Advanced Reading Copy
Published: October 15, 2013, KT Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 ⭐️
Writer of children's books and daughter of a publishing mogul, Erika Walsh has always been a bit of a homebody. Uncomfortable in large crowds and prone to panic attacks she has lead a fairly sheltered life surrounded by a small number of friends. Including Christopher Milton, her father's successor and brother of her longtime friend Kim. Erika has always had a bit of a crush on Chris, but that seems to evaporate when she meets Max at the night of an industry event.
M. L. Crawford, or Max, is a rival in the publishing industry, one who is ruthless in the way he does business. He is somewhat of an enigma and prefers to stay out of the public view, preferrably at his secondary business interest, The Gate. A club where others like Max can come to live out their alternate and deviant sexual preferences. Max is instantly taken with Erika and spends some time with her at the publishing event, until they are interrupted by Chris. He seems to have some history with Christopher, the two men can't see eye to eye.
For all her innocence and inexperience, Erika responds to Max's sexual suggestiveness and prompting with a hunger and passion that is new to her. Max realizes he needs to be careful to ease her into the darkest of his desires, but he is determined to have her ultimately submit to him completely. Erika takes everything he dishes out like a fish to water, and opens herself up without question. Max is convinced he has found his match.
Determined to keep Erika away from Max, Chris attempts to convince her of Max's nefarious intent and his dark secrets, all the while trying to keep Erika for himself. Erika is torn between the comfort of familiar ground, and the passionate high of forbidden pleasures at the Gate.
An interesting first instalment for what I presume to be a trilogy. People, this is what they call a 'cliff-hanger", be prepared to be left dangling!!! I know there are some of you who prefer to wait until all in a series are available before you start reading......well, this is your warning.
Erika is a bit of a mouse, a daddy's girl, who stays at home, doesn't go out much, doesn't socialize much and it surprised me therefore, that when she starts talking to Max, she actually had quite the ability for banter. Something that is not necessarily easy to do when you are not socially exposed all that much, especially when faced with someone you are instantly attracted to.
For someone presumed to be an 'innocent' of sorts she responds quite enthusiastically to whatever Max exposes her to. I had a bit of trouble buying into that. I found the jump from two mediocre lovers at 29 years old, to pretty intense BDSM submission within one or two sexual encounters, a bit of a steep jump.
When Erika's stable home life suddenly crumbles, and she no longer has her solid base to guide her, she feels adrift and finally decides to step back and reassess what she wants for herself, instead of getting swept up iin the wishes and wants of one or the other strong male figure.......now that is something I can stand behind!!
Chris is a creep, I'm sorry. For years he doesn't pay much attention, even ties himself to someone else and then when he gets burned, he turns to nice, available Erika. When he finds her suddenly not there, he gets territorial and wants to stake a claim. Yeah.....nice. Not for me, if you have a real interest in a woman, you don't wait around until someone else moves in and then start pissing around the hydrant, give me a break!! Not liking this guy at all! Plus he goes where he is not wanted, and then prides himself on a physical response he gets? Some physical responses cannot be helped, they are a reaction of a central nervous system in action. Ugh.
Max I like, because he seems to be the one character I can get a bit of a read on in this story. His feelings are clearest to me, even though his context is not quite there, his needs and wants are. He also seems to be the most honest and straightforward, although he may not have been immediately forthcoming with all information, he never denied or avoided anything when asked. We get most of a sense of him through his interactions with his business partner, who herself is a bit of a mess, if I may say so. Probably enough so to provide material for another book! But I digress. My issue with Max is his focus on sex, as if the only criteria he looks at Erika with is wanting her beneath him and submitting to him.......nothing else. No mention of what he can do for her, and that disturbs me a bit.
I found the book to be well-written from a technical stand point, but was missing some depth in the characters. Perhaps it was me, not connecting with them, but I never quite engaged in the story. It didn't help that it was a cliff hanger.......not my favorite, especially for reviewing.
Some of the BDSM described is fairly hardcore, more S&M than dominance and submission, and involves some cutting. Not really my scene, but that's personal preference. In terms of coupling, you will see a little of everything here, the same with fetishes, there is a lot going on.
There is a good story underneath, one that I would have loved to see fleshed out a bit more.
✨A dark and deviant tale of innocence lost.✨
**ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the author in return for an honest review.**