I know you guys are probably tired of reading my reviews of BDSM books, but as you know, I’ve been on this strange BDSM kick and can’t seem to stop reading them. After reading the last one, I was tempted to stop reading this stuff, but fortunately, I enjoyed this one so much that I went to Ellora’s Cave and bought everything this author has written. Yes, yes, I’m a freak. Anyway, a friend suggested that I liked this book a lot more than the previous one I reviewed because it is the woman who is the top and the man who is the bottom, and maybe I have a latent hatred for men and desire to see them all punished. This is completely untrue. I love men. Me loves the cock. However, maybe there’s a grain of truth to what my friend had said. After all, I’ve been reading romance novels for close to twenty years now and over the years, I have encountered countless of extremely domineering, very alpha, very bossy male protagonists, so maybe I am enjoying this change of pace where it is the woman who calls all the shots. I also like the image of a very strong alpha male bound and gagged, kneeling before a woman, while she stands over him with a cat o’nine tails. That shit is hot, man.
Note: If you are disturbed by a man giving oral sex to another man, forced anal sex (it’s not quite rape, but it almost is, depending on how you look at it), and all the rest of that kinky stuff, you might want to pass on this book.
The hero of this book is your run-of-the-mill seasoned cop who is rough around the edges and carries tons of emotional baggage, someone we’ve all encountered in countless Harlequin romance novels… with one exception. He is a submissive. His name is Mackenzie Nighthorse, a hero cop, who recently took down a psycho serial killer and almost lost his life, and he’s got the scars to prove it. Mac is the kind of guy who likes pushing himself to the edge; he skydives, rides a motorcycle, does weird military survival type retreats, and totally gets a kick out of a woman being in charge of him in the bedroom (he can and will take anything they dish out and doesn’t have a safe word). He indulges this kink by attending local, but exclusive S&M bars where he finds women who will be his Mistress for the night. No one in his police department knows about this and he would prefer to keep it that way. Unfortunately, someone in the local S&M scene starts humiliating and murdering young men in the area, and Mac seriously suspects that it is a Mistress who is the culprit. Because he’s already got an in with the scene, Mac tells his sergeant that he will go undercover and try to ferret out the killer.
Our heroine, Violet, is a new Domme. When I first encountered Violet, I thought she was just one of those fake-slut type of females who has turned to the S&M scene for some weird girl-power kick and once she encountered Mac (he’s a cop, dude, come on!), would devolve into one of those wussy ass heroines who just really wants to be “conquered” by a “real man”, but this is not the case at all. Sure, Violet is nice and sweet, but she really is much tougher than Mac. She is not squeamish, does not hesitate to punish him when he’s being a chauvinistic, macho dude, nor does she second-guess herself about her feelings for Mac. There is no “I love him, but does he love me? Do I really love him?” kind of crap with Violet. The second she meets Mac, she knows that there is something special about him, and that she is the woman who can bring it to the surface. She also knows that the only way she can do that is to break him down physically and emotionally and is not wishy-washy about the methods to do it. She really, really gives it to him. I mean, REALLY. No, I mean, REALLY, REALLY. Dude, Violet is my idol. She’s smart, tough, can manipulate the hero to suit her purposes when she needs to, and is the kind of woman who will go after what she wants when she really wants it.
Speaking of really giving it to someone, the sex in this book is not for the squeamish. The thin line between pleasure and pain gets really blurry in some scenes and there are plenty of these scenes. What’s cool, though, is that there isn’t a sex scene in this book that doesn’t have a purpose. It’s not just sex scene after sex scene with some thin ass “story” to bridge them. This book really is about breaking down a person’s personal and emotional defenses in order to bare that person’s soul. The portrayal of “pain for pleasure” in this book is portrayed in a beautiful, almost poetic way. It’s almost a delicious kind of pain. It’s kind of like when you go get a tattoo for the first time and the first fifty pokes of the needle hurts like a bitch, but after a while, the pain becomes almost… pleasurable. Don’t look at me like I’m a freak, it’s true. Ask anyone who has a tattoo. Anyway, Violet’s physical punishments of Mac is not like a sicko inflicting pain for kicks. Every scratch, every bite, every slap she gives him is an expression of love. She knows that he buries his true self under his tough cop persona and all she wants to do is to expose the REAL Mac.
Mac, on the other hand, is annoyingly stubborn at first, but he really grows on you, after a while. You veteran romance readers out there know what I’m talking about when I say “tough cop” and at the beginning of the story, Mac is this stereotype. In fact, he is so very much a “tough cop” that he was almost in danger of becoming a caricature. I mean, he’s like this tortured cop type that we’ve read about a hundred times before; he even thinks he deserves the physical punishment that his Mistress metes out to him. What separates Mac from the “I deserve the pain” tortured types is that he accepts that he is a submissive. He knows that it doesn’t make him weak or less of a man; for him, it’s just something he enjoys, like reading or hiking. At first, he doesn’t think Violet is a true Mistress and that she can’t be the one to succeed where countless others have failed before (no Mistress has ever broken him), but the more he spends time with her, the more he respects and trusts her. He understands that Violet won’t really hurt him. Even when he finds out her “deep, dark secret” (yes, there’s one of those), he doesn’t overreact. Mac and Violet eventually become true halves of each other; even though Mac is submissive to Violet, it is clear that they are equals and Mac acknowledges Violet as such. He is still a stereotypically pig-headed male, but when he knows Violet is right, he will concede to her better judgment and won’t argue.
Oh, and remember how I said that Mac doesn’t have a safe word? When Violet finally gets him to say it, I got teary, dude. It was an awesomely tender moment. Also, when Violet gets injured and Mac rushes to her side and takes care of her? Oh, man, it killed me.
And they talk. A lot. And that’s really, really good.
I also forgot about the “romantic suspense” angle of this book. There is a murderer on the loose, after all. I don’t really want to ruin any part of this book for you, but when I started reading this book, I guessed who the villain was right away. That’s alright, though, because it’s not important. It’s not what this book is about. 85% of the story is really just about Violet and Mac testing each other’s boundaries and getting to know each other. There are a few quiet moments in this book with Violet and Mac just hanging out and each scene is really precious. The only quibble I have with this book is this TSTL moment that Mac does near the end that almost gets his ass and Violet killed. Don’t worry, I haven’t ruined anything. Once you come across that part, you’ll say to yourself, “Oh, yeah, that old plot twist”. Other than that, this book slayed me… but in a good way. I have a couple more Joey W. Hill books to read, but I think I’m gonna step back from S&M e-books for a while. Whenever Tim sees me reading them, he just kinds of shakes his head. I think he’s starting to get worried.