BDSM just doesn't do it for me. However, my beloved sister's Connagher books most certainly do. (Warning: might be a wee bit biased, as the author is, indeed, my beloved sister.)
This latest one is no exception. Victor is both a Master (a term that would make me snort if it didn't fit him from toes to ponytail) and a true sadist, someone who not only enjoys causing pain but actively needs to do so. To deny that urge is to deny a part of himself, like an arm or his heart.
In fact, it's exactly like denying him his heart. Which is why he's done both for so many years when we first meet him at his... ahem... interesting cable station. He let a little of that monster out the last time he let his heart run around a bit, and he's never been quite the same.
Enter Shiloh, a sassy submissive who is one of the few people I'll believe has the true power in such a lop-sided relationship. She revels in pain, revels in doing any little (or big) thing her Master wants. The problem is... said Master doesn't know he wants her yet, and she's having a spot of bother getting him to let down his guards.
See, even for Shiloh (perhaps especially for her), Victor is an intimidating man. Though he ruthlessly suppresses his sadistic side, he can't completely hide who he is, and that confidence, that charisma, that _need to dominate_ just oozes from him. Anyone with the right set of sensory equipment can feel it, and oh, does Shiloh have the right equipment.
Of course, Joely would never make it so simple. If Shiloh could just offer her pert little butt for a whipping with Victor's favored riding crop, it wouldn't be any fun. Or any emotional torment for the reader.
It just so happens that Shiloh is Victor's employee. Yeah. As if they weren't already un-PC enough, right?
But this is a review, not a plot synopsis, so I'll move on. I don't want to tell you everything, because, seriously, the ride is all the fun. Not half, not three-quarters. All of it. You have to read this book to understand how someone who wants to be hurt and someone who lives to inflict pain can truly work out a solution without someone ending up dead.
No, scratch that. You just have to read this book.
See, it's not just about the "kink". It's not even about the sex. It's about what two people need. It's about trusting their partner to provide that need. It's about two people finding their perfect match and then fighting for that perfection.
It isn't easy. And some scenes ain't even pretty. This is a raw, pain-driven world, and people who just want a little spanking are in for a rocky, even bloody surprise. These people aren't in it for the show, and if you forget that, you'll probably wince away from what you're reading.
But if you're game to open yourself up to just a little of the intensity of a man who'd rather hurt himself than the woman he loves enough to want to damage (read that a couple of times to get the irony behind it), then this is absolutely the book you want. I've read it three times myself (not counting early drafts), and I hate hate HATE the idea of Dominance/submission in my own sex life, but... oh... when he really goes to work with that riding crop....
If I had a rating system on my blog, this one would be off the charts. Not just because it's excellent reading with snappy (occasionally blush-worthy) dialogue, killer setting, and smokin-hot romance, but because it... I dunno... shows that you don't have to be damaged in some way to want this lifestyle.
I can't tell you how many times I've seen or read how studies show that people who lead such alternative sexual lifestyles were abused as children or molested as teens or, hell, even just walked in on their parents having sex and were scarred by it. That's the wrong kind of press. Not everyone in the kink set is damaged.
That's not to say that everyone doesn't have scars, but not the kind that "cause" a "deviant" lifestyle. Not sure I'm plainly stating what I mean, but I think you'll understand when you read.
Victor and Shiloh aren't "damaged". They're wounded from past relationships, but in the same way the stiffest, most proper Regency romance hero and heroine might be "damaged" because of ill-advised affairs or match-making mamas. They fell for the wrong people and lived through it.
And now, oh now, they have each other.
What's more happily-ever-after than that?