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Power Play #1


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Give me six months, and I'll give you the world.

Brandon McKinney has scraped and sacrificed for what little in life he's ever had. Though it's been fifteen years since he escaped his father's abuse, the damage remains. Trust seems as far out of reach as his dream of becoming an architect, and though he's come to accept being gay, he can't deny the shame and confusion he feels at other urges--the deeply repressed desire to submit.

Jonathan Watkins is a self-made Silicon Valley billionaire whose ex-wife took half his money and even more of his faith. Comfortable as a Dominant but wary of being hurt again, he resorts to anonymous pickups and occasional six-month contracts with subs seeking only a master, not a lover.

When a sizzling back-alley encounter cues Jonathan in to Brandon's deep-seated submissive side, he makes the man an offer: Give me six months of your life, and I'll open your eyes to a whole new world. Brandon doesn't care about that; all he wants is the three million dollars Jonathan's offering so he can buy the construction company he works for. But he soon learns that six months on his knees is no easy feat, and shame and pride may keep him from all he ever wanted-and all he never dreamed he had any right to have.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains heavy kink. While consent is clearly established and frequently reaffirmed, some moments in Power Play push hard against the outer edges of consent.

267 pages, ebook

First published April 6, 2012

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About the author

Cat Grant

39 books448 followers
If you're looking for epic sci-fi, fantasy, or historicals, that's not me. Contemporary all the way, baby!

However, if you're looking for down to earth, complicated characters dealing with real-world problems (and the occasional comfort read!), I might just fit the bill. :)

My Books:

Courtland Chronicles (m/m & m/m/f)
By Chance
Strictly Business
The Arrangement

Allegro Vivace (m/m)
Sonata Appassionata (m/m)

Icon Men (all m/m)
The First Real Thing (2012 EPIC Award Winner - Erotica)
Appearing Nightly
A Fool for You

Habanera (Originally titled Entangled Trio - 2012 EPIC Award Finalist - Erotica) (m/m/f)

Once a Marine (m/m)

Power Play (with Rachel Haimowitz) (m/m BDSM)
Power Play: Resistance
Power Play: Awakening

Irresistible Attraction (all m/m)
Flawless (2014 EPIC Award Finalist - Short Fiction)


The Only One Who Knows (with LA Witt) - January 2014

The Only One Who Matters (with LA Witt) - March 2014

Black Dog (Bannon's Gym #1) - April 2014

Takedown (Bannon's Gym #2) - July 2014

Guarded (with LA Witt) (work in progress)

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5 stars
462 (27%)
4 stars
557 (32%)
3 stars
365 (21%)
2 stars
154 (9%)
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151 (8%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 317 reviews
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,171 reviews1,025 followers
May 6, 2012
Sure, I'll be your sub: wait, is that a ...?!!

Riveting and enthralling book. Although it's fairly long it's such a page-turner that it seemed very short.

This is not actually a book about a BDSM relationship, although it deals with these kinds of sexual activities, and the heart of the book is the nature of consent. If you like Sean Michael BDSM books, consider carefully if you want to read this: there is no "Mine," "Yours," "It's big," or "I see you." There is, instead, a lot of pain. And extremely harsh 'punishments'.

Jonathan is a billionaire sadist who thinks he's a Dom, however Jonathan has no empathy, no patience, no self-awareness, and no ability to read people. Jonathan's had live-in subs before, and he believes he sees submissive potential in Bran. He offers Bran three million dollars for a six month 24/7 contract. However Bran has no clue about BDSM, no idea what he is getting into, and, importantly, although arguably he has some submissive tendancies, he isn't a sub! Whether Jonathan deliberately takes advantage of this ignorance, or is merely thoughtless and inexperienced is one of the questions the book raises: for example, how can anyone list hard limits in a contract when they have zero clue what is possible? While a Dom would point this out, a sadist would never do so.

Bran is tough; he lived homeless as a teen after escaping his abusive father, and everything he has he earned for himself. Bran's in it for the three million dollars, which has the potential to change him from a day labourer into a business owner, and fulfill his promise to his dead mother to become an architect. Bran is determined to stick out the six months.

The story offers a psychological view of the ensuing train wreck.

The pleasure is in seeing in advance exactly how badly this is going to go. When Jonathan tells Bran "I like you. I want to get to know you better" and then promptly introduces "rule #2. Never speak out of turn....If you have something you’re dying to say and I’ve not asked you a question, you may ask me for permission to speak" we know that this will be a disaster on the scale of the Hindenburg. It's the m/m equivalent of a British panto; the bad guy popping up in the scenery and the audience yelling out "BEHIND YOU!"

The book describes itself as hardcore kink, but this isn't hardcore kink, it's abuse. What makes this book different is that Jonathan doesn't want to be an abuser, he wants to be a Dom. He really truly wants he and Bran to be in a loving relationship where he gets to give beautiful pain as part of that love. He has no clue why his routine of punishment and sexual reward isn't working. We do, because we see it through Bran's eyes as well. Ooooh the deliciousness when Jonathan thinks everything is hunky dory, and we see the pure beautiful rage inside Bran's head.

I'm itching for the second book to find out what's going to happen. If you hate cliff-hangers I suggest you wait for June when book 2 comes out, as there is no conclusion in this book.

To reiterate, please be aware that this is not a BDSM book and pretty much every BDSM rule gets broken. That's the point. Jonathan is like a guy who read about BDSM and decided to be a Dom: he really doesn't know what the hell he's doing, other than that he likes to hurt people. Nothing about this relationship is safe or sane (example of the insanity , and the matter of whether it is consensual is the heart of the book. Nor is this risk-aware consensual kink. Bran has no idea about risks, and Jonathan, in his frustration, loses sight of these around day five.

The actual writing is excellent. The construction of the book is practically invisible: there is nothing in the way of the reader getting under the skin of the characters and their developing relationship.


It's notable that the book blurb emphasizes that this is consensual play, and that consent is reaffirmed throughout the book. I think Riptide (who use Paypal) want to reassure everyone involved that this isn't a book about rape, because of the recent Paypal crackdown against rape and bestiality content in books. However, this does the book a disservice, because what happens between Jonathan and Bran is not consensual play. There is a vast difference between submission offered freely, and being paid three million dollars to let someone hurt you for six months. This book, and clearly the sequel too, explores the line between consent and non-consent. One parallel this book highlights is the sheer economic need that motivates the life choices of all but the 1%. The insistence that the play is consensual removes the interesting dialog which entwines discussion of BDSM activities with the economic realities of any postindustrial society. Bran is all of us.

P.S. I'm still working on the basis that pre-orders don't count for my m/m exile. God I want this month to be over and never have to write another thesis in my life.
Profile Image for Jo * Smut-Dickted *.
2,038 reviews457 followers
June 24, 2012
I'm going to do something I have never done. I'm giving a 5 star rating to a book that made me sob like my heart was broken. I'm talking gut wrenching, full on absolute and utter breakdown. I don't think it would be inaccurate to say this book shredded me raw and left me bleeding on the floor. Life imitating art.

I know this is classified as BDSM. And in places that would be right. However I would be lying if I did not say I also think it is abuse and torture. It is about the breaking of a human being. A man. I've read plenty of war novels and espionage and similar - this one reads no different. As others have noted BDSM is safe, sane, and consensual. In no way do I consider Jonathon's breaking of Brandon to be safe, sane, or consensual. It is not even RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). If I felt for a second that Brandon truly understood his consent then I would not be writing this.

Jonathon states he is a sadistic Dom or Master. I think, previously, that title would have fit because it does appear his previous relationships were consensual and that the submissives were aware of what they were doing and understood what was going to happen. I agree Jonathon is a sadist - certainly he enjoys giving pain (all kinds) and most especially seems to relish unwanted pain. To award him the title of Dom or Master - well that's where we differ. In my mind he's neither. The power exchange in BDSM brings something to both parties. It may be unequal but I believe it should not be uneven. Here is where this book falters for me. I'm not nearly naive enough to buy that a good Dom is there to bring his submissive pleasure nor is a good submissive only about pleasing the Dom. At least all the time. But I have to believe that each person brings clear intelligent thought to the table. After all being able to think is what separates species right?

Brandon had no idea of what he was getting into. None. Could he have investigated it? Surely he could have and should have but doing so would not have led to his understanding of what was going to happen for one very prominent simple fact. There is no BDSM manual or website for abuse and torture. It doesn't exist. There is no BDSM 101 for this sort of thing, no groups to join, no discussion boards to post on. Bran would have been barking up the wrong tree. Jonathon, as a self declared Dom, was supposed to be his guide. He couldn't be anything further from that if he tried.

What has made Jonathon the way he is - I could care less. He is what he is. I abhor Jonathon. I find no redeeming quality to the man - and I felt like all the "kudos" that was put in to make him seem human via the good works of his charity served only to try and balance his actions. Nice try. Didn't work.

