***Note: This is not a YA book***
by Laurelin Paige
My feelings on this book are very mixed, but that's my fault. I went into it expecting it to be something other than what it was. Based on the summary, I assumed it was going to be a mystery/suspense novel with a romance plot...and it was, but it was more BDSM erotica than anything else (although the mystery aspect is still very much present throughout).Summary: When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven't spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what's more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.
Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she's drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she's forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?
The BDSM stuff isn't really my kind of thing in general. I mean, I can acknowledge and understand that there are people who are genuinely into that sort of thing, but it can be difficult for someone (or at least, it is for me) who isn't into it to read those kind of scenes and not be really emotionally frustrated by them (e.g. there'll be things said or done in the book where my personal reaction would be rage...but it's something the characters actually enjoy so I'm reading and angry about what is happening but the characters are reacting in a totally different way = frustrating).
But then, in spite of that aspect, I didn't want to put the book down and in the end I did actually enjoy reading it -- it hooked me, it was entertaining, I cared enough to want to know what would happen and to know more about the characters.
Plus, it was well written (definitely more than other books I've read with similar subject matter). Maybe most of all though, the characters were really interesting. I liked that they were screwed up but the book wasn't making excuses for them, they've both made mistakes and did messed up things but it felt like instead of trying to justify those things to the reader, the author was trying to show that the characters were accepting those things in each other -- a distinction I've not seen enough of in my (limited) experience with this genre.
I loved that it wasn't one of those BDSM books that confuses a Dom/sub relationship with an abusive relationship. This book acknowledges that there's a line between abuse and BDSM (and it does it in a really interesting way, by having the main characters trying to figure out that line themselves). It isn't one of those books that tries to give characters some messed up reason for being the way they are, instead it just acknowledges that it's just a part of them -- a tragic past isn't a prerequisite to be into the BDSM lifestyle, I liked that it showed that.
I also really liked that Emily actually genuinely was a submissive -- it was something she wanted and craved to feel happy and complete in a relationship, it wasn't just something she experimented with or compromised on because she wanted to be with Reeve, it was a mutually symbiotic relationship (something the Fifty Shades of Gray's of the genre are severely lacking).
Basically, while I didn't necessarily enjoy the BDSM aspect of the book, I did really appreciate the fact that it was written well and not in the ignorant and harmful ways I've seen it portrayed in books before. Too many books get it so wrong so I like that this one didn't -- it wasn't perfect, but it wasn't badly done either.
Really, the only thing I hated about the book was the fact that it ends on a cliffhanger. Had I known that, I may not have read it -- I went into it thinking it was a standalone but it's the first in a duology. And now I really want the sequel to know what happens next.
I'd rate the book 3.5 stars out of 5, for keeping me thoroughly hooked and entertained -- it probably would've been higher if BDSM books were something I liked in general but for me I tend to like books in spite of that aspect rather than because of it, so that fault isn't with the book itself.