Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.
When Berkley sent out an email about this book, my attention was immediately caught. How many times have they done that? Never. This was the first time. Their email warned about the content of Asking for It. I don’t think anyone would be shocked by the subject matter, considering the title. The first thought I had was oh another Willing Victim? Sign me up. What I got was a similar theme yet deeper and darker. My review will be vague because there are things that happen in this book that are better left for the reader to find out on their own.
Vivienne Charles has desires that have gone unfulfilled. She is ashamed of what she wants. She views the type of sex she wants as wrong and obscene, something she cannot ever let herself have.
But no matter how explicit and erotic the kaleidoscope gets, no matter how talented the guy’s tongue is, or how constant my hand’s pressure might be—it never, ever gets me off.
Only one fantasy does that.
I try not to think about it. I tell myself it’s sick, it’s wrong. A lot of times, when I’m with a guy, I just don’t come. It’s embarrassing to be this good at faking it.
Jonah Marks is in the right place at the right time to overhear one of Vivienne’s ex boyfriends discussing how he was unable to meet her needs. It happens at a party where everyone else also hears about her desires. She is mortified they all know and even more embarrassed when Jonah approaches he. He feels he can fulfill the need she is looking for because he has the opposite problem. While Vivienne cannot get off without the feeling of force or rape, Jonah wants to be the one to force.
They both realize how what they want is viewed as wrong and dirty but maybe they can help each other. Vivienne agrees to give it a try and Jonah arranges everything. What starts out as short encounters to satisfy their cravings turns into something more. What they are doing causes a deep connection between the pair. Each is sharing something they have never been able to talk plainly about or have with anyone else. It isn’t long before Vivienne is feeling more than she thought she would and wants out.
“I thought I could have sex outside a relationship, with no strings attached,” I say. “I did in undergrad, like anyone else. Probably I could do it again with someone else. But you and me— it’s not a normal situation. Not only because of, you know, the fantasy—” I glance around, but few students walk anywhere near us, and every single one is either wearing earbuds or absorbed in their cell phone. “It’s more complicated than that.”
“Our arrangement is simple,” he says flatly. “We were very specific about what this would be and how we would handle it.”
“This isn’t about logistics.” I look upward at a pale gray sky, the kind you see when the clouds have claimed the entire sky.Truth. Tell the real truth. “Jonah, every time I’m with you, it’s more than sex. Every time, I turn myself over to you, completely. I have to give you total control, and total trust.”
“I haven’t abused that trust, have I?”
Shaking my head, I say, “No. But don’t you see? I don’t just fuck you, Jonah. I bare my soul to you. Then we go back to being almost strangers to each other. The disconnect is getting to me, and I don’t think I can handle it anymore.”
Despite all our rules and resolutions, I have begun to have feelings for Jonah. To feel jealous of other women he might touch. To want to have not just his body but his heart. That means I want too much. Which in turn means I have to get out, now.
Jonah is equally attached but because of some childhood trauma he will do nothing to push the issue so they go their separate ways. Parts of Jonah’s past made my stomach roll and I absolutely understood his motives once we learn about them. He is really a great character. Of course, that isn’t the end and what happens from then on makes this book so much more than what Willing Victim was. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Willing Victim but that was experienced on a more shallow level, almost just a sexual thing. This brings emotion, psyche and lasting trauma into play.
Vivienne is the way she is because she was raped at a young age. I didn’t give anything away there because the reader is told rather quickly about it. If I had one issue with this book, it was how she handled that part of her life in relation to Jonah. She makes some choices that I did not agree with and I found myself extremely frustrated with her. Because of the topic and setting, I know there was no correct or incorrect way to handle it however I wanted her to do things differently. Vivienne is very complicated in her thinking and is seeing someone about her past. This isn’t a book that pays lightly with rape. It is handle with grace, delicacy and thought.
The end of Asking for It was unexpected but I quickly learned there will be another book toward the second half of the year. I’m really looking forward to that book because so much was left undone in this one. Asking for It is really darn sexy and apt to grab you in the feels. Both characters are wonderful, complicated and the reader will be able to easily relate to them. I recommend this book to all romance lovers but beware of the theme. You can’t pick it up without seeing the rape warnings so if that type of thing is something you avoid, stay away from this one. Final grade- A-/B+
Oh, God, oh, God. What is he going to do to me? I fear it as much as I thrill to it. Is there no danger, no humiliation, that can ruin this fantasy for me? Or will it own me forever?
It owns me. Jonah owns me.
Angela brought back a copy of Asking For It from this year’s RT convention. Comment below and one lucky person will win it!!
UPDATED WITH WINNER:
The winner is Jeri! Email has been sent.