I don't know where to start, given that I rated it 5 says a lot. This is the first Cara McKenna novel I've read and I'm obviously impressed. This is one of those novels that made me think about it even after I've read it, and I gave it a high rating for a lot of reasons. My mind's in a mess right now but if I don't write this review, I don't know when I would.
First, for a short story, it packed a lot! The author repeatedly warned the reader about the content of this novel and it's the reader's discretion. It did have consensual role-play "rape" scenes but it didn't bother me in the least. I never felt that Laurel was degraded in anyway, no matter how rough things got. Also, there's no face slapping and physical abuse that went overboard so all is good.
When I first read the part about Laurel exploring the underground boxing ring, I felt the excitement, and I was anticipating what would happen next. Ms McKenna was able to capture my attention, and maintain it. Not all authors could pull this off, and this novel did it effortlessly.
I liked how simple the writing style was yet it focused on Laurel and Flynn. This is way different from the bdsm-themed novels I've read. Ms McKenna was able to build up the characters, introduce them slowly, and bring them to life through their conversation. Yes, this novel screams sex, more on the rough side, but there's more to it than that - a whole lot more.
The dichotomy of Flynn's character was amazing, I like his honesty and candidness, he laid out the rules and Laurel agreed to them. He's an underground boxer who loves the power in rough sex, but he's not really an a-hole because he focuses on what his bed partner wants, and what would work for the both of them. If one is to judge him on the outside, one wouldn't consider how close he is to his elder sister, and family is important to him. I just loved everything about him!
Laurel came on too strong for me but when she got together with Flynn, I admired her guts and spontaneity. She's someone who wanted to fuss over Flynn, like tend to his injuries and cuts, wipe his sweaty face with a towel, and cook him something for dinner. I saw myself in her. Somewhere along the way, Flynn appreciated all these and even made jokes about marriage - which annoyed Laurel. The ending is open, and though there are no words of love here, they're definitely getting there.
I don't want to spoil more of the story, it was a very interesting read. Again, if you're bothered by "rape" scenes, though consensual, do NOT read this.