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REVIEW: Knight by Kristen Ashley

Dear Ms. Ashley:

I was on Twitter a few days ago, and author Carly Phillips mentioned Knight by Kristen Ashley as being “50 Shades-ish”. While 50 Shades did not work for me, I adored Bared to You by Sylvia Day, and I’m a sucker for a serious alpha-hole, so I decided to buy the book.

Knight Anya Gage is a twenty-seven year old woman working multiple jobs while studying at beauty school. One day, she’ll open the best spa in Denver, but for now, she’s got very little to her name. One of Anya’s closest friends, Sandrine, is in the market for a rich man, which explains how Anya got to a party at Nick Sebring’s house. Nick is an ass. He’s arrogant, untrustworthy and a sleazeball. The party is full of drunks and people who are high as kites. Anya’s had enough and goes to find Sandrine, who is in a clinch with Nick out on the deck. When Anya informs Sandrine it’s time to go home, Sandrine breaks the cardinal rule, and sends Anya home alone (but not before Nick can proposition her for a three-way). Anya goes to find her coat and get her cell phone so she can call a cab and bumps into a big man, who is clearly furious about the party being held in what must be his home, as well as Anya stepping into his room to improve her out of date phone’s cell reception. The man is Knight, and he takes one look at Anya and announces he’ll be driving her home. Anya protests, but loses the argument. Knight only gets more upset when he sees the state of the apartment building Anya lives in. He chastises Anya for taking risks with her safety, and after checking her apartment to be sure no one was in it, leaves.

The next day, Anya comes home to find various repairs being made to her apartment building, and even more disconcerting, a package for her containing a very expensive new cell phone and a message from Knight, “Anya, no woman should be without a functioning cell.” Anya is thrilled and freaked out at the same time. She knows that Knight is a no nonsense kind of guy, and she’s extremely wary of getting involved with him. She promptly sends back the phone with a “thanks, but no thanks” message. Knight shows up the next night, and forces the phone on Anya. She finally capitulates and wonders why Knight is so insistent about taking care of a woman who is a total stranger to him.

A few nights later, she ends up at Slade, the hottest club in Denver. She’s informed by her friend, Vivica, that Knight owns the club. To Anya’s dismay, Nick Sebring is there. He’s furious with Sandrine, who has been texting and calling him incessantly since they hooked up. He puts hands on her, and Anya intervenes. Nick agrees to let Sandrine go, but Anya has to have a drink with him. Anya agrees in order to diffuse the situation, but she’s terrified. Nick got very scary in the moments where he was accosting Sandrine. Just as Anya orders her water, trying to decide how best to get through the drink with Nick, Nick is grabbed by bouncers and escorted from the club. Knight, who Anya now knows is Nick’s brother, swoops in a pulls her away.

“What…the fuck…is the matter with you?” he asked slowly, his voice still vibrating, the fury still radiating and I blinked.


I didn’t do anything.

And I thought he should know that and not mistake it.

So I yelled it, leaning towards him and everything.

“I didn’t do anything!”

He came at me fast. I retreated, not as fast. I hit something, went into a freefall and my bottom landed sideways in a chair, back to a cushioned armrest, legs over the other one. Knight leaned over me, one hand on the top back of the chair, one hand in the seat beside me, face an inch from mine.

God, God, God, he was scaring the hell out of me.

Why was he angry? At me!

“You put on that dress, didn’t you?” he whispered and it was sinister.

“What?” I whispered back.

“You…do not…leave your house…dressed like that…without being on the arm of a man like me,” he ground out on a terrifying staccato with scary pauses.

“A man like you?” I whispered.

“A man who’d shoot another man in the face if he even looked at you. Yeah, Anya, a man…like…me.” [Kindle location 1332 – 1346]

It is then that Anya begins to understand the controlling nature of Knight. He is a big, burly, strong man, and one who is clearly dominant about every aspect of his life. She really wants no part of a man who scares her the way he does. And yet, she capitulates when he asks her lunch. When she gets to lunch, he lays it out pretty clearly for her. He’s really interested in her, and he expresses it by a combination of intimidation and sweetness that woos her, against her better judgment, into staying.

Being with Knight is not for the fainthearted and he lays out his preferences in precise terms:

“Okay, Anya babe, before I take you home to my bed, it’s important you get me,“ he said quietly.

I stared at him and when he didn’t go on, I nodded.

“I think you get from the times you’ve been with me that I like control,” he went on.

Well I got that all right.

I nodded again.

“Right.” His arms gave me a squeeze then one hand slid lightly up my arm causing goose bumps the entire way until it went over my shoulder and finally stopped at my neck where he curled his fingers around. Then he dipped his face close to mine. “What you need to get is I…like…control. In all things.”

“Okay.” I whispered.

“So, I tell my woman not to drink, she doesn’t drink. I tell her not to dance, she doesn’t dance. I do these for my own reasons and you comply. You don’t, you answer to me. You put one of my boys out, you again answer to me. And, baby, you don’t want to answer to me.”

