Kristin's Reviews > Under By Vengeance

Under By Vengeance by Kayla Stonor
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really liked it
bookshelves: e-rom, arc, romance

I received this as a review copy from the author as a newly reworked and released book, and while I will always accept and read something offered as a review copy by the author, I was unsure at first if I was going to be able to enjoy it. Let me be clear, while I had initial doubts, just because of the subgenre, and the authors own thoughts (revealed in an email, not to me personally... I'm not that cool) that it was "too dark"....... I really enjoyed this book.

For the sake of honesty, I usually really dislike BDSM fiction, because it's often not written in a way that conforms to the "safe, sane, consensual" mantra. This book is very upfront about the fact that it's a forced submission storyline, so I was prepared for the lack of complete consent. Did it follow every single thing someone who is involved in the lifestyle would have expected in reality? No, probably not. I tend to take fiction with a grain of salt on that. It's fiction, afterall, not a manual on how to engage in a relationship with those themes.

Now that all of THAT is out of the way... let's get into what the book WAS about, and what I liked (and didn't like) about it.

Pro: It has a plot. I have no issue with books who's purpose is more akin to outright porn, but me, personally - I love a plot. (view spoiler) It seems complicated laid out like that, but it's a fast paced story with a lot of psychological intrigue. I'm doubtful it would happen in real life, but as far as fiction goes, it's a solid plot that remains interesting throughout.

Pro: It's not a thinly veiled excuse for consecutive sex scenes. No shame if that's what you want, I've read plenty of books like that and even liked some of them, but I much prefer this method. Was there sex? Yes. At times was it graphic? Yes. The difference here is that it was all in line with the story, and not "just because". The places where it occurred added to the story and weren't just filler to keep the readers interested - the story itself was plenty interesting enough once it got into it's stride (and that didn't take too long).

Pro: Good Characters. I have a thing for compelling characters. Jenna was not a natural Domme. She got into it, from what I understood from the beginning of this book (I haven't read the preceding two) for her job, as a cover and a way of vetting clubs as clean of illegal activities. If you're looking for a super hard ass Domme story, this might have enough of that for you, but probably not, that's really not the focus. There's a scene I really appreciated, near the beginning, where Jenna is discussing (and agonizing) with an agency psychologist over how uncomfortable she is with the whole mission, and how it violates the safe, sane, consensual tenants of BDSM that she's learned in her previous undercover work. (view spoiler) Ryan is a chest thumping Alpha male... (view spoiler)

So, I really do mostly have pro's for this one. Any cons I mentioned in relation to those pros above, so I don't feel like they need to be re-hashed. The story focuses mostly on the psychological torture and "brainwashing" techniques used to essentially turn a hostage into a loyal partner. There is some physical torture, and at least two scenes of rape as well, so if these are triggers for you, you're going to want to keep clear of this book.

The email I got saying that the book was available for review copies had the author talking about her uncertainty about it, and how much darker it was than her others... possibly too dark. I have to disagree. Yes, it was dark, and parts of it were definitely difficult or uncomfortable to read, but it wasn't over the top. It wasn't torture and abuse for the sake of being shocking or avant garde, but rather in the course of the telling of a story that couldn't be as viscerally told without them. I think she did a great job of it, honestly, and will in all likelihood seek out more books by her in the future.
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Reading Progress

April 5, 2016 – Started Reading
April 6, 2016 – Shelved
April 6, 2016 – Finished Reading

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