A bookstore owner with dominant tendencies meets a customer who clearly needs a firm hand, and so he decides to help her explore her submissive side despite his own emotional limitations.
From the moment Claire walks into his bookstore, Evan is aware of her, a state of affairs that does not sit well with him, since he feels it’s a betrayal to the memory of his wife, Marianne, who died of cancer two years ago. Evan and Marianne had been soul mates, perfect for each other in every way, including their dom/sub sexual relationship. So meeting Claire, and realizing she is subconsciously begging for a dom, isn’t a welcome realization. Nor is the raging attraction he feels for her and the overwhelming desire to have her as his sub. However, imagining her with any other man, especially a potentially destructive dom who would hurt her, fills him with dread and, to his shame, jealousy. For her part, Claire tells herself that the sexy store owner—who is delightful to everyone but her—is an arrogant jerk and not worth her time, but for some reason, the erotic daydreams she has regarding her emerging sub tendencies always seem to star the enigmatic bookseller. She has a few sexual and emotional hang-ups of her own, and despite the caution her brain urges her to maintain, her emotions don’t want to listen. When Evan approaches her with a tantalizing proposition to help her discover her true sexual nature, she jumps at the chance, not realizing that his physical dominance and generosity will lead to a different kind of challenge—one that risks her vulnerable heart. Sallinger brings potent storytelling and characterization to the erotic romance table, offering an actual BDSM novel (as opposed to the BDSM-lite of the Fifty Shades series) with emotional depth and a sweeping romantic sensibility. A few character annoyances—Evan’s self-flagellation over his “betrayal” gets a little old, given his general emotional wisdom; Clare’s transformation seems a little uneven—don’t ultimately sabotage a strong, compelling effort.
An emotionally satisfying tale for the BDSM romance crowd.