Right, okay.

This I did not like.

“Knight – “

His hand at my neck clenched gently and his face dipped closer. “I won’t hurt you. I would never hurt you. Not the way you’re thinking. But I would make you pay and how you’d pay might involve pain.”

Oh my God.

“What?” I breathed.

“An example, you got this, you knew it before now, you told Kurt you were gonna dance anyway, right now you’d be over my knees a different way. Do you get me?”

Oh. My. God!

My body went still.

Knight pulled it closer. “The punishment will fit the crime, Anya. Not lasting, no marks and it won’t go on for hours. And after, always, I’ll take care of you. Tonight, you look good, that dress looks good on you and men’s eyes were on you. I didn’t like that. In your section, they can look, they can see, they cannot get close. On the dance floor, they see more, you movin’ the way you do when you dance, you give them more to see and they can get close. You’re mine. No one touches what’s mine, gets close to what’s mine, they don’t even think about it. You on that dance floor, I saw them watching you and I knew they were thinking about it. That bothered me. I stopped it. If you don’t get it now, you will that I won’t ask you to do something you don’t like or that makes you uncomfortable. I’ll only ask you to do shit or not do shit that’s important to me. If I’m important to you, you’ll do it. And all this is the same when we’re in bed.”
[Kindle location 2923-2950]

As Anya and Knight embark on their relationship, we see him provide more and more for her. Knight is extremely wealthy, and he insists on providing things for Anya that are beyond her means. While she offers resistance occasionally, more often she takes the gifts. She becomes quite dependent on him, and does fall in love with him. But as Knight’s professional life intersects with Anya’s, will she be able to accept all that he is?

This book worked for me on one level, and failed for me on several others. The romance between Knight and Anya once it got going was, for the most part, relatively vanilla. He’s dominant, and their love scenes did occasionally have soft elements of BDSM in them, but the scenes were not the kind that exercised my comfort level. With one strong exception: Knight insists that she call him “Daddy” while they’re having sex. My supposition is that this is a way of exercising dominance over Anya, but for me, it rang of an inappropriate father/daughter thing, and was something that made me skim over some of the love scenes for that alone.

Knight does control most aspects of their relationship, providing a posh, lavish life for Anya, who had nothing, the phone, a Mercedes, more clothes than she knows what to do with – he provide it all. Sadly, there are no emails between the two of them a la Fifty Shade of Grey. I guess Daddy doesn’t email.

It’s a fantasy life for Anya, and one I enjoyed reading about, until we learn more about Knight’s profession. Slightly more than 80% through the book, Knight comes clean to Anya about his “other” profession. Knight is a pimp. He has fifty-seven women who work for him, and he took them from his “silent” partner when he first set up his club because they were being mistreated. Knight tells Anya:

“We clashed. I made moves. Got him out. Then rebuilt and grew his empire, such as it was. Girls that weren’t clean, I got them clean. Girls who didn’t wanna be in the life, I left them go. He had forty-two girls. I have more because they come to me. And they don’t got track marks or habits, I take them on. I take their backs. They take clients they wanna fuck, Rhashan and Kathleen make arrangements, they do what they want, only what they want and a man tried for more, we make certain he knows we’re not down with that and that message is delivered crystal clear. That’s our reputation, I made it that way so that shit does not happen and my girls go out safe.” [Kindle location 6211]

He also tells Anya that it’s just business, and he doesn’t mix his home life and his business life. And she accepts it.

And here is where I get off the train.

Up until this point, I’d thought that the romance was over the top, but a decently entertaining read. I thought Anya was a pushover, and that Knight offered her something that I would never be able to accept, but the story itself kept my interest, and I was rooting for the couple to make it. But I could not accept the hero’s profession. And I lost any slight respect I had for the heroine when she did. Because here’s the thing – she doesn’t kick up a fuss, she doesn’t get angry, and she doesn’t push back at him about the lack of morality it takes for one human to sell another, under any circumstance. Oh no, Anya tells him that she loves him and accepts him, and tra-la-la, we’re on to the happy ending.

Really? Really? How do you come back from that? How do you redeem a hero who is an actual purveyor of human flesh? Well, you don’t. Despite a very unicorns and rainbows epilogue from the author, any credibility the heroine had in my eyes was lost when she blithely accepted the hero’s profession and moved on with her life. I was outraged by it, and still am.

In the end, while many of the elements of the building love story worked for me, I was unable to get past what I found to be a fatal flaw in Knight. On some level, even through my incredulity over what I was reading, I still thought, “Wow, bold choice” about the author’s decision. In the end, the heroine’s complete lack of reaction to the hero’s profession, and the fact that nowhere after the revelation does it address whether Knight gave up the profession (why would he? The heroine clearly doesn’t care that her man is selling women) make Knight an unsuccessful romance for me.

Final grade: D-





I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.


