Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

BDSM

REVIEW:  You Really Got Me by Kelly Jamieson

REVIEW: You Really Got Me by Kelly Jamieson

YouReallyGotMe

“There will be pain but only if she asks nicely. ”

Kendall Vioget fell hard for Police Chief Jason Holloway, until the best sex of her life became something more, something she wasn t ready for. Afraid of what he asked of her, afraid of her own desires, she walked away.

Now her brother’s fiancee has gone missing a week before the wedding, bringing Jason back into her life. She needs his help, but her body is losing the battle to resist the hunger to satisfy the dark cravings he can set free.

Jason understands what she needs, and when her increasing submission banishes the self-doubts he’s been carrying around, he knows a perfect match like this comes along only once in a lifetime. Until the missing persons case becomes a murder investigation, and suspicion falls on her brother.

Kendall will do anything to protect the only family she has left, and Jason will do anything to make sure a killer is put behind bars. If he doesn t handle this case right, the most precious gift she could have given him, her trust, will be destroyed. Permanently.

Dear Ms. Jamieson,

I really liked Rule of Three and enjoyed the sequel, Rhythm of Three.  But this book was, unfortunately, not a success for me.

I was struggling from the very start and I only finished it because I had committed to a review. It has a “psychic Dom” and a TSTL heroine.  I felt the authorial hand manipulating the plot often and it wasn’t good.  The characters frustrated me and there was basically no courtship so I found it difficult to buy into the romance.

The first scene is a sex scene between Kendall and Jason.  At first I thought I had missed some pages or that I had inadvertently picked up a sequel and had missed the first book.  I actually went to check on Goodreads. But no, it’s a stand alone book.  Jason is a Dom and he “knows what Kendall needs”.

“Tonight… I’m going to give you what you’ve been wanting.”

Her eyes widened again and she sucked in a breath. Rough sex.

“You need this,” he said, keeping his tone gentle, holding her gaze steadily. “You know it, Kendall.”

“Need what?” she whispered with another nervous glance toward the bed.

“Need me to take control.” She bit her lip, studying him.

“Been watching you, babe.” He reached out and touched gentle fingertips to her jaw. “Every time… I know you want more.”

“I’m afraid,” she confessed, still in a whisper.

“Afraid of me?” His thumb brushed over her bottom lip. She shook her head, and pressed into his hand.

“N-no.”

“Afraid of yourself.”

“Maybe.” She closed her eyes briefly. “I don’t like to let someone else be in control.”

“I know that, sweetheart. You look after everyone else… but who’s looking after you?” He knew the answer to that. There was nobody who looked after her. “That’s why you need this. Total emotional release. I promise you, baby, you’ll learn about parts of yourself you never have.”

They proceed to have sex: there is no mention of a safeword or any previous discussions of hard or soft limits.  He uses a crop on her (it appears to be fairly gentle) but there was (apparently) no prior agreement for this.  I don’t know how they met, why they were attracted to one another; anything about them really and they’re having sex with what appeared to me to be a lack of complete consent.  It made me uncomfortable.

Kendall leaves after this sexual experience and says they can’t see one another anymore.  Not because Jason did things she didn’t consent to though. No, it’s because he brings out things in her that she feels ashamed of and unwilling to face.

Fast forward a month and it is a week before Kendall’s brother’s wedding.  Kevin and his fiancee Natalia are getting married at the family vineyard in a week.  Kendall has organised a fancy wedding because it was Natalia’s dream but the bride is too busy to do much and so is the groom.  So Kendall has done most of it.   Kevin doesn’t come home all weekend and when he does, he looks like he’s been on a bender. He says he hasn’t seen Natalia since Saturday afternoon.  On Monday, Natalia is reported missing by her roommate and Jason, who is the police chief, becomes involved.  Kevin lies to the police and tells them he was home all weekend and asks Kendall to cover for him.

It wasn’t a big deal telling the police that Kevin had been home all weekend. Because if Kevin knew anything about where Natalia was or what had happened to her, he would tell the police. She was absolutely sure of that. So it wasn’t as if they were hindering the police investigation or anything.

Oh, mama.  To add to this, Kendall does not press Kevin for the truth of where he was and what he was doing.  This was just unbelievable to me.  Because this is a romance and Jason and Kendall are supposed to end up happily ever after, I knew Kevin couldn’t be the murderer. The obvious and heavy-handed efforts to make his behaviour suspicious just made me roll my eyes.

In the midst of this, when Kevin is under some suspicion (nobody yet knows that Natalia is dead – the reader knows from the blurb), Kendall and Jason start having sex again.   Jason says he’s going to take things really slow this time but then he totally doesn’t. It’s not very long at all before he’s spanking her.  It is here that a safeword is mentioned for the first time.  Apparently she has one.  (It would have been good to know that in the opening scene, all things considered.)

Jason is a “psychic Dom”.  He just “knows” what she needs, he “knew” she was a “natural submissive”.  Ugh.

From the first time he’d met her, something inside him had responded to her, to her natural submission, her need to be dominated. Something about her brought out every dominant, protective instinct in him, everything he’d been trying to repress.

and

He’d heard about it, but had never before experienced that feeling of “clicking” with a submissive, of being so perfectly in tune with the signals she gave off. He seemed to know exactly what she wanted before she even knew it, and knew how to give her pleasure. It reassured him that he was right, right about her, that they were headed for something incredibly intense together, an erotic and intimate bond like nothing he’d ever had with a woman.

I hardly got to see Kendall and Jason together apart from when he was in his police chief role or when they were having sex.  I didn’t get a feel for why they liked each other or any other courtship-like things.  Because I missed that, it was difficult for me to see why they were together at all.  Well, apart from the “clicking”.

