Rated 4.5/5 on the blog.
Christina Crooks delivers a story packed with intense and steamy sexiness, uniqueness in both the heroine and plot, and a captivating mystery in her newest release, Rough Play. Rough Play satiates erotic/BDSM literary fans who enjoy a story with a little suspense, a whole lot of D/s and S&M, and an HEA.
Interweaving the idea of a group of sadist men who believe in, and occultly follow, the views of a Gorian society (series written by John Norman) where men are the ultimate masters and women are the ultimate slaves, Rough Play is uniquely created and uniquely executed.
"I'm not a submissive."
"There's no shame in being a submissive." [Master Martin]
"There is. Shame and danger. I don't have a slave's heart."
Meet Master Martin:
"Your fear and lust radiate on a certain, special wavelength. People like me pick up on it."
"It's easier to simply do as I ask. But I'm glad you don't. You know why I'm glad, don't you? Because I'm a sadist." He paused considering. "A fairer kind of sadist than you've known, I suspect."
Heroine Charlotte has escaped her marriage that nearly destroyed her ability to act her true sexual self: being a submissive. Her overly sexually dominant husband abused her trust and pushed her to a point she felt "wrong". Instead, she's resolved to sticking to her job as match-maker, finding her clients a perfect happy-ever-after, since apparently she has horrible luck creating one for herself. Her unique gift (you'll have to read the book to find out how she's unique) brings her clients love and passion, something Charlotte never thinks she'll be able to find, until unfortunate events lead her to one man that has the power (literally) to change that.
Master Martin is jaded by the submissives he's worked with. Plus, he's got his own personal problems, all of which drill home the fact that all he wants is out from his ownership of Subspace, a popular BDSM club, and a chance to find the right person/submissive to settle down with. Just when he thinks his dreams will never be attainable, in walks Charlotte, on a mission to find her 'missing' friend, and the biggest enigma he's ever met. The challenge has been set -- find out who Charlotte is and why she's in complete denial of her submissive qualities. The only problem is the more he learns of Charlotte's painful past and why she steps foot into Subspace, Martin starts to realize that Charlotte's past echos some of Martin's current problems.
Readers who enjoy a BDSM romantic suspense are sure to enjoy Rough Play. Master Martin is delicious, and the chemistry and sex between Charlotte and him is great -- albeit moves very quickly in the trust aspect. But, they have an immediate connection, one of which that is aided by the something the heroine "sees". One of my favorite aspects of this book was the fact that Christina Crooks did not shy away from role playing. There's a doctor/patient scene that was very hot! And, my favorite was the rape fantasy. Christina doesn't overplay the scene, nor underplay it, but rather runs right down the middle with her approach.
The unique inclusion of the Gorean Saga (series written by John Norman) philosophy was fabulous and unique! It allowed for the foundation of both the heroines internal and external conflicts, as well as drove the plot. Charlotte has a lot of mix messages about herself when it comes to her submissive qualities -- all steaming from her marriage and her husbands Gorean philosophy. Martin is the one that shows her the difference and helps her to realize her true nature and the shamelessness of being a submissive.
And, all the while Master Martin and Charlotte are finding one another, Charlotte is also trying to find her missing friend, in addition to keeping herself out of harms way. Something that is easier said then done.
The bottom line is that this was a fantastic read that kept me highly captivated and always more than a little warm! I applaud Christina Crooks for her unique creation of the captivating, unique, kinky, and oh-so-delicious Rough Play. I can't wait to see what she has in store next for readers!