I don't know if there are any differences story-wise yet. We'll s...moreI reviewed this story previously on the initial release version. (My original review)
I don't know if there are any differences story-wise yet. We'll see. But I LOVED this story the first time around, so if anything changed, I know Riptide editing will only have made it even better.(less)
Still impressed with the story, mostly. Less impressed with the editing and proofing (again), hence only 4 stars this time.
You need to read the rest o...moreStill impressed with the story, mostly. Less impressed with the editing and proofing (again), hence only 4 stars this time.
You need to read the rest of the series before starting on this book. However, if it's been a while since you've read the other two books, this one does a pretty decent job of recapping what happened in the previous stories without needing a reread.
Everyone's POV is told in third person except for Jeff, as it was with the last 2 books. It's still somewhat annoying to flop back and forth between first and third. Most chapters are from Roman's POV, but some are from Vanessa, Dare, and Jason also.
After finally being freed from his enforced bondage while his neck healed from the accident suffered in Out of the Dungeon, Jeff is now afraid of bondage and doesn't think he can be a submissive any longer. But he loves Roman, and Roman still wants him, even if it's vanilla (non-kink). Jeff moves to Minnesota to be with Roman, and eventually Vanessa follows (view spoiler)[after having Roman's baby, Cassandra (hide spoiler)]. They attempt to have a more egalitarian relationship, which keeps both Jeff and Roman off-kilter because neither knows how to have a "normal," mostly vanilla relationship. And Roman's afraid he's going to re-hurt Jeff.
Roman continues to work with Jason, a new sub in the Minnesota kink scene. Jason is not Dare. Jason wants to submit and have his submission mean something, which is part of why he trusted Roman. Roman is not making the same mistakes with Jason that he made with Dare and Jeff, either. Though Jeff is no longer bound by contract, Roman will not do anything to jeopardize their relationship, and he makes that very clear to both Jeff and Jason.
Jeff likes and gets along pretty well with Jason, so Roman suggests that Jeff be his mentor on submission and service, to which Jeff agrees. Jeff also begins to narrate the scenes between Roman and Jason because he remembers what it is like to be a new sub, experiencing all of this for the first time, and it gets all three of them hot and bothered. But it also underscores a longing in Jeff to do those things that Jason is now being allowed to do, as Roman's submissive, which Jeff still thinks of as his position even though Jeff is, by his own words, "no longer submissive." Jeff envies Roman's relationship with Jason because he understands it as if he's reliving it himself. Only he's not, and he wants to be.
Vanessa is also part of the family this time. Though they all care for each other very deeply and they will always be family of 3 parents to Cassandra, Vanessa begins to keenly feel the relationship between Roman and Jeff healing, leading to a touch of "third wheel" syndrome. She also gets a start in a good direction in this story, which I was happy to see.
We do see Dare and Zach a few of times in this story. The first time was Roman checking in to make sure Dare is okay after things ended. The others are Zach and Dare trying to make things work. The first scene I understood why it should be included in this book. The later scenes just made me scratch my head, because we never followed up on them again after a while. Seems like that storyline should have been removed from this book and added into a book just for Dare and Zach, because they're going to need one.
I think the biggest strength of this story is being inside Jeff's head, experiencing events as he does. It lends his character empathy as we might otherwise not understand why he can't just immediately get back up on the BDSM horse and ride into the sunset with Roman. Jeff's life drastically changed, altered who he was for many months, and it created a fear in him he thought was permanent. The reader can see him struggling with his unhappy thoughts of "I'm no longer a submissive" even though everything he does just screams that he still wants to be, even when it rightfully scares the hell out of him.
Weaknesses: Editing and proofing, again. Beyond the typographical errors (missing or wrong words and punctuation), Roman was previously very harsh about use of profanity, and suddenly he's using it himself? While I buy into the fact that Roman has also changed some in how he relates to Jeff, that particularly idiosyncrasy seemed fairly ingrained into who he is as a Dom, even when being informal. I don't feel like it is something he would've just forgotten. (Or that Jeff wouldn't call him on it.) It feels more like the author forgot the idiosyncrasies of the character. I already mentioned what I thought of the extra Dare and Zach scenes--I liked them, but I felt this was the wrong story to put them in. And then there was the country-club guy from Dare's old life who first called him "Adair" (which Zach made a point of noting, as he hadn't known before then that was Dare's full name), then a few sentences later the same guy called him "Dare"? No, he wouldn't have known that name. There were lots of little things that added up this time around to knock the experience of reading the story down a star.