After a few days, Natalia’s body is found and Kevin has failed a polygraph so things aren’t looking good for him.  Kendall is upset and goes over to yell at Jason (how could he do this to her, etc etc, Kevin is innocent because he’s her brother!). Jason, seeing that Kendall is getting “hysterical” spanks her.  Yes, that’s right, he takes consensual (let’s pretend they did talk about limits and stuff) BDSM play and puts it into another sphere altogether and Kendall’s reaction is just to get turned on.  Really?

There follow more obvious efforts to make Kevin look guilty and to obfuscate the killer’s identity, Kendall still doesn’t press Kevin for the truth.

Kendall’s actions in the last portion of the book veer so far into TSTL territory as to risk the health of my ereader.  I can’t reveal what she does because that would be too spoilerish.  Suffice it to say she puts herself in a very dangerous situation, entirely for the sake of the plot, making the police look incompetent in the process.  But Jason has a haunted past (he was formerly an FBI hostage negotiator) and his demons have to be dealt with too.

There were times in the book where I deliberately took a deep breath, tried to change my mindset and look for something good in the story.  But I struggled.  I suppose the stuff about winemaking was interesting, but I would much rather have seen relationship development.  Some of the sex scenes (the ones where I wasn’t worried about consent) were hot.  I liked Kendall’s friend, Erin.  But those things weren’t enough to save the book for me.  It pains me to say this, but You Really Got Me gets a D from me.

regards,
Kaetrin

 

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle

REVIEW:  The Dom Project by Heloise Belleau, Solace Ames

REVIEW: The Dom Project by Heloise Belleau, Solace Ames

cover39698-medium1

Dear Ms. Belleau and Ms. Ames:

The Dom Project is erotic romance with heavy emphasis on the erotic side. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have a happy, satisfying ending — but it’s set in a milieu in which the traditional romance “rules” simply do not apply. And it creates that world so well, I didn’t miss them.

While on the trail of rare photographs of a kinky 1930s sex symbol, special collections librarian Robin notices that her best friend John is surprisingly knowledgeable about BDSM terms and paraphernalia. And John realizes that his best friend might actually be a “buttoned-up-real-fucking-life-naughty-librarian.” He knows her habits so well that it takes him little time to track down her blog, The Picky Submissive, which chronicles her efforts to find a dom who meets her needs and isn’t a jerk. And for the first time they open up about the fact that they’re both kinky, and that Robin is profoundly dissatisfied.

[Robin] “I’ve been trying and I’ve been waiting. I’ve been communicating my needs and I’ve been letting go of my highest standards and it’s just not working. Maybe I just attract assholes. Maybe the creepy guy to nice guy ratio among doms is higher than among ‘normal’ dudes. Maybe I’m not really a submissive at all, and if I was, I’d be okay with guys calling me whore when we’re out to dinner or telling me to put my hair in pigtails or grabbing me and telling they’re mind readers.”

[John] “Maybe I can prove you wrong.”

With the basic premise that there won’t be sex — “I don’t see you that way, and you don’t see me that way, and really it’s a moot point” — John proposes that he help Robin define what submission means to her. “I know all about you. I know what makes you tick. If I can’t dominate you, then maybe nobody can.”

Does that quote make John sound like an arrogant douche? He’s really just appropriately confident and assertive — as well as highly ethical and conscientious — and he does indeed know Robin very well.

They begin with a carefully worked out contract and a systematic approach — testing out an intriguingly long list of items such as Denial, Restraint, Pain, and Role-play to find what really floats Robin’s boat — but there’s nothing clinical about the intensity of their sessions. Some scenes are more for fun and help Robin write off certain aspects of submission; others take her out of the stratosphere. Although the narrative is third person, we’re right there inside Robin’s head, which makes the scenes blazingly erotic. As the one who has to stay in control, John’s point of view is naturally less overwhelming, but it shows his growing attraction to Robin as he strives to please her without breaking their contract.

This isn’t my usual beloved angst-fest. Problems do predictably arise, as John and Robin begin to have stronger feelings for each other and want to change the rules. And of course they both have fears about it, and make some mistakes. (Robin sometimes uses her safeword! John sometimes screws up a scene! It’s almost like they’re supposed to be real people!) The strength of the story is in the powerful D/s writing and the authenticity of the characters and situations. They have genuine issues, like the fact that toys and equipment are expensive, and that John has other play partners/lovers (both women and men) that he doesn’t want to casually discard. (They do move towards exclusivity over the course of the book.) I also really liked the inclusive of an old, ailing kinkster as a character, in a world which is usually portrayed as the exclusive domain of the young, beautiful, and rich.

Incidentally, John and Robin are an interracial couple, and it does feel almost completely incidental. Robin is white, John is apparently Chinese-American. (He may be one of the few contemporary romance heroes to have tattoos that aren’t cultural appropriation.) Although John’s family members are important secondary characters, race doesn’t enter into the story much, except for a wry comment from John about how he’s perceived as a large, tattooed Asian man. Since Robin and John have known and loved each other for years, the lack of issues around race seems plausible.

I really enjoyed this, as a smokin’ hot story and as a vivid portrait of people leading unconventional lives. I would have liked to see more romantic feeling between John and Robin that doesn’t stem from sex; the book used standard short-cuts to squeeze in the love. And I yearned to know more about how they ultimately made their relationship decisions. The ending left some unanswered questions, though maybe that’s just me wanting things tied up neatly, so to speak. I give The Dom Project a mostly satisfied B.

Sincerely,

Willaful

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle