This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by garlicknitter. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Erotic Romance category.
Tara Sue Me’s New York Times bestselling Submissive series continues with a delicious new story that explores the thin line between pleasure and pain. . . .
She’s ready to try again. . . .
Sasha Blake is scarred from a BDSM session gone wrong, but she can’t deny how much a strong Master turns her on. Determined to overcome her fears and rejoin the Partners in Play community, she asks Abby and Nathaniel West to set her up with a Dom who can help her feel safe again as a sub. They know the very experienced Cole is exactly the kind of man who can push all of Sasha’s buttons—and she soon wants to go much faster than she had planned. . . .
Cole knows that Sasha is not the kind of submissive he needs. He wants someone who will serve him 24-7, not a part-time partner. Still, the further they go into their play, the more Cole begins to wish he could make Sasha his all the time. . . .
When forbidden desires turn into scorching action, Sasha and Cole come face-to-face with their demons—and realize their scorching relationship might be too dangerous to last. . . .
Here is garlicknitter's review:
I initially had a hard time getting into this story, but once I did, I enjoyed it very much. I think the initial problem was because this is book eight in a series, none of which I have previously read. The story started off with a meeting of a lot of characters who would be well known to fans of the series, but of course for me it was like being dumped into a group of strangers. I had trouble remembering names and kept mixing people up until I had hung out with them long enough to have some idea of their individual personalities.
So, basic story: Pretty much everyone in this book is into BDSM to various degrees. All the named characters are or have been members of the same play group. Some of them have already formed long-term relationships (presumably in earlier books). Sasha, the heroine, is a submissive, but (TRIGGER WARNING for abuse) she was hurt badly by her previous Dom in a scene where he had her bound and gagged and they had not set up a safe signal. (He ends up being permanently kicked out of the group because of this incident and his behavior afterward.) Sasha still wants to be a sub because that’s what turns her on, but now she’s prone to panic attacks when asked to do some things. She asks for help from the play group, and they pick out a Dom to retrain her, someone they know has the experience to really help her reestablish trust. (At first I was like, uh, does she get any say in who retrains her? But within the first few chapters it is clearly stated that if she doesn’t want to work with their choice she can ask for someone else.)
The Dom the group chooses is Cole. Not everyone thinks he’s a good choice, because he’s apparently really intense when he plays. (I don’t feel like this really came out in the book – it’s stated repeatedly that he’s so intense, but the described scenes didn’t seem especially intense to me – I kind of assume any kind of BDSM play would be intense to the participants, and the scenes read about like I would expect, given that.) However, intense or not, Cole is really good at taking care of subs and keeping them safe, which is exactly what Sasha needs. He starts off carefully with her – one of the first things he tells her is he won’t be having sex with her. He’s just going to retrain her in being a submissive. I wasn’t initially sure what he meant by that, since (like most non-participants, I imagine) I tend to think of BDSM relationships as being about kinky sex, so taking the sex out doesn’t seem to leave much to do.
Of course that’s an oversimplification. Sasha needs to get past her trust issues, and for that she needs someone utterly trustworthy – Cole can be that guy for her. He’s very clear what behavior he expects from her and very strict about enforcing his rules, but he makes it clear that even when he punishes her for breaking his rules, he will always make her as safe as he can. For one thing, every time she uses a safe word, he praises her lavishly. Also, when he tells her what he expects from her before they play, he always asks her if she has any questions. He doesn’t assume he always knows what’s best for her, he checks with her, and when he thinks she has concerns she’s not being open about he uses his Dom powers to push her to be more candid.
Of course the no-sex thing doesn’t last. As Sasha progresses in her retraining, as she becomes stronger, she wants more domination. She genuinely enjoys submission. Serving a Dom turns her on, being bound turns her on, being flogged turns her on, etc. She knows Cole is good at all those things, and she also finds him incredibly hot, so naturally she comes to want more from him. She knows he was previously in a 24/7 Master/slave relationship, and she’s intrigued and wants to try a taste of that, but he spends the first half of the book explaining why she’s not ready. He’s explaining to himself as much as her; he also finds her incredibly hot and likes her submissive style. Eventually, at the end of her initial retraining, they do have sex, and once that happens he gives in to what they both want and agrees to a temporary Master/slave relationship, which is a resounding success. The rest of the conflict is a typical “I love him/her, but he/she deserves better/isn’t ready/wants something other than what I have to offer,” which is neatly resolved with friends of each pointing out that they seem to be stupid in love with the other and maybe they should follow up on that.
Without being a BDSM aficionado, I’d say this book does a good job demonstrating the principle that being a Dom is not just about ordering subs around and using them to get off – job number one is taking care of the sub, keeping them safe, giving pleasure as well as taking it, and making sure that even if some of the play hurts, it doesn’t actually harm.
Grade? I’m going with a B+. The writing was clear and didn’t get in the way of the story. This is a big deal for me – clunky writing can make it impossible for me to engage with a story. The characterizations were reasonably believable – or at least I was able to ignore potential issues like how does a journalist (Cole) have this much money? As stated above, I found the final emotional conflict pretty typical, but it was handled nicely and I was happy for everyone at the end.
The Master by Tara Sue Me received an A in a previous RITA Reader Challenge Review.
