Reviewed for KinkyBookReviews
This is the 3rd Claire Thompson that I’ve read and the one I enjoyed the most so far. Ashley Kendall is the pseudonym for Kate Alexander, a popular romantic novelist, and she’s embarking on some background research for her latest work – featuring BDSM. She’s had a tiny taste of this in a previous relationship that ended badly and has always been curious about it, so she books onto a ‘BDSM Immersion Weekend’.
It was her secret adventure. She could reinvent herself, just for this one weekend. After all, it was Ashley Kendall who was attending. Kate Alexander could remain safely hidden, watching from the sidelines, taking notes.
She shares a motel room with Stacey, an outgoing and experienced girl on this scene who promises to take her under her wing, and make sure that ‘Ashley’ has a good time. Things do not go to plan, however. Master John Brighton, one of the most experienced Doms, takes an instant interest in her. He tries to persuade her to attend his seminar on whipping techniques – and maybe participate in a scene with him.
She felt his hand on her shoulder, gently but forcibly turning her back towards him. “Ashley,” he said, reading her tag. Looking back at her face, his smile was warm enough to melt butter. “I bet you’re a wild one, in serious need of taming.”
She has doubts about taking part, but assured that the scene will stop if she utters her safe word, she allows him to cane her. When his sadistic nature becomes apparent – and he brutally ignores her safe word – it takes another of the resident Doms, Chase Saunders, to intervene and rescue her. She’d liked Chase earlier and enjoyed his seminar on rope play, but for him to see her messed up and traumatized is too much to cope with. Especially when he’d warned her to think carefully about taking part. She packs her bags and flees for home.
He reached for her arm, thinking how he’d fantasized so much over the last two days about being alone with her, but not like this. Not cleaning up the terrible mess another man had made.
She shrugged his hand away, shaking her head violently. “No,” she said, her voice wavering. She took a breath and said with more force. “Leave me alone. Just leave me be. I can take care of myself. I don’t want you or him.” She shot a venomous look in Brighton’s direction that would have made Chase whoop in triumph if she weren’t also rejecting him in the process.
Chase is desperate to make sure she’s okay and tracks down her email address through her website, finally making contact with her. They talk. Meet for lunch. Get to know each other. Chase encourages her to continue exploring the world of BDSM. With him. She plucks up the courage to visit him and after a sensual and mind blowing introduction to bondage, they make love. This should be the start of a wonderful romance… only Chase – at the height of passion – calls her by another woman’s name.
She should just let his gaffe pass, keep quiet, pretend she hadn’t noticed. Instead, she found herself asking, “What just happened?”
Chase turned his head slowly towards her, his eyes dark and filled with grief. “I’m so sorry, Kate.”
Chase has a dark secret of his own and one that threatens the basis of their fledgling relationship.
It was that expression of pity that pushed him the rest of the way down. In the space of a few minutes, Kate had gone from eager, adoring new lover to just another person who felt sorry for poor Chase. He could hardly bear the transformation.
I think what made this Claire Thompson stand out, for me, was that I felt engaged with the characters. This was a romance novel – erotic and sexy – but at its heart was a love story of two lonely individuals learning to trust each other and finding love. This was a great read. Angsty and emotional, it tugged on my heartstrings and pleased me with its conclusion.