Dear Ms. Feisty:
Even though I got this book for review, I decided to go ahead and purchase an ecopy as that is my preferred mode of reading and I hadn’t read it pre-release. I haven’t seen Warner/Grand Central put out much of any erotic romances so I was curious to see what this story would be like. Suffice to say that I was pretty much expectation free, or so I thought.
Ruby Scott is a 37 year old event planner whose sex life is perceived to be something its not. She used to have a relationship with a semi famous Bay photographer whose speciality is erotic photography. Ruby was one of his subjects and his personal collection includes works featuring Ruby tightly bound. Her sexual relationship with her former boyfriend was actually quite "vanilla" to use the description of Ruby. When her friend, Meg, begins to press her for details, Ruby confesses she hasn’t experienced much but that she’ll go with Meg to pursue the knowledge of kink.
This confession or invitation is made, inadvertently, in front of up and coming musician Mark St. Crow who just so happens to be very interested in Ruby particularly because he recognizes her tattoo from an erotic portrait he purchased.
There are a lot of arc threads that are introduced in the story but few were well developed. I believe that Ruby was intended to be portrayed as a strong character who is torn between wanting something exciting and wanting something secure. The greatest problem I had with Ruby was that she came off more like a young twenty something than a thirty-seven year old. She seemed to lack security in herself as a woman, her knowledge of her own sexuality, her reaction to men. I wondered if she engaged in any introspection prior to showing up on stage, so to speak, in the pages of the book because she seemed to lack any self awareness. Contrast this with Mark.
Mark, the younger of the two, has far more personal recognition of himself as an artist, a sexual being, and as a man. His problem? Fidelity, frankly. I found that his easy distraction by other women only feeds the preconception of readers that HEAs with musicians aren’t believable. By the end of Bound to Please, I wasn’t convinced that Mark’s eyes wouldn’t constantly be straying and that it wouldn’t take but one drunken night for him to deviate from the path of fidelity. This is a bit ironic because fidelity is big part of the overall arc for Ruby whose great fear is the inability of Mark to settle down and be happy with Ruby.
Further, Ruby’s fears of instability with Mark are never really allayed but by a few assurances of Mark’s. Nothing in Mark’s behavior indicated to me that he would think of anyone but himself and his music first, even in one scene that I’m sure was supposed to be super romantic because Mark is lost in a song he’s written for Ruby. The fact is that his devotion is toward the song and not to Ruby despite the fact that she is the muse or subject of the song.
Another arc thread is that of the bondage theme. Mark and Ruby play at the bondage concept but it’s never carried out. In other words, Mark "orders" Ruby to do many things, some of which Ruby does and some Ruby does not do but there is no actual meaningful look at the bondage lifestyle and the sex scenes, except for one at the end, are pretty vanilla. However (and this is where the expectations come in) because the title was Bound to Please and the initial setup seems to be about exploring boundaries, I expected more boundary pushing than I actually read in the story and I think my expectation affected my pleasure with the book. My main frustration, though, was with the characters themselves and the lack of believable HEA at the end. (Note, there is an HEA. I just wasn’t convinced by it). C-.