Michael Phelps has raced against the world's fastest swimmers and come out on top – but how would he fare against the ocean's greatest predator?
The Olympic swimming legend ticked off his "bucket list" moment by going head to head with a great white shark in a long-hyped event to kick off the Discovery Channel's Shark Week. Dubbed the 'Great Gold vs Great White', the 100m race took place in shark-infested open water off the coast of South Africa. But while fans may have been hoping to witness the pair actually race head to head, the TV producers instead took the safe option and digitally superimposed a shark to race alongside him. Despite adapting his swim to that of his competitor, it wasn't quite enough to score a victory. Watch!
Submitted by: (via Dicovery Channel)
Attention all magazine readers! The Texture Premium app is on sale for Amazon Prime members.
Prime exclusive deal for 1 year: $4.99 per month for the first year of Texture, which means you get unlimited access to 200+ magazines in one app. It automatically renews at $9.99/month after the first 12 months. Cancel anytime.
Truth or Beard
Truth or Beard by Penny Reid is $2.99 at Amazon! This is part of today’s Kindle Daily Deals. I know Reid is an auto-buy author for many of you and this one has an enemies to lovers feel to it, judging by the description. Readers say it has Reid’s trademark humor and quirkiness, but warn there’s a scene where the hero is with another woman. I know that’s an off button for some.
Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.
His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?
This book is on sale at:
A Desperate Fortune
A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley is $1.99 for TODAY ONLY as a Kindle Daily Deal! It’s also being price-matched. Like Kearsley’s other books, which are very popular and rarely discounted, it has strong romantic elements and dual timelines. Many readers loved Sara, a woman who’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s and takes a job as a codebreaker, but other readers found the book took a while to get going. And, in case you missed it, check out Susanna Kearsley on our podcast!
The highly anticipated, brand-new timeslip romance from New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley
For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread-its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher.
But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects. As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take… to find the road that will lead her safely home.
Crash Into You
Crash Into You by Roni Loren is $2.99! This is an erotic romance with BDSM and suspense elements. Oh, and a second chance romance! There is a menage scene which some readers wished there was a warning about. So…menage warning, ahoy! It’s the first book in the Loving on the Edge series, doesn’t have a cliffhanger, and has a 3.9-star rating on Goodreads.
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.
Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin is $2.99! This is a fantasy romance and the first in a series. Readers commended Griffin’s original world-building. However, others found that the pace of the book dragged in certain spots because of said world-building. Ah, such is often the crux of fantasy romances.
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…
Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy…
With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons-and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.
When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council-and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…
Wonder Woman has been my favorite film so far this year, and it’s clearly resonated with a lot of romance readers (and women in general). For this edition of Stuff You Should Be Stitching, I’m focusing on Wonder Woman-themed awesomeness.
Now, you might have noticed that this column title changed from Stuff You Should Be Knitting. That’s because I’m going to try and focus more on cross stitch, needlepoint, sewing, and crochet as well. I’ll try to feature as many free patterns as possible too.
Stitchy Bitches unite!
First up, look at this beauty:
I literally gasped when I saw this. I have a lot of knitting planned–like 6 shawls by Christmas. I just bought yarn for a Find Your Fade. I still really, really need to make this for me.
Can you imagine wrapping up in this in the office, fighting professional injustice?
Also free is the Wonder Woman sweater by Natalie Bursztyn.
This is a seamed sweater, with a raglan sleeve and requires knowledge of colorwork.
If these projects are too large, there are smaller ones available too!
Lastly for knitters, we have Wonder Woman Fingerless Gloves by Ducky Dame. This pattern is available for $4 on Etsy and could be a great stash-buster.
There are a TON of awesome Wonder Woman cross stitch patterns out there–don’t believe me? Just Google. Here are a few of my favorites.
This pattern by Hall Stitch is available on Esty for $3.75 and I love how it features just the shadow of Wonder Woman, her logo blazing through in white. It requires five floss colors and is available as a PDF download.
If you’re looking for a smaller project, there’s always this Wonder Woman logo available on Etsy for $2.75. It’s a digital file and requires five colors of floss.
If you are happiest hooking, then you’ll be delighted by some of these awesome Wonder Woman crochet patterns.
My personal favorite is this gorgeous throw. I love how bold the colors are, and the black outline really makes the image pop. It’s designed by Nicole Pellegrino and is available for $8. The difficulty level is listed as easy, so it could be a fun project for beginners.
Fans of arugami (crocheting small stuffed dolls or animals) should check out this free pattern. This adorable Wonder Woman doll would be great to give as a gift to an adult or child, or just to keep on your desk.
Another amazing free pattern is this Wonder Woman headband with Diana’s long raven locks. Look at how adorable it is! The designer lists it as a beginner pattern too! I may have just died from the cute!
Last but not least is a sewing pattern for this Wonder Woman inspired apron. It’s available for $8 on Etsy and comes as a PDF download. I can’t sew or cook, but I have serious apron envy.
I’m going to a new Little Yarn Store this week and I may just have to get some yarn for that first shawl pattern.
I know so many of you are knitters, stitchers, hookers, and crafty crafters, so I want to make sure you know about the SBTB Ravelry Group! Come join us!
Did Wonder Woman inspire your crafting? What are you stitching?