This book is more of a 4.5 than just a 4, but since Good Reads doesn't give us the option, I went closer to a four than a five. I firmly believe that...moreThis book is more of a 4.5 than just a 4, but since Good Reads doesn't give us the option, I went closer to a four than a five. I firmly believe that Marc and Angelina are my favorite couple in this series. I really have loved their dynamic in the series, starting with their book to this one. In this book, we revisit them, and we see that not all is fine in Paradise. Marc is extremely closed off emotionally, to the point that it starts affecting his relationships with Angelina. I loved that Angelina wasn't going to keep dealing with his crap any longer and left. I love that despite being a sub, she is rather a dominating woman outside of the bedroom, knows what she wants, and isn't going to tolerate any man's crap. Even when they tried again, and Marc was consistently trying to distract her with sex, and she told him no dice. There were plenty of times, though, that I wanted her to actually scream at him, but I guess that isn't who she is.
That RACK scene between Marc and the gang was really, really hard to read. There were times, especially when he started hallucinating and imagining his brother, that I kind of got sniffly. It was so freaking tragic, because there was a lot of pain there. The torture and borderline abuse was rough, but as a grown man he made the decision to do all that was necessary to work out his issues.
The ending on the plane was really sweet, and part of me really connected with Marc on not feeling like he belonged anywhere. As half Italy, having half of my family in Italy and the other half here in America, I always felt like I was torn in half. Perhaps that's why I love Marc so much.
Not going to lie, all the talk of the food and the scenery makes me want to go back to Italy so bad. I'm very much like Angelina in that food is love, and I want to have all the love in the world.
We did revisit Damian and Savannah at their wedding (now that's a wedding scene, Masters), and then Karla and Adam being stupid and annoying with this goddamn pregnancy. As a reader, I'm ready for this pregnancy to be over with so I can stop reading Karla bitching, and how Adam is seriously the most clueless man on the freaking planet. When a doctor, who knows more about pregnancy and birth and obstetrics, tells you that it was a fluke, it's probably the best thing to listen to her. That whole subplot is so freaking convoluted and stupid, and ugh, I'm over it. I just don't like Karla and Adam together. I like Adam on his own, and Karla on her own (when she's not pregnant, pining for Adam, and bitching about no sex), but together, those two just don't do it for me AT all. Which is funny because when they were just two strangers at a bus stop, I really adored their interaction. I still think Karla is horribly written, and the writer has her stuck mentally at 18 instead of 25. UGH. WHY?
All in all, I think this was one of the better books in the series. I'm sad that there isn't more, and now I have to wait like everyone else for the next installment. I really don't know how she's going to handle this rape backstory of Cassie's and how she's going to miraculously cure her of it, but we shall see. I kind of wish Masters would stop with the whole TORTURED SOUL angle, and just give one of these men/women, a person who just wants to have kinky fun sex. (less)
Here we have Damian's and Savannah's story, and we find out more about the horrors that Savi had to face as a child/teenager. Truly, the monstrosities...moreHere we have Damian's and Savannah's story, and we find out more about the horrors that Savi had to face as a child/teenager. Truly, the monstrosities this woman faced almost gave Sherrilyn Kenyon a run for her money in the tortured soul department. I read Styxx by Kenyon, and I thought his abuse/rape/incessant degradation was bad, but dang, didn't Masters almost top that.
In this book, Damian and Savi meet up again after Lyle, her father's henchman slash business partner finds her and Mari. She runs to Denver with really no other thought than that Damian could help her. She's been hurt by Lyle, needing medical attention that she doesn't want because she doesn't trust a single male soul, except the priest of the church she ran to when she was 19, and surprise surprise, Damian.
We find out that Mari is Damian's daughter, which wasn't a surprise at all because if you've read the prequel, we knew Savi was pregnant anyway. Here comes Unbelievable Moment #1: Mari calls Damian 'Daddy' after only meeting him twice. She didn't know he was her dad, but apparently, she's so starved for a father figure that she latched onto the first male outside of Father Martine and slaps the "Daddy" tag on him. She's so trusting, this little seven year old ball of rainbows and adorableness.
The three of them start this weird family dynamic, with both Savi and Damian feeling that they aren't good enough for each other. Savi's inner demons are starting to come back front and center, and of course, after having a heart to heart talk with Papa Dom aka Adam that her subconscious wouldn't be bringing up these issues again if she didn't feel she was in an environment that she could finally handle them. Damian finally shows her his war wound, but she's still closed off to him. Obvious reasons are obvious.
