Dear Ms. Lyons,
“Under His Spell” is a book I find hard to grade. And might even find a challenge to review properly but here goes. I like a lot of things about it, while other things make me nervous. It’s the first (sorta vanilla) BDSM book I’ve ever read from Harlequin but I’m not sure how accurate it is or that it’s even supposed to be since I don’t think Nicky is truly a submissive so much as just looking for a way to relax her super control over every aspect of the rest of her life. In sort, I’m left with conflicting views of it even a day after I finished it.
Nicky Taylor is a driven executive. A total control freak. And magician Jimmy Ray has loved her forever. When he spots her in the audience, he realizes he finally has a chance to fulfill his own lifelong fantasy. With a little help from Dr. Mesmer, that is…
Who’d have guessed that a little hypnotism would unleash Nicky’s wildly sexual nature? Or that Jimmy’s powers of persuasion would encourage her to burn up the bedsheets with him that night…and the nights after. She’s the perfect woman.
Unfortunately Jimmy’s pretty sure Nicky’s still under his spell. And he has to change that. Because he’s quickly falling under hers…
Nicky and Jimmy – call me Jim – are both smart business people but Nicky is the driven one – which I thought was a nice flip on the usual Harlequin hero Uber-Businessman. Nicky is the one with her nose to the Blackberry, a thousand emails to read and a weekend of work. But you even turned her upside down a bit and had her be in the middle of her MBA class instead of Miss Over Achiever. Making Jim have been the shy one during their adolescent days was a third change that I enjoyed as well.
Kudos for giving Nicky and Jim nice families without major hang ups who care about each other. I also like the brother dialogue between Jim and Rick though Jim sharing Nicky’s list of sexual fantasies with his brother sounded a squick alarm. That’s just not something which anyone beyond a bed partner needs to know about, IMO.
Nicky and Jim, despite getting to know each other naked very quickly, take the time to learn about each other outside of their sexual fantasies and develop a trust in each other that’s great to see. You also avoid rushing them to the altar which is a pet peeve of mine. I was surprised that they didn’t end up starting their own company with Jim doing the brainstorming and Nicky handling the business end but the ending you gave them works well enough for me.
Now, for the stuff that I’m still not entirely sure about.
Maybe there have been other bondage books published by Harlequin and I just haven’t read them but this is a first for me. And I’m not sure how far you meant to go or how deep into this lifestyle this is supposed to be. I haven’t read many books which feature D/s or bondage but this one seems to be on the vanilla end of the scale. But that sort of makes sense since both Nicky and Jim don’t know much about it themselves and are – pardon the phrase – feeling their way along. I like that they establish a safe word to use but then Jim ignores the one time Nicky uses it even if he gives her a mind blowing orgasm.
And mixing hypnotism in with the sex worries me almost as much as it does Nicky. Is she really hypnotized and under Jim’s control, even though he says she’s not? Are her responses to Jim’s questions about what they’re doing while they’re doing it all her own? I’m not sure and that’s what makes me (o-0) about it all. If Nicky finds sexual freedom and release in being blindfolded, tied up and made to obey Jim – great. I’m happy for them. If they enjoy role playing sexual fantasies – and this part I felt more comfortable with as these fantasies seem to be uninvolved with any hypnosis – have at it. But there are enough questions in my mind that the D/s part of the plot leaves me leery.
I would recommend the book for Nicky and Jim’s relationship outside of sex. And maybe, sorta for the sex scenes themselves since they’re beyond what I’m used to reading in a Harlequin line. But I don’t think they are a reason for anyone truly interested in trying these things or for those who are already into them, to buy it. C+