Of course the same could be said for Bran in terms of he is what he is. He made a bad choice that will forever irrevocably alter the course of his life. I don't see Bran perfect - far from. In my mind he's greedy - he covets that company enough to make a pact with the devil. And what happens when he realizes it is the devil? His pride and arrogance and stubborn nature make him stay and even return. Is it Stockholm? Brainwashing? Does it matter? It just is. I was baffled when he came back with the word "whore" being what bothered him. Brandon is smart. There is no way I buy that -- here is one of the few places I felt the writing broke down. I felt cheated. You cannot put me in someone's head, take me with them on a one way journey to HELL, and then expect me to buy this crap. Seriously? He'd of never said it. I expected the TRUTH out of him and I feel I deserved it for watching him being abused for so long.

Then you have non masochist Bran. A masochist and a submissive are two different things folks. Are some people both? Yes. Is this required? No. There was the fact - here's my opinion. I don't think Brandon is a submissive. Yes you read that right. Nowhere here did the writing convince me of that. It makes it very difficult to buy all the other parts if you cannot make the reader believe that the fundamental premise of it all is true.

For Bran, the things he craves, what he wants, I don't see springing from a submissive mindset (this carries into the second book BTW). If you get rid of the money construct what Bran wants is to feel at peace. He wants to not think so much. Newsflash: You don't have to be beat and tortured to achieve those things. Try yoga or meditation or a really great vacation in the Islands.

Nowhere here does Brandon desire to please except to avoid torture. He does't feel like he cannot control his life. He's unhappy with it due to his unfortunate situation. But he is in control. Does he wish to give up that control? Not really. It's about the money. That does not a submissive make. It makes a bargain plain and simple. Submissives normally want to please and to give up control. They may enjoy pain (if they have masochistic tendencies or are a masochist) but this is not required - for many take the pain to please the Master. Some submissives believe that their Dom or Master can better make decisions for them then they can - in one,two, or all areas. Others would like to revert to an object like existence in an attempt to become less than or sub human. Yet the key piece is, and always will be, their desire to be submissive. There is really nowhere in this book (absent major abuse/torture) where Bran is of this mindset. There are glimmers sometimes that he could be more inclined to D/s but nothing that indicates it would be more than sugar kink or bedroom fun. Pain does not make him hard. In order to enjoy it he has to be trained to it. Even animal trainers caution you can "train" the animal into a beast by not understanding how far to go.

I could talk for hours about all the other aspects of the book. Why did Jonathon make a contract with someone who was not a masochist? Why does Jonathon not feel remorse over his actions? Why did Bran stay?

In the end I thought the most likely real world scenario is that Bran stays, Jonathon gets tired of him eventually (I don't consider sociopaths ripe fields for long term emotional commitments), and Bran ends up on the street when discarded or with someone who will eventually kill him. That was the unhappily-ever-after reality check I was faced with when done. I desperately wanted to believe Jonathon would be held accountable for his actions but I'm a realist. His turn will have to come in the next life.

I think humans are amazing creatures - but there is a point at which redemption cannot be found and some cannot be saved or helped. A point at which all the glue in the world cannot put a person together again. And that's it. Why the breakdown. Because Bran deserves redemption. Jonathon, however, does not. I'd have zero problems putting a bullet right between his eyes. No problem at all.

So now you are really wondering why the 5 stars. It is simple and complicated. Full of emotion and yet emotion less. Black and White. Regardless of content. Of my feelings on the actual story itself. This book held me in its clutches as surely as if I was strung up and hung from the hooks myself. The gamut of feelings I had while reading were so dramatic and shocking I felt like I was coming out of my skin.

The writing....the writing. To wring these emotions out of me. The one who does not cry. Whose exterior is cold as ice. Honestly I might of said it could not be done. Perhaps will never be done again. To make me love when I hate, to fight while I yield, to cry in my fury. Powerful Stuff.

Powerful Stuff.
Profile Image for Nazanin.
1,036 reviews588 followers
December 31, 2018
5 Bloody Hell! Stars

Resistance is a journey of a Dom (Jonathan) and his sub (Bran) but a mess of a journey! The sub was wild, undisciplined, full of stubborn pride and so resistant. And the Dom, well he didn’t really a good job here! The story is full angsty and you don’t find it romantic, yes a bit affectionate (Johanathan toward Bran) but not romantic. Bran is so confused about his feelings toward Jonathan, most of the time cursed him and was so hateful but sometimes he felt something more. well, I don’t know which one I liked more or disliked because one minute I wanted to slap Bran and adore Jonathan but the next I wanted to punch Jonathan and adore Bran!! When I started reading it I wouldn't guess that I'd love it this much! Looking forward to reading book 2 and hope I find it less punishable and more romantic. Told in dual POV, 3rd person. It’s the first installment in the "Power Play" series, it’s well-written, fast-paced and a bit cliffy but not a huge one. All in all, loved it and hope you enjoy it as well!
Profile Image for Nithu.
42 reviews8 followers
April 7, 2012
I read the blurb about this book some time ago and was really looking forward to it being published. In particular, I was intrigued by Brandon, his background and the issues that could raise for him, particularly regarding BDSM; I was looking forward to seeing how he would address those, with Jonathan's help.

As it turned out, Jonathan didn't really help Bran address anything at all. I finished this book feeling not just disappointed, but extremely upset. I had a lot of problems with this story and the portrayal of Bran and Jonathan (especially Jonathan.)

I really don't know if I want to read the next book in the series. Part of me still wants to see Bran come to terms with who he is and follow him on that journey, but I'm not sure if I can forgive Jonathan.
Profile Image for Darien.
838 reviews327 followers
March 10, 2018

Still one of the greatest BDSM books out there. 5++++ 🌟 then, 5+++++ 🌟 now, 5++++ 🌟 forever!! Bran and Jonathan 4 Eva

Let me begin by saying that this book was just surprises, rises, and falls. Cat and Rachel did something wonderful in this book, and left me in love with Power Play and its characters. Dynamics were switched, emotions put to the test, mistakes were made, and its one of the best BDSM novels I have read. What a pants losing this one caused.

Brandon McKinney has been on his own for a long time; he knows the meaning of a hard life and depends on no one but himself. He’s a ‘slam bam thank you man’ kinda guy when it comes to sexual encounters. He doesn’t want anyone to get too close, because that would involve a little trust, and trust isn’t really a Bran thing. When he’s approached by a man who clearly looks like he should be hanging uptown instead of Chinatown, Bran think he’s gonna get his dick wet and walk away. What transpires in the alley behind bar leaves Bran shaken, and the little man who literally brought him to his knees engraved in his mind.

Jonathan is a self-made billionaire, use to the finer things in life but he’s worked very hard for his things. As a Dom he’s able to recognize the sub in a person, and he’s getting that vibe from Bran, and he wants nothing more than to have him is his bed, and to play in his dungeons. He knows getting Bran to play will be difficult, but he’s willing to work on brining out the submissive in the man because he feels the payout will be worth it. So what does one offer a man that would make him his submissive? Something he wants above all else, in a shiny package and only 6months to get it.

It’s not hard to recognize that there will be disaster ahead, with Brandon’s past of being abused by his father and the things that Jonathan wants from him. Jonathan as a Dom is unrelenting and set in his ways and Bran though submissive to certain things is finding it hard to give up complete control. The men clash and cause more harm than good, and somehow along the way it becomes a battle of power with the seasoned Dom, losing the essence of what it truly means to Dom. I am no expert when it comes to D/s elements but Mr Jonathan Watkins makes some mistakes. It became more about breaking Brandon than nurturing him to his submissive nature.

Bran is not free of my wrath, he just became too stubborn and could have caused himself harm along the way, and his pigheadedness really got under Jonathans’ skin, which caused world war three in fancy apartment of Mr Watkins. Though Brans voice is the carrier in the book, I have yet to truly learn anything about him. I know enough but not nearly enough, because Jonathan was to be his voice and his carrier but he just became his enabler to nothing (if that makes sense). The line between hurt/harm was crossed, because both men were just not in the right headspace to be playing with whips, chains, and tasers. Which leads me to a realistic conclusion, that sometimes even the most knowing of individuals makes mistakes and it takes a strong person to come back from those mistakes.

As I much as I loved this book, I am also somewhat disappointed. I perturbed by Jonathan’s behaviour and thinks that he needs to do some serious apologizing. I am disappointed in Bran because he threw his safety out the window trying to stick it to Jonathan. I am disturbed by Jonathan’s cook; she probably has a dungeon of kinky delights in her own home. I am terrified that I found myself laughing aloud at the most shocking of times ‘Miss Grant and Haimowitz have a twisted sense of humour’. Also… I am seriously in love with Jonathan, though as Bran would say “he fucking terrifies me”.

Overall, Power Play: Resistance is splendid and fascinating. It’s gripping and pushes your boundaries, while remaining sensual and erotic. I do love Bran and John together, and they have like a Mount Everest worth of growing to do. At this point all I’m thinking is “Who am I gonna have to sleep with to speed up time?” I want it to be June already.

More of my reviews and ramblings at PANTS OFF REVIEWS
Profile Image for Literatures Movies.
435 reviews328 followers
January 12, 2018
I'm at loss for words. Let me just sit down for a minute and regroup myself because this book is going to be hard to review.

Because hot damn


This book was GOOD

And I mean, really really good. And really freaking hot.


After all the DNF-ing warfare that has been happening with almost all the books I have been reading 2018, I must say, this book was worth the wait. I would go through all those DNFs again if it brought me to this book.

Despite so many readers shelving this as BDSM, this is not a book that shows a healthy relationship between a Dom and a Sub. Of course I am no pro when it comes to BDSM lifestyle, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but this book is definitely not an accurate depiction of BDSM lifestyle, so don't be reading this book and go swinging with your canes and whips the next day.

Now into the characters.

While this book is focused on BDSM lifestyle and the D/s relationship, Jonathan (the Dom) seem to have no idea what he is doing. I mean, I guess he has some inkling in how a D/s relationship works, but it is as if this guy read one FSOG book and decided this lifestyle is for him. And no, I am not saying that it's bad because everything is a learning process, but it is definitely interesting to see this cocky and all assured man take someone in and proclaim that he is a Dom when he has no freaking clue how a real Dom/Sub relationship works.


And Bran (the supposedly Sub) is bullheaded to the core. He fights Jonathan every step of the way, constantly cursing and throwing profanities his way, not wanting to submit to him. But to some extent – which he wouldn't admit to himself – he enjoys what Jonathan did to him, but of course, no way in hell is he going to let Jonathan knows that.


Thus it begins. Their tug of will with Jonathan keep on trying to break Bran, wanting him to be the sub that he believes Bran can be and Bran not willing to go down without a fight.

Seeing by my review so far, I am pretty sure most people would have already been turned off by how I depict Jonathan. But truly, he is so much more than that. While there are things that he could have done and executed differently, I do believe in learning curve.

Most of the time I would have DNF-ed without a thought at an author that writes her books based on BDSM theme but has no idea what she is doing, this book is different. The connection between Jonathan and Bran is definitely there despite everything that happened.

For the past day, I have been hiding in my room – other than eating, drinking and showering – I did nothing else but marathon though this book like a madman, stayed up to read until I can't open my eyes anymore because it's just that good.

Now I am onto the second book and I can't wait to see more of Jonathan and Bran. and of course, also looking forward to see how the story and characters will evolve. I'm so freaking excited! See ya there!


For more of my reviews, click : here
Profile Image for Shelley.
395 reviews487 followers
November 22, 2013
I have had my eye on this book for more than a year. Never quite willing to cross the line for fear of having my toes chopped off. So now that my understanding has matured – it was time to take a big breath, grab the whiskey and get to it.

“I’m not going to pretend this will all be flowers and orgasms.”

I have never read anything quite like this; the basic plot (on the surface) appears to be formulaic BDSM but it is not. I am horrified when what should have been a slow, nurtured, easing into the life of a 24/7 power exchange submissive disintegrates into a brutal and twisted battle of wills.

Arrogance wars with shame, pride wars with determination and when communication crumbles these men become trapped in an endless, sickening clash of opposition. Information is power. Communication is key and Jonathan (arrogant little fuckwit) as Dom FAILS in this …horribly. His notion of being cruel to be kind removes the sane from Safe, Sane and Consensual. His generosity is double edged to pave the way to his own pleasure, ignoring the signs, not KNOWING that trust is crucial. I hated him and yet … against my will, underneath the self-serving arrogance I almost understood him. Almost.

Bran is in it for the money (so he keeps telling himself) his pride and self-respect are his only Master. His endurance and resistance is utterly heart breaking, his hate is tangible, his humiliation turns my stomach, his pain makes me want to end it, just stop reading and pick up some fluffy YA to scrub my brain.

Fuck me! This is hard, but I can take it, it’s just fiction right? So pass the whiskey. Brutal scenes of whippings, caning, humiliation, electrification, restricted confinement and sleep deprivation are not tempered in the slightest. Torture I thought; but is it truly torture when the door to freedom stands open and all you have to say is one word and it all stops?

I WISHED for Bran to say it – just SAY IT – surrender it Bran – just DO IT! And then I switch to NO! Don’t say it – don’t let him take your pride – you are not a whore! Don’t give in – come on – be strong … And so it went on and on in my head, relentless push and pull emotions mixed with horror. I can’t stop though (only for whiskey); my heart beats too fast through it all, my fingers hold on too tight and I’ve sacrificed my finger nails to endure it.
BOTH these characters have crawled under my skin. The writer’s skill in building the angst and anticipation is remarkable. The way they BOTH twist my emotions in favour and against each character is excellent. I TRUSTED the writers to take me to the edge, teetering, arms flapping, but not falling. I’m glad I never read this a year ago; I would have fallen flat on my face! The author’s dedication is what kept me going and still gives me hope for Awakening.

For everyone who’s ever felt shame at their desires. Don’t. Be proud; you are perfect the way you are.

There is a slight offering of optimism at the end of Resistance but my nerves are rubbed too raw to appreciate it right now. My anger is not yet tempered. These guys have got a long way to go; I just really hope it’s worth it.

Did I like this book? Not particularly, it’s not a comfortable read but it is an extremely compelling and admirable work. I loved the courage, the fight, the psychological insight and the crazy angst. I love the way my understanding and affection for both MC’s was my torment. Does that make me a psychological masochist? Maybe. Probably.

Recommended for the black coffee crowd, the neat whiskey drinkers and if you’re a BDSM newbie? Pah ….cross the line if you dare but be prepared to lose your toes.

4.5 Stars

 photo PersonalizedBannerShelley_zps19d57c8a.jpg
Profile Image for Bree.
8 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2012
This wasn't BDSM. This was abuse. And torture. All for the sake of abuse and torture and shock value. I didn't see this as some big psychological foray into BDSM, but simply a power-hungry degenerate beating and humiliating a man. Usually I can take disturbing, but this makes me really question what the authors were trying to do because I think they failed.

I wish these abuse stories would stop being labeled as BDSM or being praised at groundbreaking. It gives the BDSM community a bad name. I have to agree with the other reviewers that this is horrific and just plain bad. Now I wish I hadn't bought both books at once. :(
Profile Image for Kat.
940 reviews
December 4, 2016
When I realized this is not satire, I quickly lost interest. Is there anything less sexy than a wannabe dom written by a clueless writer? Fruitloop Jonathan is your typical toodomforyou.tumblr.com "dom", sigh. I actually think I'd prefer Christian Grey? Hysterical. If this wasn't so shittily written as well, the story might have worked nicely in the form of a pure non con/abduction story.

Profile Image for Jenn.
420 reviews205 followers
May 24, 2013
This will be a review rant and there will be tons and tons and tons of spoilers so don't read if that's not your thing. This rating stands depending on the next book. I have some ideas of what's going on and where it's heading. However, the last 4% had me a bit perplexed so if it doesn't head in a different direction I might change my rating. This book is very well written, but it pissed me the hell off. Ok Spoiler time.

I already bought the second one and plan on starting it tonight. If the authors can convince me that Jonathan knows he was wrong, then it will be a brilliant series.

Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,758 reviews3,830 followers
October 5, 2013

I’m fairly certain I should be writing about how much I hated this book but… I didn’t. I really liked it actually mainly because both of these guys are deftly written with flaws which makes them relatable not to mention interesting. Also, this is a cautionary tale to always ALWAYS read the fine print & ask questions before signing anything. Ever!

Bran is trying to drown his sorrows in a bar one night when Jonathan walks in. There is an attraction of a sort between the two but Bran has no intention of acting upon it. He’s more concerned with his dilemma of how to raise three million dollars to take over the construction company where he works. Jonathan pursues, gets Bran to open up a little, they have a quasi intense encounter after which Jonathan gives Bran his card. Then it gets a little stalkerish & we find out that it just so happens Jonathan’s wealthy, really wealthy. I wouldn’t characterize Bran as desperate but he really wants to make something of himself & he’s got some great ideas for future developments which makes him more… amenable. Where the problem lies is Bran’s history of abuse, neglect, homelessness & a constant level of struggling that he's had to contend with since adolescence which makes him prideful yet kind of awesome. Bran is a smart ass, definitely stubborn & tough as nails. He ain't goin' down without a fight.

Jonathan on the other hand has an eccentric past filled with hippie parents, a commune, a Doogie Houser-like education & somewhere along the way he became a fairly accomplished sadist. He sees (or thinks he does most of the time) a submissive tendency in Bran that he would like to see flourish. So he makes Bran an offer: 6 months being his slave at the end of which he’ll give him the three million. You can imagine just how well that offer went over. But… Bran decides he wants that company so off we go. And muthafuckah does it ever go. Jesus, talk about diving into the deep end with a concrete block strapped to your back. Two words: no mercy. I mean, it goes from intense to humiliating to plain brutal. I kept thinking Bran’s going to opt out of this any second now & guess what? Yup, he lasts & lasts & lasts. I have no idea how. Stubborn ass.

