In Sykes’ (Stealing Beauty, 2019, etc.) erotic romance, a writer becomes entangled with an FBI agent and his BDSM lifestyle.
Journalist Chloe Martin leaves her four-year marriage after her controlling husband, Neil Hollins, rapes her. Three years later, she’s in New York City, shadowing FBI agent Sharon Silverman for a story on the Latin Kings gang. However, when her friend Carina, an investigative journalist, invites her to local BDSM club Decadence, she accepts. Although she doesn’t regularly partake in that lifestyle, she knows enough about it to maintain a second career as an author of BDSM romances. Apparently, many New York City–based feds are into BDSM, and one, Agent Dexter Scott, shows Chloe around the club. The two play out a scene—for “research”—in which she submits to Dex, who’s a dom. Dex’s boss later assigns him to escort Chloe as she pursues her Latin Kings story. The fed and the writer initially butt heads because the assertive Chloe isn’t at all submissive outside the club. But they’re eventually drawn to each other, and Dex brings Chloe into BDSM with his “subtle dominance.” Chloe’s been celibate ever since Neil’s assault, and she doesn’t desire the intimacy of sex aside from oral pleasure. Dex will have to earn her trust if they hope to sustain their relationship. This book is part of a series, and many of its characters have appeared in Sykes’ earlier tales. However, the author’s concise descriptions of her characters and their backstories make it work well as a briskly paced stand-alone. Sykes alternates sensual, edifying BDSM scenes with others of Dex and Chloe connecting in other ways, such as binge-watching episodes of the TV show Supernatural. The two face numerous hurdles, such as the arrival of Neil, who tracks down his ex-wife, and Dex’s struggle to get over a previous dom-sub relationship. As a result, Chloe’s journalistic endeavors only occasionally crop up in the story, often leading to scenes of brawny Dex protecting her from gangsters. But the main romance plot is thoroughly engaging, and Sykes respectfully and enticingly highlights a lifestyle with which some readers may not be familiar.
An absorbing and alluring love story.