She finds out that Damian is a sensual sadist at the club. She doesn't understand this culture, given that the only type of experience she's ever had with chains/whips/toys and such were in the form of abuse. Years of therapy hasn't erased the thoughts of her being a filthy dirty whore and a pain slut, because apparently, (enter Unbelievable Moment #2) even being a therapist herself, she didn't really discuss these inner demons with her therapist. If she did, and actually got the help to battle them and find ways to cope, then there would be no story, right?
She witnesses Damian having a session with a client, and all of a sudden, she wants to experience this. She is so numb, and cut off from feeling anything, that she wants to try this form of therapy. She starts working with Damian to find out what her triggers are (which are a LOT of them), what her pain threshold is, her hard limits, and how to start breaking down the steel walls she built around her for the last 8 years.
We also find out what her father had branded on her, I'm going to assume labia, and that miraculously through one session, Damian has claimed it as his. That is his brand. She is his "good girl", despite that this is a huge, huge, HUGE trigger for her. Unbelievable moment #3: In literally a matter of what appears to be 4 sessions, Damian has manager to get Savi to a place emotionally that YEARS of therapy haven't been able to do. I understand that this is a novel, and the author can't really drag this out, but Jesus Christ, by this time, I was just like, whatever.
Cue lots of drama, more play scenes, more drama, asshole Father appears, she's rescued, everyone lives happily ever after. In the epilogue of the book, Savi even has sex again, in a position that won't trigger her. (I'm gonna admit, that scene was beautiful and hot, and bravo Masters on that.)
In the foreword of this book, Masters acknowledges that some people use that lifestyle as a way to deal with their own previous abuse, and she does do a really good job explaining that through Victor and Patti. Like, I understood exactly what Maters was trying convey in the scene with Patti and Damian. She does a decent job doing that with Damian and Savannah as well, but it felt rushed in some aspects. Maybe we'll see their further growth later in the books.
I will admit that the slut/princess scene really bothered me. It probably is my own issues with that word. I also felt that it was a little too soon to be bringing this into Savi's life when it was CLEAR that it was a huge trigger for her. He didn't slowly work on desensitizing her from it. He basically threw her into a room, blind folded, and wrote "Damo's slut" across her forehead and was all, "THIS WORD ISN'T BAD, TRUST ME." Yeah, okay. Unbelievable Moment #4 for me.
All in all, I liked this book far better than Adam's and Karla's book. I really do like Savi. I thought she was very well fleshed out, and she wasn't a simpering little snothead like Karla. I want a second book on them, not Luke and Karla's friend whom I can't remember (who will probably be miraculously cured of her fear of men through BDSM...yawn). These books aren't the greatest things ever, but I appreciate them for what they are, and I really do have to credit Masters for doing her homework on the subject matter.(less)
I didn't review the first two books of this series, mainly because I didn't really have much to say. I enjoyed the prologue book, getting to know the...moreI didn't review the first two books of this series, mainly because I didn't really have much to say. I enjoyed the prologue book, getting to know the men and their backgrounds. It's a little different doing it that way, but hey, at least this prevents of having to use exposition in the novel to give background history on the characters. We already know Adam and Karla and the gang. If you decided that you could read these books out of order, you are dead wrong. Masters tells you in the beginning of each book that these are not stand alone novels. You have to read them in order, so people who complain about that are clearly unable to properly read, or chose to ignore the Author's Notes in the beginning.
That being said, many of the reviews I've read about this book, I have to agree with, except the ones that are all, "OMG THIS BOOK IS TOTES AWESOMESAUCE."
No, it really isn't.
I knew going into this series that it was going to be heavily based in the BDSM scene. I didn't have any fantasy about these novels having some deep meaningful plots. Hell, I don't require my books to have deep meaningful plots a lot of the time. I'm not saying that there aren't authors out there who write BDSM and have deep plot lines, but I can't really credit Masters for doing such. These books are basically BDSM smut with plot sprinkled in to actually give it a story.
I had some trouble with the timeline of this book. Once Karla and Adam agree to their Master/slave agreement, it was basically kind of a blur. I was mostly confused after a certain conversation they had where the end of the chapter made it seem like Karla wasn't going to back down to the next chapter with her having cried for hours because her and Adam were not seeing eye to eye on the relationship front for the fifteenth time. I had to back up a few pages and reread them, because I thought there was a publishing error. Nope, she is sobbing her eyes out for some silly reason. We come to find out that this known as a subdrop, where the sub has feelings of worthlessness, depression, and other things. I also chalked it up to her being pregnant (totally called that shit when her nipples became super sensitive after a week), because miraculously, she got pregnant pretty much after they had sex for the first time. She lost her V card and then becomes pregnant. Okay, Masters. That does happen, so I'm willing to ignore this cheap romance trope.