Thankfully, this is told from both perspectives so the reader knows the rationale behind both of their actions. The trouble is they both have blind spots. Bran’s pride which turns quickly into disrespectful then morphs into flat out hatred. By the time Jonathan decides they need to have a conversation minus the M/s dynamics it’s already too far gone thus it goes without saying that nothing productive comes of this conversation. Jonathan reaches out to his mentor whom he refers to as a “Dom extraordinaire” & I thought, ‘Finally!’ but that guy just tells him to get “medieval”. WTF?!?! Gah! No, no, no, no, no, no, NOOOOOOOOOO! I wanted to tap Jonathan on the shoulder & say, ‘hey, how about you try a different tactic?’. How many times does one have to do the same thing getting the same result for that person to go, ‘huh, this isn’t working’? NO SHIT! And, p.s., I think that’s the unofficial definition of crazy.

All that being said, the dynamic between these two was what made it so compelling; it kept me up until the wee hours. I actually did like both Bran & Jonathan as much as I wanted to staple things to them both at times. The character development from both perspectives gives it depth as well as enough background information to get a sense of who they are, how they think, what makes them tick, if you will, which is what I really enjoy about reading. So, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to everyone but if you enjoy gritty, dark & intense BDSM you’ll most likely enjoy this.
Profile Image for Steelwhisper.
Author 5 books390 followers
August 5, 2013
Sigh. Asked once too often to read this, I herewith state I already read this end of last year. No. Didn't like it one bit. But that was logical, heh?

Oh, the blurb lies. This contains no consent of any valid and informed kind. At all. It's pure abuse.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
850 reviews7 followers
October 28, 2016
ok now to try and write a coherent review of that fucked-up mess. I'm going to leave the rating until after I've read the 2nd book because... I really just don't know.....

(edit edit- Oct 2016 - I still get soooooo angry remembering this book, so 2 stars it is!!

EDIT - I've rated this three stars because, things work out well... I really want to give it two stars but... it did have good points and the writing WAS great and the second book is super sweet)

So I had read a few reviews before going into this, so I knew I'd be reading about abuse and torture in the guise of BDSM but I really wanted to like it, so throughout reading I thought of every excuse for Jonathan's behaviour and in the end I felt just as confused as Bran, it was actually very reminiscent of a Stockholm syndrome relationship. Jonathan was harsh and unforgiving in his punishments, then would be so sweet, gentle and tender that I found myself (like Bran) really liking Jonathan, then I'd remember what he did just a page ago and be sooo confused! It was like any feeling other than pain was welcome.

I think the problem was Jonathan went about this all the wrong way. I think he was right that Bran is a submissive but due to his past of physical abuse from his father he's learnt that submitting is weakness. He's strong and he sees pain and punishment as something to defeat not surrender too. Where Jonathan went COMPLETELY wrong was he used physical pain to try and push Bran past his reservations about submitting and there was not one real conversation about Brandon's limits. He was a complete novice, never even seen a flogger, to expect him to put up reasonable limit up front was ridiculous!

Don't even get me started on the safeword!!! Bran said it 5 times during very painful 'punishments' and Jonathan told him, 'Don't say it unless you mean it', then continued on. That last 10% was only torture

The ending... was good and bad.

I'm off to read the next, if Jonathan doesn't redeem himself I'll rip his nuts off and feed them to him.... or just stop reading.
Profile Image for Heather C.
1,456 reviews210 followers
April 16, 2012
I went way past my comfort zone reading this book!! I knew this level of intense BDSM wouldn't be for me at all, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could read it.  And surprisingly I actually liked it...to an extent.  I think I couldn't put it down mostly because it was so shockingly horrific for my poor, little, innocent self. I also think it was written well and the pace was quick. So much happened in the short span of time the book covered.
First of all, I don't really understand the need for this lifestyle.  I mean, in no way can this be functionally healthy, right? Anyway, with that being said, I did like the 'power play' between Jonathan and Bran; Bran's repeated 'resistance' to submit and Jonathan's struggle to break him.  So, yeah, the title fits perfectly. 
Second, I only found like 3 of the sex scenes hot (the ones that didn't involve pain).  All the others made me a little squeamish...
Third, I think that Jonathan failed Bran. He basically gave up and did everything he could to get Bran to leave. I hope he's learned from his mistakes and I see growth and change in him throughout the next book. 
Fourth, there really isn't anything emotional between Jonathan and Bran, past the sex.  And I really don't feel like I know these characters much at all.  Especially Jonathan.  What makes him have these sexual kinks? What makes Bran need to be dominated by Jonathan? I hope that that will be further explored in the next book.
Finally, even though this is probably the most horrific thing I've ever read, I couldn't stop reading it and I still want to read the sequel Power Play: Awakening. This book only covers 3 weeks of the 6 month contract between Jonathan and Bran, so I'm curious to see where this will go next. 
Profile Image for La-Lionne.
482 reviews776 followers
October 24, 2013
***5 intense and powerful stars***


I love when a book leaves me speechless, when it takes a while to find the right words to describe it. The Power Play did exactly that. In a good way of course :).

I found the relationship between Jonathan and Bren absolutely fascinating. I liked that the story was told from both J's and B's point of views.
The beginning was pretty smooth and ordinary. Two guys meet in bar, have couple of drinks, talks a little, finds each other attractive and ends up... Uhm.. You know :). Jonathan gives Bren his business card, asking Bren to call him, and Brent is left with "what the hell does a guy like him wants from a guy like me?"

We have Jonathan, or as Bren calls him "Rich little sh*t".
Fuck you, you fucking rich asshole. You can afford to savor your aged gruyere and your fresh fruit and your fucking chocolate pancakes. To linger for an hour over your gourmet coffee beens shit from a civet and your copy of the Wall Street Journal.
Jonathan is a Crème de la Crème of Doms. "Fallow my rules and we will both enjoy the journey, defy me and you will... Well, for your own good you better don't." He's not a mean Dom, but he is a sadist at heart :). He comes across as confidant and in control, just like a Dom should, but when he gets involved with Bren, he finds himself way over his head. You see, he made a little proposition to Bren. It's nothing dark and dirty. Not at first. He was looking for submissive and thought that Bren could fill those shoes.

Then we have Bren. Who is a pretty cool guy, guy's guy, and at first, doesn't seem like a submissive type. He defies Jonathan every chance he gets. Which not only gets him punished, makes him angry an frustrated, but makes this whole thing harder on Jonathan, too.
He, too, is over his head. He thought he could handle it, but his pride and/or his past, gets him into trouble more often than not.

The story is about two men: one struggling to let go of his past demons, the other one is struggling to show the first one how good it could be if he would.

The story had couple of very powerful and heartbreaking scenes. I rarely get teary eye reading a story as such, but I did while reading this one. The scene where J stormed in, in the middle of the night, and the other one was their conversation at the end of the story, those were my favorites.

I have to warn you though, the story has extreme BDSM and therefore is not for everyone. The line between con and non con is blurry. It has quite a few scenes that makes you cringe. But that wasn't what I found fascinating. The psychological insight of their relationship was what drew me in. Unlike a lot of BDSM books, this book is not about Dom trying to heal a sub, by trying to whip sub's demons out of him. Although it sounded like it at first. It's about finding a middle ground. It teaches that trust, honesty and communication, especially in these kind of relationships, are the key.

I fell in love with the writing only couple of pages in. It's extremely well written. The story had just right amount of information, no unnecessary description.
"If I learned anything in life, it's that nothing worth having comes easy, and you've gotta be willing to fight for what matters to you."

I'll defiantly be reading the next book in the series.

***ARC courtesy of Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review***
October 1, 2018
What The Heck!

OMH, WHAT Did I Just Read....SOOOOO---->Not My Thing!?

Why did I buy this? Gosh, in 2012, I felt like so many people have rated this book so great, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. You know , it was like slowing down to rubber neck a bad train wreck.

And, after reading Counterpoint in 2011-2012, of which I adored. So in 2012, I bought this book. I decided what have I got to lose. But, I held on....because I was still a wee bit frighten to actually read it.

2015....3 years later.....I FINALLY DID IT! AND FINISHED IT! And, this is how I feel after reading this storyline....

OmG dID YoU 'per se' SEE THaT!

What a fu*ked up ride.

Well I felt it the intensity of this book. I also felt as though I was on that train...however, I survived! And honestly,going into this book did feel like a bad train wreck. I thought I knew what I was getting into....but, no...this is way worse close up...so many injuries so much sadness.


