Review published on February 3, 2013.Reviewed by Marleen Kennedy
[product sku=”9780352347299″]Dylan Ivory is an author of erotic romances. In her next book she wants to explore a BDSM relationship but she is well aware that she doesn’t know enough about the subject to write a credible story. In order to do her work justice she sets out to interview people involved in power-exchange relationships and ends up meeting Alec Walker, a very attractive and very dominant man. It isn’t long into their first meeting that Alec issues Dylan with a challenge. Instead of telling her what it is like to be Dominant or what is involved in a BDSM relationship he will show her. Because:
“You cannot begin to describe the dynamics involved without having been there.”
He will take her in hand and train her, as the submissive he’s convinced she is. Dylan however is sure that she doesn’t have a submissive bone in her body. She has had to be in control for most of her life and likes it that way. She does accept the challenge though; on the condition that once it is clear that he has failed at “taming” her she gets the opportunity to top Alex. It soon becomes clear though that this is one power-exchange in which both participants will learn new things about themselves.
I really like this book. I like that there is no overpowering male more or less bullying the innocent young woman into something she knows nothing about. I like that Dylan went into this arrangement with her eyes wide open, willing to try even if she didn’t think being submissive would work for her. And I liked that Alec took the time to explain things to her, was happy to take it slowly even though his own need was enormous.
“It’s hard to let it all go, to hand over your power to another person. Just remember there is power in doing that. In making that choice.”
I also liked that this is a story about equals. Dylan and Alec may be in a power exchange relationship, but we’re not dealing with a strong and a weak character. Both Dylan and Alec are extremely independent, and guard that independence jealously. And that is the one and only issue in their relationship. As the experiment slowly turns into a need to be together, neither are able to deal with it or to recognise their feelings for what they are. They may have their own personal reasons for rejecting commitment and love, but their feelings on this point are equally strong for both of them.
There is real character development in this book. I really enjoyed the process Dylan went through from complete denial of certain feelings through fighting them to accepting them for what they were. And the same is true for Alex; he too has to open himself up to emotions he has denied for as long as he can remember. And I liked that the BDSM experience the two characters shared works both as a mechanism for them to get to that acceptance and a sort of metaphor for the process.
On the back cover it says that this book is “perfect for fans for E.L. James and Sylvia Day” and I completely understand why. Having said that, I would rate this book higher than the works of either of those authors. First and foremost because the characters in this book are easier to relate to than those in the “Fifty Shades” and “Crossfire” trilogies. Dylan and Alec are less extreme (in wealth, in innocence, in damage from the past and in their reactions) than the characters in those other books. I also like that in this book we got the thoughts of both main characters rather than only one of them.
A quick word of warning; as the story-line in this book suggests, this story contains a lot of sex. And while the author never sets out to shock, there may well be scenes in this book that fall outside some peoples’ comfort zones.
This book is very well written, very sensual – not to say sexy – and totally engrossing. I am already looking forward to reading the second book, “Desire’s Edge”, in the not too distant future.