  1. pamelia
    May 03, 2012 @ 14:18:20

    Hmmm… Well, this is one of my favorite books. The revelation of Knight’s side business was not so shocking to me. I guess I picked up on some hints about it along the way (some of the phone calls she’d overheard earlier on). I also think it was greatly mitigated by his past, his mother’s past and the fact that he didn’t condemn his mother for it. It was kind of his version of fixing something in the present that he couldn’t fix in the past.
    I’m also of the strong opinion that sex work should be legalized and regulated to protect the women and men who make their living at it, so obviously that’s not going to be a hot button issue for me. I think though that you’re right that Anya’s reaction to this revelation fell short of what it needed to be. I expected a bit of sorting it all out on her part since she spent a lot of time thinking long and hard about other stuff that came out, but that didn’t get shown. It didn’t make me dislike the book any, it just made me wonder.
    Overall though the whole book (“Daddy”s and “baby”s and all) really really worked for me. I really appreciated that Knight knew exactly who he was, why he was the way he was and what he needed — that kind of self-possession is nice. Plus that first kiss? OMG. Best ever!

  2. Shiloh Walker
    May 03, 2012 @ 14:18:50

    Ah… yeah. That would kill it for me. I was following this on twitter and I was pretty interested in in it, even despite the daddy thing, but the pimp crap shoot it down the drain. Too many women are in prostitution because it’s forced on them and they don’t have a lot of options.

    That a hero and his heroine are ‘cool’ with him selling women for money…ah, No. Just…no. Especially if it’s not addressed in any way, shape or form.

  3. Ceilidh
    May 03, 2012 @ 14:21:34

    Wow. This is a book that actually exists.

  4. Tina
    May 03, 2012 @ 14:40:21

    Heh! Kinda reminds me of Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice. The hero is a Russian Gangster who is also an illegal arms dealer. The heroine, clearly tipped to the fact that maybe, just maybe this guy isn’t on the right side of law asks him if he deals drugs. He says no and she sighs in relief. While I admit I have a soft spot for the LMR Alpha-holes, I had to roll my eyes really hard here. Dealing drugs was the deal breaker for her? What? She could have at least asked if he dealt with child pornography or human trafficking.

  5. Hannah E.
    May 03, 2012 @ 14:47:26

    Good lord. This book would make be furious. Controlling stalker heros don’t do it for me under any circumstances, and a controlling stalker pimp would be worse. I can’t stand to read about a woman who gives up her dignity, her freedom, her sense of self to be with a controlling man, and I can’t stand reading about a man who would prefer to be with a doormat instead of a woman he can respect as an equal.

  6. Lauren
    May 03, 2012 @ 14:48:10

    I couldn’t read this book -based on the fact alone of “Hi baby – I’m giving you a 4S Iphone and fixing the pipes in your apartment building. Now, you aren’t allowed to walk to the store in that outfit because people might look at you. Do you have a burqa handy? No? Well, just know this – if people even look at you I will punish you.” *cue smarmy porn music from the ’80’s*
    Hero walks out, bell buttoms flapping in the wind and gold chains chiming and he struts away.

  7. Brie
    May 03, 2012 @ 14:55:35

    @Ceilidh: best comment ever! LOL

  8. kzoet
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:00:55

    Kati, I adored Bared to You by Sylvia Day and glad you mentioned it here. Funny that a cell phone was an issue in Bared To You too but it looks like the similarities end there.

    “A man who’d shoot another man in the face if he even looked at you. Yeah, Anya, a man…like…me.” [Kindle location 1332 – 1346]

    Soooo, yeah, this (along with the human trafficking is a-ok attitude) pretty much squashed any chance I’d pick this book up. That’s not a sexy, dominant alpha male talking; that’s a sociopath. A violent one at that. Ick.

  9. readerdiane
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:05:10

    I’ve been on a Kristen Ashley Read-a-thon and Knight didn’t do it for me either. But don’t let that stop you from reading her other books. The Rock Chicks are pretty hilarious and the Burg series isn’t bad either.

  10. Julaine
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:08:17

    …and I add another Wallbanger to the list. My thanks to all you ladies who suffer so that I my cat doesn’t have to dodge another missile, or worse I void my warranty on my Kindle.

  11. Sue T
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:17:45

    Wow, the fact that the guy is a pimp is what people object to? Not the control freak stuff that in other relationships is a bad thing or the woman who falls in love with a guy that scares her to death and controls every aspect of her life? I’m so sad for the world today. We can accept rape, murder, women calling their lovers Daddy, forced seduction and non-con erotica (as heard on another), but wow, the guy’s a pimp. THAT’s what makes this NOT work for some? That’s the jumping off point?

  12. Linda Hilton
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:19:04

    No. Just no. So very no.

  13. Darlynne
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:19:24

    No. Not in any sense does this sound “romantic,” nor is it by any definition I know a “love story.” Love and romance require, imo, free will, partnership and some kind of balance (not necessarily or always equal). Different strokes. YMMV. Whatever. I appreciate the detailed review and the work that went into it, but, no.