-This book commanded my attention. I don't know how the writer pulled that off because I do not really care for ABUSIVE BDSM....not, my thing by far.

-I really loved Johnthan, (he is my fav) he was such a misguided pup.

-I really really liked Brandon. A lot! He was strong tough and sweet. Albeit misguided too.

-I hated the abuse---> especially when

-The two MCs together; gosh, I adored them both so much. I wanted to slap them and I also wanted to hug them cuddle them and just simply love them.

- The SC Sabrina...l loathed her...really really loathed!!

My Rating.....None...because this book can NOT stand alone
Profile Image for Kol Anderson.
Author 37 books360 followers
August 10, 2013
How these guys made a short guy like Jonathan come across as the most dominating guy in the history of mankind is beyond me. I'm sorry I'm partial to characters who're a little fucked up in the head, and Brandon was just fucking perfect. The torture scenes, yes, despite the consensual BDSM plot there is some SERIOUS depraved dub-con/non-con torture activity which was all written so deliciously well. Everything is very very graphic and gratuitous and just the way I love it. *sigh* I hear a lot of people pointing out mistakes with the plot, but IMHO it is not one of those books that pretend to be something they're not. Yes, Jonathan is a bit of an asshole, but I don't mind Doms being assholes as long as they're good at what they do, and being an asshole is besides the point, if you're also hot and obsessed, and a gazillionaire.

Brandon isn't sure. As a pain-slut/sub you're never sure. That's kind of the whole point. The fear or the anticipation of how bad it could get and does get, that's also what makes it (dare I say it) 'fun.' Jonathan is NOT a perfect Dom, but no one ever is. To me it's just beautiful how much he wants Brandon. How everything Brandon does is perfect to him and yes people get irritated and annoyed with each other and do stupid things, but on the whole he totally WANTS him, really bad, probably more than Brandon wants him to be honest. Brandon has that whole money aspect going on, but Jonathan truly sees something in him, is obsessed with HIM.

This is dub-con/non-con erotica. Sit down, shut up, and let Jonathan fuck your submissive little brains out.
Profile Image for Smith Barney.
398 reviews99 followers
April 25, 2014
Pretty intense kink and mutha-f-ing-mind-blowing power-play..and probably not for the faint-hearted.


The second book is even better and really has to be read to appreciate the story as a whole. My rating for this raised quite a bit after reading Power Play: Awakening.

I actually have more appreciation for this writers singular work versus her dual-authored work. Interesting kinkster..that's for certain.
Profile Image for Sara .
1,402 reviews155 followers
October 22, 2013
I thought what I needed was time to process this book but no amount of time will do that. I am shaking my head just thinking about what I read and debating on how to rate this utter mind fuck. This is half review/half rant complete with a few colorful words and I will warn you, here there may be spoilers. Not many but consider your self warned.

This story starts out simple. Boy meets boy in a bar. Boys have a bit of intense sexual activity in the alley; boy leaves his business card just in case. Boy calls number on card, boys have a date/dinner together, share a few stories, a few smiles, some great sex and the next date leads to “become my sex slave for six months and you get everything you will need to live happily ever after.” What the ever living fuck? Now I am not a prude nor do I shy away from the genre of dark erotica or taboo. Hell, one of my favorite books happens to be a Master/Slave story but this…this is not a kinky book. This is not even “Your Kink Is Not My Kink” because the only thing that could be classified as kink was their first time having sex in a bed with the handcuffs. Anything after Bran signs Jonathan’s contract was not kink, it was abuse.

Have you ever seen a wild horse be broken? This book would be the equivalent. Horses are proud, strong and stubborn. What they don’t want it to be saddled, ridden and confined to cage. Breaking a horse is beyond difficult; I have seen it done as I used to work on a ranch over the summers. Bran, he is a beautiful horse who wants that nuzzle of a hand, that soft stroke on his flank, that word of encouragement that makes him want to please. What he isn’t… is submissive. I firmly believe the man does not have a single submissive bone in his body. Not one. If he did, that month those first fucking days would not have been so difficult for him. He would not have fought so damn hard to keep control. Yes, I know that some people have a “submissive” tendency and can be taught/trained but the railing against what Jonathan wanted even when he wasn’t deserving demerits, was not that of a sub. Yes, Bran was attracted to Jonathan and wanted what he gave him but on a lighter level.

Did he want it? So hard to forgive him for what he’d done, though. To forgive him for being so fucking edible all the time, even when he was a total ass, infuriating, heartless and cruel. So hard to forgive himself for wanting the little shit anyway. Maybe that’s what happened when you broke.

In a relationship there has to be communication, whether it’s full on kink or plain old vanilla. You have to talk. I get that Jonathan was the big bad Dom but I honestly think if he took the time to explain more of what has going on than just simply stating “this is how it is” to Bran things might have been different. You need to talk folks. The contract, I wanted a bit more of that. What was in it? I didn’t need to see it repeatedly but I would have liked the cliff notes version of it. Bran, he isn’t submissive and if he has the tendencies they sure as fuck are not in line with a masochist. Why would Jonathan do this to him? No remorse, no feeling no nothing. Even after the talk with his friend, there wasn’t enough from Jonathan in that respect. What happened to the Jonathan from the beginning of the book; the Jonathan that was fascinated by “who” Bran was. What, Bran signs on the dotted line and Mr. Jeckle arrives? Ugh. I honestly love a good dark erotic story but this; there is a fine line between kink and abuse that I think this book teeters on. A submissive wants the control taken away from them, it’s freeing to let go and just do what you are told. Maybe not in a 24/7 relationship but in that place where it’s their role they revel in it. Revel in what it gives them and gives the Dom. It’s supposed to be a win/win situation. Bran never lets go. The times he is in “Sub Space” um, he blacked out…Sub Space my ass. I liked Jonathan in the beginning, I really thought this would be a story of sexual self discovery but this was more of “do what I say or else.” Those punishments? Not the first but when Bran wouldn’t eat; talk about hard pages to get through. Jonathan is a sadist and I do understand that, I just happen to prefer my Sadistic Dom with side of morality.

"Yet, here you are."

Ugh, Bran what the hell did you get yourself into? I don’t think even you really knew and the one time you actually talk to Jonathan about that it’s clear you didn’t. “Three million dollars, remember? It’s not like you didn’t know what you were signing on for? Except, he supposed, for the part where he really actually kinda hadn’t known.” The money, you kept thinking about the money and the tender side of Jonathan. “Shit. Please don’t tell me I did not just come thinking about Jonathan being tender.�� I yelled at my Nook so many times, “Just fucking leave Bran, LEAVE!” You took way more than I could have and it was difficult to read. I agree with most of your assessments of Jonathan.

Oh fuck the throat. Bran wanted to punch him in the fucking nuts.

Good Lord this book has me twisted tighter than a chronic masturbator waiting for the confessional. Trust me, I could go on and on with what bugged me about it, what I feel and what I wanted to see done. Bottom line, there was so many misunderstandings in this story, a whole sink hole full of the communication that was lost and SHOULD have been included. Both men are so damn stubborn that neither of them was going to bend. I know I need the next book NOW, I have to see what happens and if it’s redeemable. Boys, I am not sure about that ending, about those last two scenes or what is going to happen next but I am with you for it. I need to know, I want to know and for fucks sake in the next book TALK!

Now, after my rant, let me clarify the rating and yes, I did read the disclaimer provided. Why the four stars? The writing is fantastic! The story telling is superb. The words flow off the page seamlessly and even the tough scenes become a page turner. Had this book lacked in readability, I would have dnf’d it about half way through, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Also, any book that can push my buttons this hard and make me salivate to read the next in the hopes that they prove me wrong deserves a high rating on my scale.

***And now for my kinky PSA***

I do need to toss something about there, not only to this book but to many books that use BDSM; all the detail about the instruments, the stripes, the welts, the bruises, the strength of the swings with the flogger/whip/crop/cane are fantastic but folks, please don’t forget to include the After Care in there. It is just as important. I think it was mentioned slightly once in this book about a “special lotion” but when you are going at it as hard as Jonathan did with Bran, shit…help the man out to heal. That is all.

Review copy provided by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley.

Profile Image for BookAddict  ✒ La Crimson Femme.
6,619 reviews1,258 followers
July 12, 2012
What happens when a strong man with hidden submissive tendencies comes across a powerful man who wants to dominate him? What happens when the experienced dominant forces a vanilla man into submission without a shred of teaching? Resistance is the answer. Brandon is a stubborn construction manager who is picked up at a bar by the self made man, Jonathan. Jonathan and Brandon’s chemistry is like lithium in water, explosive. Jonathan chases Brandon and makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Brandon needs the money and is willing to give six months of his life as a sexual slave to earn the money he needs to buy the construction company he wants.

