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BDSM

REVIEW:  Caught Up in You by Roni Loren

REVIEW: Caught Up in You by Roni Loren

Dear Ms. Loren:

I’ve really enjoyed your Loving on the Edge erotic romance series. For the most part, it’s quite light BDSM, and it features strong heroes and heroine who are easily liked.

CUIYKelsey LeBrock is a pastry chef. Or, she wants to be. To achieve this goal, she works at a local diner where the owner lets her bake and serve her creations, and she waits tables. The highlight of every day is when Wyatt Austin comes in. She gets to flirt with the good looking businessman, and he gets to covertly ogle her ass. On the weekends, she works as a Domme at The Ranch, an exclusive BDSM club. She’s working towards being a full time trainer at the Ranch, but must complete Submissive training in order to do it. After a close call a year before with a man who almost raped her, Kelsey is very reluctant to give up any aspect of control to do the Submissive training. She’d rather stick to being a Domme. Her life is definitely turning around after a youth spent making lots of bad choices, including dating a drug runner who she helps to put in jail. One day while at the diner, the brother of the guy she put in jail accosts her, and Wyatt helps her escape. Kelsey immediately realizes she’ll have to move. She can’t risk being on the radar of the gang selling drugs.

Wyatt has his own problems. Ever since his brother, Jace, went off to start up his own business, Wyatt is the heir apparent to his father’s company. Wyatt is an introvert, and really dislikes schmoozing clients, but his father is insistent that he go away for the weekend with a perspective big account and land it. Wyatt will need a date for the primarily social weekend, and decides that Kelsey would be the perfect person to go with him. He offers her an obscene amount of money to escort him, and tells her no strings attached, just companionship. Kelsey, being a straight shooter, lets him know that she’s as interested in him as he is in her and that she thinks they should have a sexual relationship. She makes him a deal, she’ll go with him on the business trip, and he’ll help her complete her Submissive training. Wyatt is taken aback. He hasn’t really practiced BDSM since college, and isn’t sure that the life is for him. But he knows he wants Kelsey and he knows that he wants to dominate her. So he agrees.

There’s a lot to like about this book. Kelsey is an interesting character. Young and vulnerable, having had a rough life of her own making, and determined to make life better for herself. Wyatt is a more stock character. He’s dominant and bossy and of course, fantastic in bed, and slips right back into his role as a Dom without really ever skipping a beat. He’s got all of the protective instincts that most alpha romance heroes have, and he definitely displays them. But they have a nice chemistry, and have several extremely steamy love scenes. The tension in the book comes from whether Kelsey, unlike all the other women Wyatt has been involved with, will be able to accept that his work is his life and the question of whether Kelsey’s past will come out and embarrass Wyatt. Given that Kelsey is completely honest with Wyatt about her past, this “issue” isn’t really that big, nor does Kelsey seem particularly worried about Wyatt working so much. The end result is that the conflict within the book felt manufactured and weak.

While I enjoyed reading the book, I felt that the story could have been punched up quite a bit. There was very little that was unexpected or unique about the story. But it certainly entertained me for the few hours I was reading it. I still really like the series, I just didn’t think this was the strongest entry. For that reason, I’m giving Caught Up in You a C+.

Kind regards,

Kati

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REVIEW:  Burn: The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks

REVIEW: Burn: The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks

Dear Ms. Banks:

Those who read Dear Author regularly know that I have been on a billionaire kick for quite some time. A while ago, I read and recommended Rush, the first in your Breathless trilogy. I’m pleased to say that book three in the trilogy, Burn, worked just as well for me.

Burn: The Breathless Trilogy by Maya BanksAsh McIntyre is widely considered to be one of the wealthiest men on the planet. Along with his two best friends, Gabe and Jace, they own a hotel conglomerate that employs thousands and makes them millions. Up until now, Ash and Jace have always shared women, seducing them together, sleeping with them together, and leaving them together. But in the second book in the trilogy, Fever, Jace met the love of his life, Bethany, and is now officially off the market. With Gabe in the midst of planning his wedding, and Jace head over heels in love, Ash is at loose ends. He’s always been a free agent, never committing to one woman, but he’s now odd man out from his friends and their women. Ash is also estranged from his family, who are clinging social climbers who expect his total obedience to their wishes. Ash sees them infrequently, but they always manage to get under his skin. Generally, he avoids them and relies on his best friends for support and thinks of them as his family.

One day, while in the park, Ash sees a beautiful woman sketching on a notepad. He sees that she’s wearing a necklace that is far too expensive for the other clothes she has on, and immediately surmises that she’s wearing a collar, but not one that is all that suited to her personality. The woman is Josie, a local artist. Ash’s attraction is immediate, and he’s even more intrigued when he finds that she was sketching him. But no amount of charm will entice Josie to even have a cup of coffee with him. Ash realizes he is going to have to do some quick scrambling to find out more about Josie, who shuts him down completely. He discovers that she is a struggling artist. He knows she’s struggling because he has his man buy some jewelry she’s pawned. Then he discovers that her work is shown at a local gallery and decides to buy all of it. When Josie returns to the pawn shop to buy back her jewelry, she’s heartbroken to know it’s gone. It was all she had left of her mother and grandmother. But when she finds out that Ash has bought it, and he’s willing to return it to her, if she’ll only have dinner with him, she reluctantly agrees. When he sees that Josie is no longer wearing a collar, and discovers that it’s because she realized that the collar didn’t mean the same thing to her and her Dom, he immediately proposes that she become his submissive. He lays out for her exactly what it will entail, and she says she’ll need to think about it, and get back to him.

A week later, Josie still hasn’t gotten back to Ash and he’s going a bit out of his mind. When he discovers that Josie’s former Dom has beaten her for ending their relationship, his protective instincts go into overdrive.  He moves Josie into his home and takes care of her as she heals from the beating. Once she’s recovered, they begin a sexual relationship that involves some light D/s behaviors. And when Ash collars her, Josie is delighted. She has everything that she wants. But then she discovers that Ash has been keeping secrets from her, it makes her question his motive for everything. Will Ash be honest with Josie? And how can she ever forgive him for betraying her trust?

Now look, I know that this book requires a very specific suspension of disbelief, AND it requires the reader to forgive some relatively stalkerish behavior by the hero. And I also get that it’s not going to work for everyone. But man, I’m such a sucker for a hero who is solely focused on taking care of the heroine. I love the Caregiving Alpha trope more than any other. And Ash? Total caregiver. He can also be bossy, dominant and overbearing, which clearly will not work for some readers. But for me, his intent was so clear from the start, and I completely bought his love for Josie, and more, I bought their visceral connection to each other.

I’ve also always admired that your heroines always have girlfriends. In this case, the women who are with his best friends and their friends. There is an extended girls night out that I got a kick out of reading, but more, I liked that the women really supported each other in their own relationships and in the ones that they have with the men.

The story itself is tightly written and features some extremely tender sex scenes that I really enjoyed. While this book is not going to be for everyone, I truly enjoyed every moment and am happy to recommend it to reader who enjoy a dominant yet caregiving alpha hero. Final grade: B+

Kind regards,

Kati

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