  14. Linda Hilton
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:20:38

    @Sue T: I guess I need to add: Everything no.

  15. Ridley
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:23:21


    I’m also of the strong opinion that sex work should be legalized and regulated to protect the women and men who make their living at it

    Well, so am I, but pimping isn’t sex work. It’s human trafficking. Pimps are horrible people.

  16. pamelia
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:24:54

    For those of you who think the pimp thing would be a deal breaker, I can respect that although I think he’s less of a “Huggy Bear” type and more of a protector and facilitator. As I mentioned, his mother was a prostitute and regularly abused by her pimp/johns, so as a very young child he saw what happens to women who don’t have someone to protect them. Is he altruistic? No, but he doesn’t let anyone get away with hurting the women he employs and he gives them a safe place to work and control over what clients they choose so that’s a grain of salt to take maybe.
    I found him to be really genuinely sweet. He’s supportive of Anya’s ambitions and her friendships (even going so far as to rescue one of her friends from a bad spot). He makes his rules, sure, but the “punishments” are erotic in nature to the extent that she actually “acts up” intentionally to incur a spanking or strapping or two.
    I also don’t think Anya’s a doormat. She’s a woman who genuinely wants someone to take care of her as she’s been responsible for her own self since she was seven and her parents died and her crazy awful aunt took over to make her life hellish. The excerpts listed above only show her negative reactions to his proposals and there are many more points where she realizes that what he says he wants is what she wants too.
    Would that be something I would go for? Hell no. But she genuinely wants that and it works for them in what I found to be a really touching way.

  17. Ridley
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:37:16

    @Sue T:

    We can accept rape, murder, women calling their lovers Daddy, forced seduction and non-con erotica (as heard on another), but wow, the guy’s a pimp. THAT’s what makes this NOT work for some? That’s the jumping off point?

    Here’s how I see it. The sketchy stuff that goes on in non-con erotica works for me because it’s not a romance. Erotica doesn’t ask me to accept what the characters do as the actions of good people. I’m not expected to accept the story as that of a romantic partnership that promises a lifetime of happiness. It’s a sexual fantasy scenario offered without endorsement.

    Romance, however, wants me to find the characters sympathetic and generally heroic. Someone who traps women into sex work, abusing them when they give him trouble (and this is what a pimp does), is not a sympathetic or heroic character. That’s an abusive sociopath. Sociopaths aren’t good marriage material. And unlike the other icky elements of the story – calling him Daddy, his controlling behavior – being a pimp isn’t just an over-the-top storytelling device to show how passionate he is. It’s just him being a horrible human being.

  18. pamelia
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:38:07

    @ Ridley: Sure, pimps are horrible people. I just don’t think what Knight does is “pimping” in the classic definition. He doesn’t push clients on his women. He doesn’t utilize their services himself. He doesn’t interfere with their choices of who they choose to take as clients. He provides a safe, upscale club from which they can operate, sets high rates for their services, ensures that their boundaries are respected and takes immediate and brutal action when their clients cross those boundaries so that they know not to mess with the women he employs. Thuggy? Sure. Violent? Yes. A total fantasy that would probably never happen in real life? Probably. My point was that since sex work is illegal and there are no official protections for sex-workers, he provides the needed protections.
    I’m not saying he’s an angel or ready for sainthood or that what he does is palatable to the general public, but I can tell you that his motives/actions are not so completely heinous.

  19. Eva / TXBookjunkie
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:40:56

    Well said @pamelia regarding pimp not being a deal breaker. If I recall correctly, he “inherited” the stable of girls when he found out his business partner of the club was abusing them and not looking out for their welfare. Knight explains that he provides protection and I think it was implied that he doesn’t actually actively recruits. Though I found it strange how his family was okay with him being a pimp. However, I wish if the anti-hero was going to be “evil” he acknowledged he was such (as @Tina mentioned regarding LMR’s Dangerous Passion).

    I felt that the heroine glossing over the fact that he was a pimp and was okay with it seemed out of character. There are a lot of issues and problems with this book along with the need for editing, but Kristen Ashley is my crack. I can’t help but hit buy whenever she releases something new. I’ll say though that this was not exactly the best of her work – especially since this was something new she was trying out (most of her stuff is more along of the sweet, emotional romance with alpha/caveman heroes – who aren’t as controlling as Knight).

    Nice review, Kati!

  20. Shiloh Walker
    May 03, 2012 @ 15:53:02


    Well, so am I, but pimping isn’t sex work. It’s human trafficking. Pimps are horrible people.

    Ridley… this.

    Just… this.

    yes, pimping is a deal breaker, because the guy is supposed to be the hero of the book. Pimping is generally NOT an admirable quality. I’m not talking about adult escort services where the women are happy to be doing what they are doing. Pimps peddle human flesh and the women in it, as I said in my first comment, are usually in it because they don’t have much choice. It’s not much more than slavery.

    And I don’t care if he views himself as a facilitator or a huggy bear or whatever. If he’s addressing himself as a pimp, if he’s viewed as a pimp and if he’s selling flesh to make his bucks and none of the other aspects are addressed, that’s very much an issue.

    I’d also very much take an issue with anybody deciding whether or not I drink, how I dress, etc, etc. If it’s a BDSM book, maybe I can set aside reality for a bit, providing I get the rationale.

    I could even set reality aside and work around the idea of the pimp thing… IF the issues are addressed. But to bring the ‘edgy’ idea of having a pimp hero, I mean, c’mon, you want a bad boy hero, you got the set up, right there…and then not fully address all the aspects? All the negative aspects that go hand in hand with a man who sells women for a living? That is what a pimp does. It doesn’t matter what language you pretty it up with. That is what a pimp is, what he does. Maybe he’s nice about it and maybe he doesn’t let people get away with hurting them (and they will STILL get hurt…it’s the nature of the beast-the men who hurt them might pay for it, but it doesn’t undo the damage). Regardless, he’s still making money they earned while their backs, selling their bodies and a lot of them were probably forced into it early on and many of them likely feel they have no other alternatives or options. And his woman is ‘okay’ with this. Is any of that addressed?

    If not…It’s a cop-out.

  21. Isobel Carr
    May 03, 2012 @ 16:10:52

    @pamelia: “I just don’t think what Knight does is “pimping” in the classic definition.”

    Is he providing all those luxuries for our heroine by profiting literally off the backs of women, or does he just allow them to safely operate on his premises? Cause there’s a BIG difference between the two.

  22. nearhere
    May 03, 2012 @ 16:18:58

    I’m a huge Kristen Ashley fan and was excited by the premise of this book. KA said she wanted to write an anti-hero who didn’t reform and become good at the end of the story. So the pimp part wasn’t my problem. I kinda liked the anti-hero premise. I just found this book boring. And the whole “daddy” thing yanked me out of the story each time it was uttered. Oh well.

    I still am pacing the floor as I wait for Tack’s book. This book didn’t work for me but I’m still a huge KA fan.

  23. Jez Morrow
    May 03, 2012 @ 16:27:10

    @Ridley: Good post, Ridley. There’s a place for antiheroes. This one doesn’t sound like my type, but back in the day I was married to Michael Corleone.

  24. Tina
    May 03, 2012 @ 16:31:31

    I am really curious about what his role in the sex trade is.

    Is he a pimp, i.e. a person who forces the women to sell sex for his own profit where they have no choice — ie, they are trapped nad can’t get away from him?

    Or is he more….a madam…Monsieur? Who acts as the procurer/facilitator where he takes a cut of their proceeds in return for protection?

    It sounds to me that the former is more the issue rather than the latter.

    Like others I have a huge problem with the former because it is a form of exploitation and sexual slavery. And yes, no “hero” should be doing that mess.

    However, I am politically a liberal, so the latter doesn’t bother me so much because to my mind it reads as simply a business arrangement. And frankly big legit business moguls do much shadier shit every day than facilitate for women who choose to sell sex.

  25. pamelia
    May 03, 2012 @ 16:46:14

    “Or is he more….a madam…Monsieur? Who acts as the procurer/facilitator where he takes a cut of their proceeds in return for protection?”
    @ Tina: This.

  26. Faye
    May 03, 2012 @ 17:19:25

    @Ridley: When worlds collide: my hockey-loving husband just showed me an article on Puck Daddy about Karl Alzner’s dogs. When I reached the comments I saw your fantastic avatar, so familiar from Dear Author. Your comment there was, of course, as great as I’ve come to expect!

  27. Jane
    May 03, 2012 @ 17:22:08

    My impression from reading this book is that the riches that Anya profited by were made off the backs of other women. The “hero” in this story took over this stable of beaten, oppressed women from another guy and then gained about a dozen more. He brags that because he treats them so well, they want to come work for him. The club he owns appears to be where the stable of girls can be perused and arrangements made, but no drugs of course. Why trafficking in prostitution is okay but drugs is not is a weird moral line for the author to draw in the book.

    What was irksome was that Knight tries to play his role as a pimp off as somehow a heroic deed. Anya is relieved when she hears that no one on Knight’s staff and not Knight himself partake of “freebies.”

    Anya’s vocabulary seems to consist of “Okay” and “Yeah” which later transforms into “Okay, Daddy” and “Yeah, Daddy”. It was almost comedic.

    The writing is fairly rough. This is an example: ““That’s mine,” he whispered, his eyes on my mouth as his thumb slid back then he watched is slide over the apple my cheek. ”

    and Knight himself speaks in nearly unintelligible sentences:

    “You are perfect. I wanted to fuck cut, first, I’d wonder if I lost my fuckin’ mind not havin’ sweet and soft and all woman. Then, I’d fuck cut. But I don’t want cut. I want my cock in a woman who’s sweet, soft and…” his face got close, “all woman.”