This story is an intense BDSM story which clearly demonstrates how a BDSM relationship can turn so wrong. It is stated over and over again that Jonathan is a much sought after Dom who trains submissives very well. This may be the case. Here’s the interesting thing. He’s only ever trained willing submissives who are in the BDSM lifestyle and want to submit. This key element is what makes this story so painful to read. Brandon is neither versed in the lifestyle nor is Jonathan teaching him anything other than pain, humiliation and abuse.

Jonathan’s domination style is very hot and a Dom I’d be willing to submit to for six months. This is only because there would be negotiation up front and I would know what I’d be signing up to experience. I would be a willing sub with known hard and soft limits. The negotiation scene in this story is maybe two sentences. There were no discussions of hard or soft limits. All Brandon asked for was no blood. This shocked me since Brandon doesn’t even want to be in the BDSM lifestyle. Jonathan did nothing to prepare Brandon whatsoever.

Jonathan is also a Dom who is tired of playing with one sub after another. He wants a relationship. He wants what his friend has found – a soul mate. He thinks Brandon is the one. He wants Brandon as his 24/7 slave. Never once did Jonathan explain what his expectations are and what he wants Brandon to do. He expected Brandon to figure it out. This is like teaching a blind person to paint a landscape he cannot see. This entire travesty of a story is Jonathan’s fault. At no point is this Brandon’s fault for the terrible abuse at Jonathan’s hands. Yes, it was Brandon’s choice to stay. He is stubborn; perhaps a bit too stubborn for his own good.

The reason why Jonathan couldn’t connect and find a submissive for life, is because he has built no relationship on trust. To have trust, there must be communication. Now, D/s people in the lifestyle have different opinions on what makes a good D/s relationship. My personal perspective is, without open communication and trust, there will be no D/s relationship and there will be no TPE. This story demonstrates my perspective crystal clear. I hurt for Brandon. He is betrayed over and over again by Jonathan. Jonathan is not an evil or bad person. He is an inept Dom for training a vanilla man who isn’t sure about BDSM let alone being kinky.

Jonathan’s response to Brandon’s inability to conform to his submissive expectations is to beat Brandon more. The one time Jonathan offers open communication, he immediately punishes Brandon for his open honesty. How is this not a slap in the face and kicking the guy when he is down? How is this not abuse of power and a complete breach of trust? The line Jonathan crossed beyond any realm of acceptable Dom behaviour, is when he beat Brandon to a point that Brandon relived flashbacks of his abused childhood. That Jonathan was unable to apologize for this and felt he was still in the right; this caused me to lose all respect for him. Jonathan at this point is the monster vanilla people think all BDSM Doms to be. The vanilla folks would be right in this case. Jonathan did turn into a terrible monster whose tactics are no different than prison guards for prisoner of wars.

In Resistance, Jonathan’s worst flaws are exposed in high definition while Brandon is the collateral damage. Not only does Brandon have to break the deal due to his starved body and physical damaged, he is now out of a job. He took a leave of absence which meant he was immediately replaced. Jonathan cheated Brandon out of a livelihood in addition to adding to Brandon’s emotional trauma and physical deterioration. Jonathan left Brandon worse off after meeting him. What Jonathan did was reprehensible and completely vile. Jonathan deliberately set up Brandon to fail. One could argue Jonathan did it unconsciously. It does not matter. Jonathan is the experience Dom who wanted a green behind the years sub. It is Jonathan’s responsible to lead and guide. Brandon has no idea what questions to ask and no one to help him understand. The way Jonathan treated Brandon is similar to watching a two hundred pound man kicking a seven pound abandoned puppy with steel toed boots.

Despite my loathing of Jonathan, the BDSM scenes were pretty hot. They are accurate in many senses. It is sad that they were used in a negative way. The tools and lifestyle are not the issue. Jonathan and how he approached it was the issue. This story clearly shows, that not all Doms are perfect and even the ones who are so experienced can really fuck it up. Even after all this abuse, Brandon is the bigger and better man. Jonathan doesn’t deserve him. The ending of this story is a cliffhanger to the follow up book. I am eager to read the next book to see how this train wreck can be salvaged. This book is recommend for hardcore BDSM lovers who enjoy an emotional rollercoaster punctuated by physical trauma which will make even the hardest of hearts weep.
April 15, 2012
Normally, I hate books featuring millionaires/billionaires/gazillionaires who are dominants because usually the sub isn't and the book ends up reading more like 'Pretty Woman' with whips. In this case, we're talking a three-million dollar payout for six months of a man's life. It also says loud and clear that only the rich get to indulge in all the toys of the BDSM lifestyle. So much for us regular janes who are 'stuck' using clothespins and rope from The Home Depot, lol. Seriously, fancy dungeon descriptions bore me to tears because for some strange reason these fancy dungeons with all the latest and most expensive toys have become de rigueur in BDSM fiction to the point where I think I'm reading through the JT's Stockroom catalogue rather than a supposedly "hot" and edgy tale.

That's one reason why I'm of mixed feelings about this book. The other reason is while the S/M scenes were very intense, I never really felt enough of an emotional connection to either Brandon or Jonathan (though I think I understood Brandon a little more). I felt as if I were really on the outside looking in rather than inside of their minds and souls. I really liked them as characters, but it felt as if both were hiding their true selves from me as a reader. And I'm sorry, but Jonathan's 'research' on Brandon felt a little too close to stalking. Then again, being the only child of fabulously open parents (plus being given a real first name that is hippy to the core) probably means that Jonathan's idea of privacy and boundaries are a damn sight different from anyone else's.

And yes Virginia, I am so done with the abused sub trope. It has been way overused (abused to the point of ridiculousness) and personally I feel validates the vanilla belief that only mentally/physically messed-up people enjoy BDSM.

So why four stars? Well, because I get that this book is titled Power Play: Resistance and that it's the first part of a longer story. I get the "resistance" part and Brandon as mouthy sub drives even me, a former top, to distraction. On the other hand, this world is totally new to him and honestly, Jonathan as a supposedly knowledgeable dominant does a pretty crappy job explaining to his new and highly untrained sub just what is required of him. And yet, I just don't quite understand Brandon's willingness (the money notwithstanding) to submit to a man he barely knows. This is a man with serious trust issues stemming from parental abuse giving up control to a guy he blew in the back of a bar? True love/lust doth this not make.

What also makes me give this four stars is Jonathan. I really need to know more about him, his life and what got him into this world in the first place. He's out of his depth here and as time and patience wears on, he knows it. I like dominants who aren't all-seeing and perfect. I like when they question their motives and/or don't get things right. I liked the fact that while he understood all the mechanics--the panic button, the hanky, safewording--he'd finally come across a man who pushes all the wrong buttons, makes him actually feel something and even re-evaluate his beliefs. In short, Jonathan's that human dominant that so many stories in this vein tend to gloss over.

If there's one character who truly shines here, it's the unflappable housekeeper Sybrina. Even though she only shows up in a few scenes, this woman is quite memorable and hell, who needs either guy when she herself would make a damn good top?

In spite of feeling that I never really knew Brandon or Jonathan very well, there's something about these two that make me want to read about them again and I'm eagerly awaiting the next book. I'm hoping the next book fills in the blanks.
Profile Image for Absynthe.
432 reviews5 followers
May 3, 2012
I'm not really sure whether this is really hard core BDSM or torture porn. One of the things I keep tripping over is that Jonathon did an extensive background check on Brandon. He had seen Brandon's childhood medical records and was aware that he'd been beaten by his father when he was a child. He'd also had indications, very early on in his contract with Brandon that Brandon still had very serious issues surrounding his abuse at the hands of his father.

And yet, he thought it was a good idea to not just beat Brandon, but torture him. The whole stun gun thing is right out of Abu Ghraib. This entire book equates submission with pain. And, from what I know of BDSM, those two things are definitely NOT the same. Being submissive does not mean you're a pain slut.

At no point in this book did I get the feeling that Brandon was a pain slut.

So not only did Jonathon grossly misjudge Brandon's need for the painful part of BDSM, but he didn't seem to take into account Brandon's mental fragility in regards to the entire concept of getting the crap beaten out of him.

Jonathon's supposed to be an experienced Dom. I would think an experienced Dom would know the difference between submission and the need for heavy duty pain. An experienced Dom should also recognize when his needs for inflicting pain are not matched by his sub and when he's on the verge of giving his sub a complete mental breakdown.

To me, it felt like this book was an exercise in "how far can I push the whole BDSM angle and how shocking can I make this".
Profile Image for  Rosebud.
1,052 reviews196 followers
April 20, 2012
Every once in a while I read a book that pushes my soft limits to the very edge. That I don't want to turn another page to read but can't stop myself. This is one of those.
Wow. Intense. BDSM. M/M. Edgy. Take your pick. To me this was a hard core version of "fifty shades of grey" if there was one. There's sadism. There's gay love. There's BDSM slave. There's impact play. There's cage/wand/floggers and so much more that made me want to delete this book BUT I just couldn't stop. I HAD to know the ending. Brandon and Jonathan, the main characters, were written in such a way that you can't end reading this book without leaving with a strong opinion on them. Love or hate this book I can't stress how amazing it was for me.
Oh, and the next installment is due out in June, 2012.
Profile Image for JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust.
345 reviews575 followers
August 10, 2016
*****3.5 maybe 4 "TOYS R ROUGH" STARS****

"Give me six months, and I'll give you the world."
I'm a HUGE fan of Rachel's Haimowitz and her The Flesh Cartel, Season 1: Damnation series, and while Power Play: Resistance evoked several emotions, the majority of the time what I was feeling was ROYALLY PISSED OFF!

