Tara's Reviews > A Strong Hand

A Strong Hand by Catt Ford
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's review
Sep 01, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: m-m, qgbc, read-in-2011, bdsm, bought-based-solely-on-the-cover, gfy-ofy, romance-contemporary
Read from September 12 to 15, 2011


This book is probably more of a 2-2 1/2 star read for me, but I bumped it because I do love the cover, which was what first drew me to the book. Nick is the assistant to a photographer, Damien. Damien's friend Ashley runs a company that sells kink- everything from whips to leather pants. Ashley has asked Damien to shoot his catalogue, but Ashley also wants to play matchmaker plus he might have a thing for his assistant, Derek, who used to be Damien's assistant. Damien and Ashley are both into the scene and are both tops. Derek is scared off by the whole thing. Nick is straight and not into any of it, except that he is. There is VERY lite bdsm.

There are a lot of characters that I thought might be more important to the plot than they actually are, because they get POV time. And the whole idea of shooting this catalogue was such a huge plot device that to me, it seemed silly. Like an excuse to have hot men half naked and chained and expose our young protagonist to this lifestyle without really exposing him to it.

The good...
The cover! Ha! But seriously, the characters were sweet. Their relationship was sweet, except when they were being silly. Most of the conflict in this book is because they didn't talk to each other. A few words from either one, instead of ignoring things and the misunderstanding could have easily been cleared up. If there had just been more (more build, more character development, just more) this book could have been a 5 star read.

The bad...
Nick at the start of the book is a surly straight assistant to this photographer. 50 pages in, he's a sub, to a gay man, who he's having a lot of sex with. What? If either of those things had been previously established, jumping to the other one might not have seemed like such a big deal, but as it is, he realizes he is gay and a submissive in one swoop. Well, except that he's not really into it, the sub thing. He likes some spanking and such, but collars and leashes and public displays are not his thing. I guess this is more like gay sub for you lite, because I don't get the sense that Nick would do this with anyone else. I wish there was some more exploration on Nick's part about his sudden shift. I wish there was some build to the relationship between the two as well. I just never felt the connection to them and it made the book hard to get in to.

Also after a while every scene between Nick & Damien was the same. Either they were having sex, Nick was getting spanked, or they were both doubting themselves, each other and their relationship and ignoring each other. There wasn't a lot or variance and a fair amount could have been trimmed and replace with some more character development. Plus, the ending was abrupt. Like because the story didn't really build, the HEA was sort of out of nowhere. They spent a lot of the book being wishy-washy about most things, then suddenly it was all tied up in a neat little bow.

The ugly...
Well, the ugly is a two shot combo of the language and the POV head hopping in this book. Let me explain. The prologue is mostly from Ashley's POV. Then we are in the book and the POV shifts, often within a paragraph from Nick, to Damien, to Ashley to Derek, to a random model named Markie... just all over the place. This type of writing I find very hard to follow. Then there were the wtf moments. You see Nick seems to be the only Brit speaking Brit and really it's only the words "flat" "tube" and "arse" and every time he said one of them it threw me. The book is set in London, if not London exactly, then some outskirt of it. Yet there is nothing that says England in the writing. No "colour", no "kerb", no phrase that I had to go look up because it's a saying I'm not familiar with. Nick is the only one that took the "tube" home to his "flat". He was the only one with an "arse." It was weird. If no one had used any of this it would have been fine, but I mentally stumbled every time he said "arse," and in this book that was a lot.

The conclusion...
So at the end of the day, this book had a lot of potential. It could have explored Nick realizing he may be gay. It could have explored Nick realizing that he may be into a little lite bondage and an occasional spanking. It could have explored why it was exactly that Damien had been alone, celibate and not participating in the scene for over five years. It could have showed Ashley and Damien's friendship. How Derek had ended up as as Ashley's assistant. Or why any of these people were attracted to the ones they were attracted to beside that they were pretty. It could have built to a HEA, but instead it jumped there.

Another good blurb, where the book just didn't deliver.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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MsMiz (Tina) One of my all time favorite covers.

Tara Great Cover. I'm not quite getting in to the book. I have as a matter of fact been unconsciously avoiding it for the better part of 2 days. I'm just not getting in to these guys.

MsMiz (Tina) I am not sure if I read it today I would give it the stars I did. I read this along time ago! But honestly, the cover is worth 5 stars!

message 4: by Mel (new) - added it

Mel Loved the review Tara. So but basically it's smut, disguised as contemporary romance with BDSM elements? I think I'll put it on my not to read shelf, don't need anymore Evangeline Anderson-esque writing.
I LOLed at the "I mentally stumbled everytime he said 'arse' and that's quite a lot in this book"- bit :)

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I remember liking this one somewhere like a 3.5. But I'm with Tina. It was a long time ago and the cover rocks!

message 6: by Mel (new) - added it

Mel You shallow girls! ;)

Tara It's different than Evangeline Anderson, in so much as he wasn't somehow manipulated into having sex by the bad guy who might also want to film it- which from all the stories by her I've read seems to be a common thread. At least in this story, Nick and Damien were both very willing participants in the sex. And the bdsm wasn't a manipulated situation where they were doing it to save the other's life. It was more introducing BDSM into the story at all was manipulated from the beginning by needing to shoot this catalogue. And there were just so many unanswered questions about our characters.

This is more like if tomorrow you woke up and decided to take hot yoga. We would all wonder, why? Have you always been curious about taking yoga? Or is it the whole idea of a yoga in a hot room? Or is there something about that specific yoga class? That's what I never figured out in this book. Was Nick ever drawn to being submissive? Was he even ever curious about it? Or is it the whole idea that it is a man telling him what to do? Or is it only Damien?

And that yoga class your taking? The instruction hasn't taught a class in 5 years. Why not? Did he have some sort of yoga tragedy? Did he get tired of people coming in hung over and getting sick during hot yoga? Is he upset because someone decided that while they enjoyed yoga, they preferred regular yoga? Or maybe they liked hot yoga, just not with him as an instructor... Damien showed an extreme lack of confidence for a Dom and it is never explained. HE is only skittish because Nick is young? Or because he's never been with a man? Or is it because Damien himself has had a lot of bad experiences. And are the bad experiences because someone left him, or left the lifestyle.

They were such lite participants in the BDSM that I wasn't sure where their issues were coming from. And really Nick, a guy who a week ago was straight,and is still worried about being considered gay. giving his first blow job so willingly...?

Yeah, it's a different type of smut than Evangeline, but you still would hate it Mel.

Nichole (DirrtyH) Kate Mc. wrote: "I remember liking this one somewhere like a 3.5. But I'm with Tina. It was a long time ago and the cover rocks!"

I kinda want to lick it...

This has been on my to-read shelf forever but this review doesn't make me want to read it very bad. I really don't hate anything more than I hate poorly executed head-hopping POV.

message 9: by Mel (new) - added it

Mel Thanks Tara, it definitely stays on my not to read shelf :)

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