    (This is a soliloquy to reassure Anya that her terrible secret doesn’t bother him. Her terrible secret is, no lie, her Buddha belly. I think I cackled out loud at this scene:)

    “I need to tell you something,” I stated quickly.
    His eyes focused on me. “What?”
    I didn’t tell him what. I wasn’t thinking. I was freaking out. I wanted him, was scared how much I did, I was scared of what having him meant and lastly, I was scared about what I’d just agreed to.
    “It’s important you’re warned,” I whispered.
    “With the way you think you see me, you need to know before you find out.”
    His head jerked slightly, his eyes held mine intently and one of his hands twisted my fingers free and came up to curl around my neck.
    Then he whispered, “Baby, what?”
    “My tummy’s round,” I whispered back and he blinked.
    Then he repeated, “What?”
    “I, um… I’m not perfect. I have a little Buddha belly.”

    Sadly, the story’s cracktastickness peters out at the end with too much justification about why being a pimp daddy is an honorable thing along with a rainbow and unicorns ending. Still, it was readable for the first 60% or so, notwithstanding the Daddy references (because those just made me laugh out loud).

  28. Faye
    May 03, 2012 @ 17:22:45

    I just realized my last comment was way too sunny for this thread. Oops.

  29. Jane
    May 03, 2012 @ 17:56:30

    @Faye: Nah, it’s all good.

  30. Ruthie
    May 03, 2012 @ 18:17:11

    This one sounds like it would’ve crossed the line for me long before the pimp thing. I forget sometimes the extent to which I’m committed to feminist romance, and then I read dialogue like that and I just can’t even imagine feeling okay with it. That’s not “dominant male,” that’s “sociopath,” as Kzoet said above.

    I will say, though, that I read Sweet Dreams, another Ashley book, and while the state of the editing is sad and the first three chapters are glacially slow, I found it un-put-downable after that. Sweet Dreams has a biker hero (that’s motorcycle biker, not bicycle biker) and is set at a biker bar in a biker town; the heroine is an upper-middle-class white lady coming off a bad divorce and carrying 20 or 30 extra pounds. The hero of Sweet Dreams is controlling — there’s a similar cell-phone-buying scene — but he stays firmly on the protective side of the line, and (this is probably what makes it bearable for me) his protectiveness drives the heroine up the effing wall. So there’s an ongoing negotiation in their relationship about the degree to which she will accept the way the hero wants to love her, and the book is, most fundamentally, about communication. It’s an interesting study of romance across class lines, though I’m not sure Ashley intended it to be. It’s also got four thousand too many speech tags, long descriptions of outfits, out-of-left-field point-of-view changes after the 90 percent mark, and a shocking overuse of the word “baby.”

    Still, if you can handle all that and still enjoy a book (some can, some can’t), I’d recommend checking out Sweet Dreams as an alternative Ashley book to this one, which even her die-hard fans seem not to have liked.

  31. Ellie
    May 03, 2012 @ 18:21:19

    I’m so tired of the KA fangirls on another board who gobble up every word she cranks out and excuse every over-the-top macho hero she has knuckle-dragging through the book. I read and liked several books by her, but they have been getting increasingly bad, in my opinion. The guys grunt and control, and the women fall at their feet, slave to their hormones. Yuck. And now we’re supposed to overlook illegal activity? Yeah, I not only got off the train, I decided to walk. Way healthier.

  32. Jenny Lyn
    May 03, 2012 @ 20:39:11


    I’m waiting for someone to spin the story the other direction, make the woman the rich, controlling alpha-hole in the relationship. Just without the familial endearments and pimpage.

    Nice review, KatiD!

  33. Hannah E.
    May 03, 2012 @ 21:18:08

    @Jenny Lyn:

    Yes! Someone please write that story!

  34. Kaetrin
    May 03, 2012 @ 21:52:38

    Welcome KatiD!

    This one doesn’t sound like my cup of tea at all. The dialogue quotes you gave for Knight make him sound like a thug a la the Godfather/Goodfellows rather than a sexy, rich, intelligent alpha hero type. Maybe he was supposed to sound thuggish? But, that’s just not attractive to me I’m afraid.

    I enjoyed Bared To You quite a bit – what fascinated me about it was the mutual obsession of Eva and Gideon – Eva wasn’t dependant on Gideon and she definitely pushes back (plus, as a bonus, Gideon is not a pimp!). Eva gets as jealous and assholish from time to time as Gideon does and the “epic” nature of their romance/obsession was so compelling for me.

    But, the description of Knight doesn’t sound like it’s my thing. I’ll pass, thx :)

  35. Jane
    May 03, 2012 @ 22:54:45

    @Ruthie: Sold!

  36. Maili
    May 04, 2012 @ 00:47:04

    I was going to joke “let me take a look at my calendar. Yup, still 2012”, but a mention of that profession stopped me in tracks.

