading about Dane and Noel working together to build their future despite differences. Like Dane said: 'You gotta go the distance'.