This story left me spent. I can't even decide how to rate it. This review is going to be brief as I need to stop thinking about Jonathan.

Self made billionaire Jonathan Watkins propositions blue color Brandon McKinney, give him six months to train Bran on being a submissive and Jonathan will give him the $3,000,000 needed to buy his current employers construction company.

I'm sorry but unless the title Dom stands for "Dickhead Of the Millennium" in my humble opinion Jonathan shouldn't label himself a Dom. I struggled believing he's even a sadist.. Let me explain..

sa·dist [sey-dist, sad-ist] a person who receives sexual gratification from causing pain and degradation to another.

so·cio·path [ˈsō-sē-ə-ˌpath, ˈsō-sh(ē-)ə-\] someone who behaves in a dangerous or violent way towards other people and does not feel guilty about such behavior

...if Jonathan's a sadist he should've been sporting a constant erection, knocking shit over left and right with his trouser snake because he was repeatedly torturing "training " Bran, but he wasn't. Instead he was conjuring EXTREMELY PAINFUL ways to punish Brans body rather than enjoying it.

Douche Monkey, I mean Jonathan spent the majority of the story feeling disrespected , frustrated and angry rather than remorseful for the fucked up shit he was doing to Bran. I felt Jonathan was a selfish brat suffering short man syndrome.

Now Brandon on the other hand I loved. He was strong willed, witty and WAY TOO FRIGGIN GOOD FOR MR. FUCKTARD! I spent the entire time either cheering him on or wishing I could give him a hug. I really enjoyed his character.
So did Jonathan persuade Brandon into accepting his submissive side? Is Brandon now the owner of his own construction company?

...... You know I can't tell you.

If you like getting Incredible Hulk style angry, this is the book for you ...MWAH!

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Profile Image for Vivian.
2,839 reviews386 followers
April 28, 2013
Want to smack them both upside the head.

Seriously?! You take a person who's never seen a pool and grapple them into the deep end--they can't swim and they almost drowned as a kid and you're surprised that they freak out and will claw you/them/anything to get out? Are you that monumentally stupid? That's pretty much the approach to 24/7 TPE relationship here.

But it gets even more spectacular WTFuckery--

Love the writing, but lost allegiance to either character due to ridiculousness. While Bran never should have signed up for something he didn't understand Jonathan should have known better, he's not a green Dom. They both screwed the pooch here though with the power relationship the weight of failure lies cleanly on Jonathan's shoulders--and the stupid decisions.

Favorite quote:
Beautiful faces got old fast, but beautiful minds . . . well, that was an entirely different story. A beautiful face to go with it was just icing on the cake.
Profile Image for Alex.
Author 28 books74 followers
February 23, 2012
Warning: Hardcore. While consent is clearly established and frequently reaffirmed, some moments push hard against the outer edges of consent.

So, um, wow. A hard-core BDSM novel that revolves around one man's desire to explore and expose another man's submissive and masochistic side. This isn't just another "OMG, I'm totally a sub!" story, as Bran and Jonathan struggle through a series of issues. Heavy and sometimes dark, this isn't for the light of heart, but for those who want to explore a more intense (physically and psychologically) level of BDSM, this would be something to check out.

Despite moments of extreme discomfort that I had with this book and its events, I continued on, needing to know what was going to happen and how things would work out. I was richly rewarded, and I hope you will be too!

I am affiliated with Riptide Publishing. I read this for work.
Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.
Profile Image for Ana_P .
101 reviews41 followers
May 2, 2014
★★★★★ 5 Not-for-the-Faint-of-♡ Stars ★★★★★

Holy shit, this book was intense...
and I just couldn't get enough!

Why did I love it so much?
Hard-core kink? ✓
Physically smaller Dom? ✓
One big, red-haired resistant sub? ✓
Had me gripping the edge of my seat the whole time? ✓

Bran is a down-on-his-luck construction worker who is going from bank to bank trying to scrounge up $3 million to buy his boss's design/architectural firm. He is an extremely intelligent man with a brilliant mind for architecture, but life has been beyond cruel to him (he was forced to live on the streets during his teens after being kicked out of his home), and it took all of his willpower to find legitimate jobs to support himself without having to turn to working the streets. One day, while at a bar near his Chinatown home, Bran meets a handsome stranger by the name of Jonathan. They start to talking and realize they have a lot in common due to both being really bright and having minds for business. They have a *ahem* very hot back-alley encounter and decide to meet again. After having dinner again and another very steamy scene in a bedroom this time, it is not hard for Bran to see Jonathan is filthy rich, a billionaire in fact. Jonathan, a Dominant and a hard-core Sadist (definitely with a capital S), is really attracted to Bran and sees a submissive side in Bran and knows that he has never explored this side of himself, due to being prideful and finding it hard to trust anybody. He offers Bran $3 million to be his live-in, 24/7 submissive for 6 months.

The guys do not get off to a great start, and this affects their interactions for the rest of the book. As soon as they start, Jonathan delves into training Bran to be the perfect submissive and how they can please each other, and being the sadist that he is, he loves to hand out punishments when Bran makes a mistake.
The first blow wasn't too bad, even though it landed with a loud smack. For a second, the sound of leather on bare skin tore Bran fifteen years into the past, but he clawed his way back; no way was he letting himself fall down that hole ever again.
While Bran does consent to everything he and Jonathan do, he struggles with punishment because of the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his father, and he just does not like pain but he puts up with it because he can endure it and does not want to back out of his contract that would cost him $3 million. However, Bran is a submissive, even though he is not a masochist, and he feels weak for wanting somebody else to take care of him. This, more than anything, makes him resistant to Jonathan.
He hurt me. Humiliated me. Used me. Treated me like a fucking whore.
Because you goaded him. Fought him every step of the way. Admit it--you liked him. You liked what he made you feel. You liked the way he made you think. You liked the way he opened your eyes.
It was very hard for Bran to accept that he had a submissive side in the first place.

Jonathan, on the other hand, is a far-from perfect MC. I could have throttled him for some of the things he did. First of all, he should have eased Bran into the lifestyle better instead of just starting off with punishments for infractions from the get-go. Jonathan likes total control over his submissives, such as feeding them with this hand or allowing them to speak only when permission is given. These, of course, are tall orders for someone as prideful as Bran. Add in the punishments, and Bran becomes the most resistant sub ever, leading to even more punishments, making Bran even more resentful of Jonathan. Eventually, they reached a point where the whole ordeal was beyond stressful for both of them . That being said, Jonathan is by no means a bad Dom. He loves pleasing his subs and taking care of them. It gives him great pleasure to give his subs theirs. And when he met Bran, he saw the workings of a terrific sub that just needed to be brought out. He truly thought he was helping Bran by making him realize his submissive tendencies.
"But you have to understand, being a Dominant...It's not about smugness. It's about steadiness. It's my job to understand you, inside and out. It's my job to know things, to be able to act on them with confidence. To be your anchor when you fly...And you've not permitted me to do any of that. You've not trusted me. Even thought I've never lied to you. Even thought I've never indulged my own desires ahead of yours, never beat you just for my own pleasure. Even though I've held you when you've cried..."

Both Bran and Jonathan made big goofs throughout the book that made this one a neverending tug-of-war between the two. Bran never allowed himself to accept that he is a submissive and add in what he thinks of as Jonathan's mindless sadistic tendencies, and you've got one very resistant sub. Jonathan, as a result, gets more and more frustrated with Bran's constant refusal to do anything without punishment, and they just wear each other out. It is not until that Bran admits to himself that he is a submissive and needs Jonathan to help him explore his submissive side, and Jonathan realizes that he made some very big mistakes in how he introduced Bran to the lifestyle. This book was definitely an emotional rollercoaster ride that left me feeling wrung out


and completely excited to see how Bran and Jonathan's relationship develops in the next book. On to book 2...
Profile Image for Lindz..
925 reviews118 followers
April 23, 2012

This review is going to be my new mountain to climb. Normally, when I read a book, I instantly write a review.

With this one, I couldn’t.

It was one of those books that does everything a book is supposed to do. Make you laugh, make you cry, make you pissed off, make you scream at the book!

I think the thing that was hardest about this book, was I didn’t really know who I needed to side with this most. In the long run, I needed to be on the side of both characters, because at the end of the day, they both made mistakes, big ones that could have ruined a fantastic relationship.