    Granted, it’s not the first time that a hero or heroine owns a sex trade business, but they are usually found in historical romances (usually as brothel owners, e.g. Derek of Kleypas’s Dreaming of You who owns gambling dens and attached brothels; this is usually glossed over in reviews, but to be fair, Kleypas didn’t specify it in many details), contemporary bonkbusters (think Jackie Collins) and a couple of erotica novellas.

    But while I don’t at all object to hero or heroine as a sex worker, I do draw a line at one being a pimp or sex trade business owner. I’m already not that comfortable with it in historical romances. Well, I’m sure a talented author can pull it off, but in this case? Nah. Especially seeing how not only he’s a pimp, he’s an overbearing daddy with grooming skills.

  37. Ruthie
    May 04, 2012 @ 05:16:03

    @Jane: Good! It was one of those books that I liked but didn’t like that I liked. I’m still not sure I approve of myself for having devoured it. But sometimes reading is that way. :-)

  38. Janet W
    May 04, 2012 @ 06:03:29

    I’m blanking out on everything — title, author — think maybe author’s last name is Lee? But it was an historical and he was a wife-groomer. How can I put it better? He took beautiful aristocratic *poor* girls under his wing and sold them to rich older men (I think the idea was the groom would soon kick the bucket leaving a rich widow behind). He got a cut and maybe the bride’s family did too? There was an impoverished gentlewoman living in the house that did the manners bit. It was pretty steamy. The hero did everything but PIV — and the gal-in-training sleeping naked beside him bit felt a lot like early Coulter. They *of course* visited the friendly neighbourhood brothel … so how did it end. The hero, need I say, was doing this work to save his estate in the country. He falls for one of the candidates (I think he only does one at a time — it’s not quite steamy enough to have rooms full of girls in training LoL). One of his brides gets knocked about my her husband and he makes sure physically that that never happens again. Is he a sex-trade worker? I dunno, it’s an historical and I have it on my keeper shelf. Don’t judge :) Would I read Knight? Based on recs on twitter and goodreads, I downloaded the first chapter and it didn’t grab me. A hero that wanted to be called Daddy would be a turn-off for me. If he’s providing space for them to ply their trade and taking a cut, plus protection, well, he’s not my kind of entrepreneur but *grey area* … like Balogh’s The Precious Jewel, Kit the brothel owner is running those girls. I should read the comment thread again: is he negotiating with the johns for the services and prices? It’s too far on the dark side for me but then I find most contemp books with plush dark sex clubs pretty unenticing — wasn’t the hero of Banks’ Sweet Persuasion an owner of one? What a rather dour book that was. I prefer Emma Holly’s “jolly” brand of BDSM.

  39. Jill Sorenson
    May 04, 2012 @ 07:13:34

    @Janet W: That is a Jade Lee historical! I really enjoyed it. Can’t remember the title. Very steamy stuff.

    @Maili: I was going to mention Derek Craven also.

    Daddy/pimp issues aside, the excerpts are too extreme for me. I wouldn’t want a man getting in my face or telling me what to wear. Taking charge in the bedroom, okay. Taking charge of my life? Nope. Also, the way her heroes talk, with dropped words…what kind of accent is that? Alphahole?

    Nice review Kati!

  40. DS
    May 04, 2012 @ 09:39:27

    Disney pimp!

  41. Kiahzoe
    May 04, 2012 @ 10:24:56

    You know I could probably get past everything mentioned in the review. Controlling hero, use of ‘daddy’ (although it’s not my taste), even the pimp profession but this bit of dialog?

    “With the way you think you see me, you need to know before you find out.”
    His head jerked slightly, his eyes held mine intently and one of his hands twisted my fingers free and came up to curl around my neck.
    Then he whispered, “Baby, what?”
    “My tummy’s round,” I whispered back and he blinked.
    Then he repeated, “What?”
    “I, um… I’m not perfect. I have a little Buddha belly.”

    Now that is a dealbreaker. She sounds about as deep as a puddle.

  42. German Reader
    May 04, 2012 @ 13:40:06

    From a comment above Knight’s role in the sex business reminds of the CEO of the Pascha Brothel in Cologne . The owner/CEO is a guy in his fiftys, who is living an ordinary life with his wife of 20+ years and 2 children in a 400 citizen village. Some would call him a pimp but he operates the brothel like a hotel with boutique, hairdresser, beautysalon, laundry service, bistro, restaurant, 24h security, medical services…..
    The prostitutes are renting rooms for 180 Euros/day ( including tax …LOL) and make their own arrangements with the men, they don’t pay a cut of their income to the CEO.

    I don’t have a problem with the hero’s profession and would like to read the book but from the excerpts above I can’t make any sense of much of the dialog, so I’ll just have to skip this.

  43. Luce
    May 04, 2012 @ 20:48:17

    Based on your great review, Kati, I can honestly say that this is one book that would really tempt me to slam my nook Simple Touch against the wall. Between the secretly-a-pimp “hero” (who’s also a dude who, apparently, doesn’t know the meaning of the word “boundaries”) and the total doormat “heroine” (who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with her beau being a pimp because he doesn’t take freebies OR deal drugs…really, wtf?) , I’m wondering why would anyone consider this book a romance?

