This book blew me away. Full disclosure, I didn't read the blurb. In fact, I didn't know what the book was about because all I saw was Ms. Burkhart's name and greedily grabbed the book. At the time of reading this book, there was no cover either so I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Sometimes, the best books are when a reader goes in with few preconceived notions. This could be a story of a woman who is so broken no one will want her. This could be a story of a man so tainted with the blood running through his veins that he's no good for any woman. What I see is an intensely edgy erotic courtship between two balancing forces.
A fan of suspense, this story contains a surprisingly sneaky suspense subplot. It isn't until about halfway through the book it becomes apparent there is more to this story than a woman who is rebuilding her life after a bad relationship break up. Ranay Killian is a masochist who hungers for the elusive high brought on through complete surrender. For those who don't understand the lifestyle, this may be a difficult read. It's not that Ranay is a doormat or wants to be beaten to death or abused. It's the sensations and headspace she goes into when she gives up total control and experiences pain to drive her mind back into her body. Doesn't make sense? Let's put it this way. Sometimes, there are people who cannot stop thinking. Their brain is going too fast all the time and they can not shut it off. Based on the descriptions in the book, when Ranay is going through an intense scene, her brain stops analyzing and she can focus on just one thing. This one thing is how her body feels at this moment in time. As a person whose mind does not shut off even when sleeping, this is an amazing gift I've only experienced through edge play or scuba diving. Neither are easy to come by for me. For Ranay, it seems Charlie MacNiall possesses the magic touch.
The characters are fabulous in this story. What I like about Charlie is his average height and his quiet demeanor. He is not someone would suspect as a threat until it is too late. The way Ms. Burkhart creates this character is dangerously attractive for me. First, he is probably blurring the line between sociopath and psychopath. Second, he plans several steps ahead. Third, he is wicked intelligent. Fourth, he erotically sadistic. He doesn't need fancy furniture or expensive sex toys to make an impact. He takes rough body play to the next level. If he incorporated breath play, I'd be in a melted puddle of goo. His ability to change from sweetly suppressed power to scary fury unleashed is panty wetting.
Ranay starts out as a bit pathetic. As she interacts more with Charlie, she begins to grow. She blooms under his care, even when he's biting and drawing blood. The story is told from her point of view and even if I'm not able to understand her for the most part, I can appreciate her response to Charlie. By the end of the story, it is clear there is an excellent balancing dynamic between the two lovers.
Getting to the good part, the BDSM. There is rough body play with pressure points. There are little bits of pet play through being hand fed. The edging and orgasm control is delicious. The biting which at times drew blood is tastefully dark. What really pushes me over the edge is the knifeplay. Oh boy can Ms. Burkhart write a knifeplay scene. It is so good and it conjures happy memories of heart beating fear with heightened arousal. The controlled violence and sexual menace Charlie exudes is a perfect match for Ranay's deep desires. For those who enjoy this kind of kink, these two intensely dark erotic scenes are blazing hot. It's vivid to the mind and to the senses. For those who enjoy knifeplay, it is very easy to slip into Ranay's role whilst she is being sliced. For those who enjoy wielding the knife, the heady power Charlie holds in his hands is euphoric. For those wondering if these scenes are realistic, I can confirm they are realistic down to the whimpers which may be of fear, pleasure or a mix of both.
This book is much more than the BDSM. The story is very well written and the world building is great. The dialog between the characters is so smooth it is almost as if the reader is there in person watching the conversation. Ms. Burkhart's writing voice is enhancing and captivating. I finished this book in one sitting. Truth be told, I enjoy all of Ms. Burkhart's books. This one connects for me the most because of the dominant and his particular desires. I loved this book. I highly recommend this to kinky readers who want to read a wonderfully romantic suspense perfectly paired with realistic edge play.*provided by NetGalley