The timeline, the constant use of the word pussy, the euphemisms such as "Venus mound", the over use of the words mons, and the CONSTANT.FUCKING.CRYING. really took this book down for me. I could have given it 4 stars for what it was, but these things just ruined the book for me.
Dear Authors: why do you feel it is necessary to have the female main character always fucking crying? Karla was crying literally half of the book. Every other page was her starting to cry, sobbing, fighting not to cry, or some bullshit like that. She wasn't 25 to me. She was a teenager who was supposed to be 25 so the writer could play out this older man fantasy, and it be okay. This woman has graduated college, had a career of her own, even had a record company interested in her at one point, but she acts like she barely graduated high school. I'm not talking about her need to be what Adam wants (a lot of women do that even if they're highly educated), but just her overall personality was very stunted. If Masters didn't bring up the age difference every chance she could, I would have probably been forgotten that Karla was TWENTY-FIVE years old.
I was also not believing that her first BDSM scene with Adam and the ropes, she managed to get into the subspace twice. Majority of new subs don't reach this, but I'm to believe she's this special woman who clearly takes to the sub life style right away. Maybe it's like that for some people. I don't know, I don't follow that scene.
This is a spoiler so if you haven't read the book, skip it: The whole wedding scene was so over the top and eye roll worthy, I wanted to scream. There is no fucking way that her mother and father would have been okay with her wedding attire. That whole scene just blew the story for me, because I didn't feel like it was Adam and Karla getting married. It was slave girl Karla being given to her Master Adam. Fantasy or no, that wasn't appropriate or remotely romantic.
I also wasn't aware about the whole collar thing either, and eh. Again, not my cup of tea, but hey, to each their own. If it is part of that lifestyle, then at least it was done in a realistic manner. Too bad that wedding and the pregnancy and Adam's "I REFUSE TO HURT THE BABY" wasn't all that realistic.
One last negative thing. Why the fuck did she ever say "like a cat in heat"? I laughed so hard at that, that I had to stop reading. Not only did she put that, but she referenced it twice. No. NO NO NO NO NO NO. Romance novelists. As a reader, this isn't sexy or funny. It's just dumb, and don't ever do it.
With all that being said, I really do have to say that Masters has done her home work regarding that whole lifestyle. Unlike some authors who use it as an excuse to mask an abusive relationship (I'm looking at you, E.L. James and your 50 Shades of Abuse).
I'm interested to see what she does with Damian's and Savannah's story. I have a feeling that she's either going to do a good job working through the abuse, or just piss me off. We shall see. (less)
I've had this book for over 10 years. I read it once a year. I love it for the nostalgia of it, but it does have some troublesome topics and the verna...moreI've had this book for over 10 years. I read it once a year. I love it for the nostalgia of it, but it does have some troublesome topics and the vernacular used makes it a little creepy. This book speaks to a very dark deep part of me that revels in taboo topics. It's not the best, and it doesn't age well because of the topics at hand, but it's a book I read because I love the characters and the overall story. (less)
I'm not one for coming of age stories, if you really want to consider this a coming of age story. Yes, there is development and growing up done by the...moreI'm not one for coming of age stories, if you really want to consider this a coming of age story. Yes, there is development and growing up done by the narrator of the book, 14 year old June Elbus, but I didn't consider it a coming of age. I consider this book more on coming to one's terms on loss and grief of someone who meant the world to someone. That's what this story is about, a teenage girl who had an almost unhealthy attachment to her late uncle, and how she dealt with his death and the poor decisions she made along the way.
The book is in first person perspective, told by June Elbus, the youngest of two siblings, and all around self-proclaimed strange teen. She'd rather get lost in her own little world than pay attention to the world that is around her. She is a romantic, quirky, insecure, jealous, petty, and everything else you could think of when you think of a 14 year old girl. It's set in the late 1980's during the rise of the AIDS epidemic, and how that personally affected her and her family, however, we see more of it affects her mother and her sister through her eyes. We never really get to witness their grief, just how June perceives it. I wish we had gotten more of her mother's story, but this story wasn't about her mother, but June.
Overall, it's a really good book and I enjoyed it. It struck a deep chord with me, so perhaps that's why I enjoyed it so much. (less)