  44. Anne
    May 05, 2012 @ 06:14:06


    I’m in agreement with you. What you describe there is more or less a fair brothel owner. You get them here in Europe wherever prostitution is legal and both men and women have made a business of providing a safe work situation for them. I know a few of them in person, I’ve played in clubs they maintain as a guest, and I know prostitutes and prodommes working in such establishments (none were coerced, all were very happy having someone like that establishing the basic workplace).

    So no, his profession is no dealbreaker to me. The rest would be if it is as described.

  45. DS
    May 05, 2012 @ 14:53:20

    It’s just a business in Cologne though. It’s legal and the sex workers have rights. In Denver, as in most of the US, it is illegal. I assume from the review that this is set in Colorado.

    The workers would be subjected to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment or a hefty fine. In fact the male main character is also engaging in criminal behavior by keeping a disorderly house or living off immoral earnings. The women would be far more often and severely punished than those who engage their services or who facilitate their services. The inequity of power between the pros and the men who run them is where the idea of the pimp as hero fails to be acceptable to me.

    Unless the pimp was paying off the police his place would eventually be raided and shuttered for at least a time. The IRS would troll through his records looking for undeclared income.

    When there isn’t a turf war going on the main role of the pimp is to bail his women out of prison so they can get back to work.

    Odd to think if the author had set this in parts of Europe he wouldn’t have been an unrepentant bad boy at all but a savvy business man. How much of a bad boy could he be if his premises were inspected by OSHA?

  46. Moriah Jovan
    May 05, 2012 @ 16:36:13

    I agree that it sounds like a brothel (oh, hell, I kept thinking of a beauty salon where each hairdresser pays “rent” on her booth).

    So. I feel compelled to point out that if the women in this brothel didn’t work *there* (legality is irrelevant to my point), they would be working at *another* brothel or, worse, on the street. I will assume that, since it’s an actual business the monsieur (male madam) keeps the women clean of both STDs and drugs, or makes sure they are.

  47. Ridley
    May 06, 2012 @ 13:06:38

    Even if he were a mere brothel keeper, he “inherited” these women from someone else. Someone else who abused them.

    What part of this doesn’t sound like misogynist exploitation to you guys?

  48. Athena Grayson
    May 10, 2012 @ 11:07:12

    Based on the excerpts, this sounds an awful lot like a maybe-smooth parody/sendup of 50 Shades? How little of a jump is it for the hero to make the heroine’s “punishment” one day to service him and a friend, or “just get into the car with this good friend of mine for an hour, because I tell you what to do.” Prostitution doesn’t always start with Susie waking up one day and making a keen business decision to go into business on her back. It starts when her boyfriend asks her to “do a favor” for a buddy, or she finds out her boyfriend is in hock to a “buddy” and she can save him for the simple price of an hour with her legs in the air.

    That’s where this one seems a send-up. A subtle point-out to the “50 Shades” crew that one small step in the next logical direction is Baby Goes Ho. But maybe I give too much credit. I’m used to reading Roxy Harte’s BDSM stories where the mains are seeking out extreme-sport sensation and exploring their own psyches, rather than just going along with the first tough guy to offer his protection.

    This one would be a wallbanger for me based on the pimpage. You cannot get me to excuse slavery by saying your owned people have it nice. A collar is still a collar, no matter how much you try to tell me it’s a necklace.

  49. Char
    May 11, 2012 @ 13:54:22

    I’m relieved to see I’m not the only one who thought the characters’ dialogue was terrible. Over 85% of the time I didn’t understand a word Knight or Viv was saying. I mean who the heck actually talks like that? I found so many typos and grammatical errors in this book that this actually made 50 Shades look good to me which I also had serious issues with its grammar.

    The “Daddy” thing bothered me too. I was shocked to find out he was a pimp. I figured he was probably some big crime lord’s hired muscle or something alone that line but a pimp? Wow! I think this one of the worse books I’ve have read and not because the of pimp issue but the characters’ dialogue was too unrealistic and very hard to understand.

  50. Jade Cary
    May 31, 2012 @ 14:26:03

    I’m reading the book now, and aside from the author needing to invest in a really good editor, I’m liking it. You know going in that Knight is an anti-hero, and there is an appeal (which is why the book is doing well, as is 50 shades) to a man who takes over–otherwise the romance genre would have been dead long ago. I’m pleased to see books like this out there that tap into our comfort zones a little bit and beg the question, ‘could I do this?’ I’d love the book more if an editor fixed the ‘oh mys’, the sentences in the first 1/4 of the book that run on for 50 words or more, and the incessant gangster-speak. I get style, I really do. But a good editor would advise the author on style versus taking the reader out of the story with badly constructed dialogue. I was nonplussed by pimp/daddy. It’s not out of line with the genre. The writing bothered me more.

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