For those who stick with the story through to the end, there is happiness at the end. It might not be the happiness that was "expected", but then life doesn't always turn out the way we expect, does it? However, I think that HFN/HEA fans will find this ending sufficient to please them, (view spoiler)[because while not truly completely "HEA", it's definitely close enough to truly believe they'll find their way back to their own true happiness. A follow-up short would be a very nice idea if no future volume is coming for their story. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
You really need to read the previous book in the series before you start on this one. Preferably back to back, or if it's been a while, I suspect a re...moreYou really need to read the previous book in the series before you start on this one. Preferably back to back, or if it's been a while, I suspect a reread may be helpful. (As I read them back to back myself, I don't know how well this story works if you don't remember well what happened in the first story.)
I know some other reviewers don't like this book because of the lack of escapism romance in this story (which never even occurred to me until I read other reviews), but the realistic relationship dynamics of the characters truly trumped the lack of romance for me. This isn't escapism; this could be a real relationship happening somewhere in the country right now.
There was not a moment of this story that I didn't completely understand where the characters were coming from, their motivations for their actions. Thus, I completely accepted the consequences of those actions as presented without hating the characters for anything. Every action and reaction made perfect sense.
This story shocked and amazed me with the turns it took. I think I expected the story to take the usual leading-to-a-happy trope-like turns, which is why I was so totally amazed with the directions this story headed instead (much to the chagrin of other readers,(view spoiler)[ who were looking for the "happy" that didn't exactly come (hide spoiler)]). This wasn't a romantic fantasy of HEA. This is a look at a harsh reality of how things can really play out in a poly relationship. Not everything in life is happy or always works out. Things change. Reality changes. And that is this story's strength, not its weakness.
Jeff and Dare are at a breaking point with each other. Dare intuits what is happening with Jeff and doesn't want to be what makes Jeff and Roman's long-time relationship fall apart. He's also not sure he wants the same thing Roman wants anyway. Jeff doesn't want to speak up to Roman because he puts Roman's happiness before his own, even though it's killing him inside. And Roman is too caught up in what he wants to see what it's doing to Dare or Jeff.
And then Jeff is hit by a truck and things come crashing down. Neither Roman nor Jeff can control the events of the next several months of Jeff's life, which is ultimately what unravels them. But the reality is that each only wants the other to be happy and healthy and is willing to do anything to help the other achieve that end, (view spoiler)[even if it means turning away from Roman in Jeff's case and letting Jeff go in Roman's. (hide spoiler)] You may tell me that's not romance, but don't tell me that's not love, because it is. They still love each other more than words can say.
It just cannot be the same love as it was before these events all started. They are different people now because of recent events, and they have to figure out if they can move forward as they are, not try to regain what they lost. And maybe they can move forward.
There are F/F and M/F bits to this book, and they are just as well-driven as the rest of the book. Do not think for a moment that I've described everything which happens in this book in the paragraphs above. There is SO much more that goes on. And every bit of it works together to create a fascinating maelstrom of emotion and activity. It's not HEA, but there is hope in the end. (There is a third book, after all.)
And though I think this book is hands-down better story-wise than the first book, the proofing in this one was lacking, particularly in the last half. There were at least three instances where the name "Dare" should have been "Roman" instead, which seriously messed with my head when I caught them. I had to go back and forth between pages in a couple of cases to make sure I figured out what was intended instead of what was written. Bad form for letting that garbage slip through the proofing cracks. (There are some other proofing issues as well.)
And for those who have read many of my reviews and know how much I harp on proofing, grammar, and such: How much does it say about my feelings on this story that I still choose to give it 5 stars even knowing it had serious issues like that? That's how impressed I was with this book.
I can't wait to read book three. (Though I cringe to think the same proofing issues may exist in the next book. I hope not.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was a short epilogue follow-up to Ash and Darian's quick ending in Glitterland and immediately follows those events. It was a lovely revisit of t...moreThis was a short epilogue follow-up to Ash and Darian's quick ending in Glitterland and immediately follows those events. It was a lovely revisit of the two when Darian discovers Ash's tattoo of Darian's name. Quite satisfying.(less)