My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Accompanying a friend to a woman’s self-defense class, Amery Hardwick meets the dojo’s owner, sexy and domineering Ronin Black. As the sparks between the two develop into a smoldering desire and then a passionate affair, Amery becomes addicted to the pleasure of losing herself in Ronin’s sensuality. However, Ronin’s secrets and his inability to open up and fully share himself with Amery rapidly begins to fray the fragile bonds that tie them together. Will their romance survive the challenges that they face?
To be fair, BDSM is not my usual reading fare, however, some of my GR friends are fans of Lorelei James and I am giving her writing a try. After my initial foray with Saddled and Spurred met with limited success, I had hoped that this one would fair better. Unfortunately, this has not turned out to be the case as the book ends on a cliffhanger just as it is getting interesting.
To begin with, the BDSM elements are actually quite original as they focus on the Japanese style of bondage known as Kinbaku, which has an interesting history and is even considered an art form. That said, the numerous sex scenes involving scarves and ropes and blindfolds ultimately begin to lose their impact as they are repetitive and almost mechanical rather than intimate and sensual.
The romance has potential, but is marred by the heroine’s insecurities and repetitive angst as well as the hero’s aloof reserve. Much of this is exacerbated by the fact that the story is presented primarily via Amery’s point of view and the reader is seldom privy to Ronin’s thoughts and feelings.
Another problem is with the characters – none of whom are particularly likable. Amery starts out as a smart, sassy and spirited woman, but turns into a submissive doormat the moment Ronin turns his sexy smile on her. What happened to her snarky comebacks?
Ronin runs hot and cold. One minute he is a tender and patient lover eager to introduce Amery to his world, and the next he is a controlling sensei determined to keep her in her place both physically and emotionally. This is NOT a turn on!
The secondary characters in the form of Amery’s obnoxious and selfish friends, and Ronin’s judgmental colleagues are not appealing in any shape or form.
All in all, I’m beginning to realize that Lorelei James simply isn’t for me and the fact that the story ends so abruptly just as Ronin and Amery are beginning to show some real emotion only emphasizes my problem with her writing. With fewer unnecessary sex scenes, better character development and cohesive plotting, this story could have been wrapped up in one book. Instead, I am left with the bitter feeling that everything was drawn out so that James could continue with a superfluous sequel to increase profits.