Blurb: Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat-a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her, Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.
Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate-and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.
Review: There were so many things that I considered problems with this book that it forced me to to give this a pretty low rating. The biggest problem I had overall was with the approach to the BDSM lifestyle. Not the subject itself, but how it was presented and handled.
I’ll admit that I’m not in the lifestyle and do not claim that I have any level of accurate or expert knowledge on the subject of BDSM other that what I’ve read here and there. That said, it seems as if there are two types of books that get written in this genre. The ones that are serious about their approach and how they present that lifestyle and that do so in a very clear way or the ones that play at it. I’ve read both kinds and both kinds work if done right. This book wants to be the first kind but comes across as the second. Either be serious about it or do it on the lighter, just for fun side that doesn’t require the rules, but don’t try to straddle that line. It does not work. Don’t just throw it in there to use it strictly as a plot device because those kinds of books seem to be the in thing.
Just because you get off on having the guy be pushy in the bedroom, does not mean you are into BDSM and are serious about the lifestyle. When I say serious about it, I’m talking about what are considered standard rules about being safe and making good decisions because you are in a healthy mindset. The so called club in this book had so many things that struck me as wrong in it, that I had a hard time getting beyond that to pay attention to the rest of the story. The fact that members could touch any other member in any way without permission was just wrong. If a sub is collared, you don’t touch without the dom’s permission even if that dom is not around. That opens the door to a totally unsafe environment, which a BDSM club should never be. The fact that the guy running place finds out that Brynn has some pretty obvious fears because of a past rape, then lets her go to blindly pick out someone to be her dom for 3 days without any kind of protection for her (3 days for someone who is brand new to the club and that they will be with total strangers the entire time) or ensuring that she is with someone who he knows she will be safe with, absolutely blows my mind. With all of that and more, this club seemed like a bunch of spoiled, rich, hedonists that wanted to play at the BDSM lifestyle without really adhering to any of the rules.
The fact that it isn’t taken seriously is proven even more with the characters during the menage’ scene with Reid, Brynn and Jace. Reid, who is supposed to be Brynn’s dom, doesn’t pay attention to her pleasure or the fact that she slips out of that mindset because he is too focused on his own. It took Jace bringing it to his attention to figure it out. That is so not playing it safe when you are talking about being in situations that could become harmful in a second. Again, that is just so wrong as far as I’m concerned.
I also had a huge problem with the whole recreating the rape scene as a way for Brynn to “reclaim” her body and have Reid “own” her, down to him biting her on the bite scar from the rape. I have a problem with how a lot of author’s handle characters dealing with and recovering from rape in the first place, no matter how realistic it is for people to learn to live with the after effects of violence in their own ways. This just made it incredibly hard to believe that Brynn wouldn’t have at least one uncomfortable moment, especially after a freak out earlier in the book. I’m sorry, there just isn’t this single moment or situational change and everything that was an emotional minefield before is suddenly okay and not a trigger. It does not work that way.
Beyond all of that, and those were huge for me, Reid was an awful character. The stereotypical rich kid who doesn’t want to rock the boat for fear he won’t have that privileged life anymore. At the point in the “then” part of the story with Vanessa (the back and forth between the “then” and “now” parts drove me nuts) and the day Brynn got raped, he just proved that beyond all doubt. Sorry Reid, there is this thing called saying “No” and walking away that works wonders. Oh, and the fact that he continually lies and expects Brynn to just accept it later is also utter BS and makes her this spineless door mat and that makes me not like her character either. He proves, yet again, that he is a crap dom when he agrees to go without a condom at the end of the book without at least a discussion about testing. For crying out loud! Protection during sex is NOT just about preventing pregnancy. The pill isn’t going to keep you from getting something nasty so just because someone says their on the pill, it doesn’t make the sex suddenly safe. Your job as a dom is supposed to be taking care of your sub, protecting them from harm and ensuring their pleasure. Reid is only concerned about what gets him off.
Sadly, those are only the big issues I had. There were lots of smaller, less important issues (Scooby Doo reveal) in comparison that just weren’t worth the time to list.