But, I’m jumping ahead. I’m going to start with what instantly drew my attention to this book when asked to review it.

A deal is struck.

I am a totally slut for books with sexual deals in them. My very first romance was a historical romance where the deal was he would help her, but he had to kiss her once a day anywhere on her body she wanted. Oh, yes, it was FANTASTIC! This book had all the makings of a fantastic set up. The characters were both very likable, as sarcastic as Bran was, you really liked him. You got so deep into his brain, and train of thought that you just got him. You know why he needed someone like Jonathan to show him guidance. Jonathan was not your average billionaire, well at times he was. I think he honestly lost sight of the person he used to be, with the person he was not, and never being told NO anymore. For me, if Jonathan was straight, I would BEG him to be my Master. (Don’t tell Sir, please!)

Jonathan was unyielding, handsome, Sadistic, and brutal in his punishments. I wanted him, I needed him, and I latched onto all his teachings while Bran stubbornly fought, even when his health was on the line. But, with as much as I understand what Jonathan was trying to do, he didn’t communicate the full reason for all that he was doing to Bran. Therein lays his flaw. He just expected someone totally ignorant of BDSM or S&m to just get what he was trying to teach him.

Meanwhile, the reader is on this powerful and emotional roller coaster that takes you places inside that you never thought that you had. This was my first full length M/m book, and I want more! I thought I would have trouble. I have had trouble with a few. I often see the typical cliché where the author makes one man The MAN! And the other is the ‘woman’ and is docile and whiny almost. This story had two MEN! Even in his moments of submission Bran was all masculine power as he took what Jonathan gave to him. It was beautiful, masterfully written, and I was Bran in those moments.

As much as I understood Jonathan, and was totally jealous of Bran, I did get Bran. He was thrust into a situation with no knowledge. He had no clue what a Total Power Exchange was. Hell, most BDSM authors that aren’t in the lifestyle don’t know what that means. They think just having a Master is a TPE lifestyle and it is NOT! So, this man, with no knowledge of BDSM, is made to kneel, be naked 24/7, eat from another man’s hand, and submit in all things and leave his care and pleasure totally up to someone else. Naturally, he felt the total opposite of cared for.

They had some horrible moments. Jonathan is a wonderful Sadist, so naturally his punishments were poetically brutal. Leaving Bran with even less of an understanding of what he was there for and what exactly Jonathan was trying to teach him. Which I got, I understood. I know what I was like fresh and new, and if that was my first dip into BDSM, I might not have been so trusting or willing later on. But, when Jonathan and Bran were good, oh they were SOOOOOOO good. *melts into a puddle of goo on the floor* It made my toes curl, my heart burst, and me begging Bran to get it. Alas, he just didn’t. The way he was raised just didn’t allow him that understanding, and Jonathan, in all his impressive Dominance when he asked Bran how he felt, and Bran gave him an honest answer that Jonathan didn’t like—well, I will let you all read and judge.

This story made me gush with excitement; it broke me down to a million tiny pieces, put me back together, wrapped me in a very warm pink blanket, and then made me cry till my whole face was retaining water.

Yes, it was that good! This is a recommended read for sure from me! I can’t WAIT till the next book, so till then I’m gonna indulge on some of the other books by these authors!
Profile Image for Trio.
2,898 reviews170 followers
October 23, 2016
4.5 stars

okay, I was waffling between 3 stars - 4 stars - 5 stars... it was really hard to grasp just how good this book really was, it took time and some reflection before I could even think to write this review.

Jonathan - hum, where to begin? I got such a weird vibe from him from the beginning, very un-Dom like, you know? Just the way he presented himself to Bran and his whole proposal - the first 2/3rds of the book I was like, "Bran, are you crazy? Why isn't he talking to you? Every time you safeword he doesn't take you seriously. If you aren't enjoying this at all and it is just a total battle of wills vs. $$$, then WTF? Is it really worth it?"

Then on the other hand I was scratching my head, and I'm saying to Bran, "obviously there are things here you are really enjoying and if you just give in and trust Jonathan a little bit then maybe you can let go and see where he's going with all this."

So they end up confronting each other over the massive miscommunication... (and I'm sure I don't need to put a spoiler tag here) but I've already downloaded Power Play: Awakening so I can find out how it all works out.

It was just such a strange combination of things that work and things that don't, and the power exchange of it all. This is one of my favorite themes - the unwilling, captive sub, etc - but the idea that Bran is doing it for money, and the battle of wills, and his father's demon, just plays so much into how it all works out. Plus Jonathan's sadist side where he gives Bran a safeword but ignores him when he uses it. Like he did all this research on Bran and sees the magnificent possibilities in him so he is willing to put the time in... aaargh! That drove me a little crazy.

But there is a method to this author's madness and in the end it all starts to make sense. Why everything happens the way it does and how each character is growing, changing, evolving. Jonthan sees his errors and Bran sees his missed possibilities and it isn't just about a battle of wills (or the $$$, though that is clearly still between them).

Seriously, can't wait to read the next one. Twisted up in the most unconventional and unpredictable ways - really great read and beautifully written.

Profile Image for Danny Tyran.
Author 21 books182 followers
November 7, 2012
Great BDSM book!
Brandon has had a hard life and has made something of himself all on his own. He keeps to himself, works hard and tries to work on his dream. So when the opportunity to make that dream come true arose, he went full out to get it. Did he think it through enough? Did he fully know what he was getting into? These are some of the questions that have been coming up in review sites. But for me, it doesn't matter. He knew what he wanted. He went after it no matter the cost. Was it fair? Consensual? Abuse? Torture? The answers vary from reader to reader. For me it was what it was. Brandon was not misinformed. He had the opportunity to educate himself, ask questions and set limits. He consented. Be it in the form of a signed contract or just by not using his safe word or walking out. For me it was not abuse nor torture. Yes, the scenes were hardcore. He was beaten and humiliated and a whole other set of things. But he was given the choice. And he kept making the wrong one.

"Learning to trust someone like that, so deeply, so completely. Learning to move past your strongest barriers, face your deepest fears...It would change your life, Brandon. And not just because of the money waiting for you at the end."

As for Jonathan, I think that he suffered also. A self-confessed sadist who tried at every turn to get Brandon to submit to him, Jonathan's part in this journey was very complicated. He has been painted as an abuser by some, unrecognized as a Dom by most. But was he? I don't know if he was a Master or not. It's not my place to say. But he was not an abuser. He was very clear on what he wanted from Brandon - total submission. He saw something in him that he felt he could enhance and bring to the surface. Was he mistaken? Most likely. I don't see Brandon as a submissive person. Just like I don't see Jonathan as an abuser. Yes he took great pleasure in inflicting pain, but he was very tender and very caring to Brandon, when Brandon pleased him. He also questioned himself and wanted Brandon to experience the best of the lifestyle. He wanted him to let go, to trust, to open himself to a new world and just LET GO.

"It's all right to let go, Brandon. It's all right to want. You don't have to be on guard all the time."

In all honesty, I cried and laughed throughout the book. Yes, laughed. Brandon knew what he had to do yet he kept being stubborn and doing his best to test Jonathan. Did he suffer? Heck yeah, he did. But he could have avoided it. Was it painful reading what he went through? Of course it was. I DO have a heart. I cried with him, I laughed at his outbursts and his inner rants and in the end I was yelling for him to safeword, to get out of Dodge. To claim his dues and get on with his life if he could. But he was so proud. So unwilling to let go of that hard won pride, the one he had to build for himself alone in the world at such a young age, he held onto it, time and time again. And that pride was what brought in the shame - in himself, his desires, his needs. For me, it was the shame, along with his pride that made it all so hard and painful.

" Shame has no place in these walls. This, here, now? Is all about your pleasure. Embrace it. Let it wash over you. Be strong enough to be helpless to it, to succumb to it, to revel in it."

The authors, Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant, outdid themselves. I thought the writing was excellent. Every scene carefully thought out, every word deliberately placed, every emotion described for its utmost impact. The characters were complex and exactly what the story demanded. The reactions, the outbursts, the submission, the sex and the dialog worked seamlessly together to bring this story of need and want and pain and hurt to the page.

It left me reeling, apprehensive, anticipating - it made me want more. Yes, I wanted more. I wanted them to get through this, stay together in this journey of self-discovery and acceptance. I wanted them to connect, to find what they both were looking for and to find it with each other. Am I willing to continue to see Brandon being beaten and broken down? In a heartbeat. Because when he went there, when he first let go and accepted it, albeit for the wrong reasons, it was beautiful. Can you imagine how it could be if Brandon truly let go? If he gave himself to the unknown and trust Jonathan to catch him and guide him through it? I think it would be an amazing read. So with that being said, I bid you farewell and happy reading. I'll already be immersed in book 2 as you are reading this.

"Submission is strength. Willpower. Iron control. It's trust, and relaxation, and rest, and pleasure."
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