Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.
I feel like, at this point, I've read enough erotica that I have a pretty decent idea of what I like and what I don't like; what works and what doesn't work. I think that, overall, this book doesn't work and I have to say that although it was ok, I didn't particularly care for it.
First, the heroine, Maddy Stone. I tried so hard to like her. In some places, I actually DID like her. But after reading it and thinking about it, I have to say that it was really hard to connect with her. She has this secret trauma in her recent past that has her crippled with guilt. The author drops a clue here and there but we don't really find out the full story until almost the end of the book. I have absolutely no problem with that when its warranted. But Maddy's secret was (I hate to be this harsh) really stupid. It didn't seem like it was much of a secret and I can understand why she would feel guilty but I never understood why she was SO guilty over a year later. And then, why would her guilt make her unable to switch gas stations? Or require her to make up a list of things that will get her out of her comfort zone? Or why playing a hand of blackjack is so important OR why its so difficult for her to do!?!?!? I could go on and on with my questions since my confusion about what Maddy's problem was never really ended. On the other side, Maddy was a really kind person and didn't mind working hard for what she wanted. But I really can't think of anything else that I liked about her.
Then, there's our hero, Alex Frasier. As much as Alex was hot and sexy and rich, it seemed like the author went down a list of attributes that every BDSM novel is required to have. Billionaire? Check. Owns a huge business and looking to get another? Check. Ridiculous hobby? Check. Subtly dangerous henchman? Check. Never "usually" dates? Check. Inexplicably wants to immediately be exclusive with the heroine? Check. Has a big secret? Check. I mean, come on people!! Can we PLEASE let 50 Shades of Gray go?? PLEASE!? I've seen enough reincarnations of it that I'm about to choke on it! Oh Alex can't help but love Maddy's innocence. Huh? An experienced Dom that wants to take someone who has absolutely NO knowledge of the BDSM scene and train her? Sure, right. Like Maddy's "secret", Alex's secret wasn't a big deal and doesn't seem like it would be that much of a secret. I liked Alex marginally more than I liked Maddy. I do enjoy reading rich guys who want to lavish their women with gifts and fun, surprise trips and all that. Its not so much about the money for me though. Its more about the thoughtfulness, I guess. I liked that Alex seemed to innately know what Maddy needed/wanted even when Maddy didn't know what she needed/wanted. I don't know why I like things like that but it was pretty much my favorite part of the book.
Together, Alex and Maddy were so-so. When you don't love the characters individually, its hard to love them together. I think that Alex and Maddy will be good for each other though. I thought that Maddy resisted Alex and what he's offering for way too long. It wasn't realistic and it really frustrated me.
Overall, I would only suggest this book to people who are maybe new to BDSM since there isn't much sex and what there is, is a little on the vanilla side. I think most people might find Maddy irritating at best and stupid or ungrateful at worst. There was really no conflict, since their "secrets" were extremely lame. The only thing that they had to overcome was Maddy's ignorance and steadfast refusal to look at herself in an honest way. I don't think I can recommend this book to anyone since to me, this is a poor example of a 50 Shades knockoff. There are plenty out there and this isn't the best.