“I want everything with you, but…can you take the lead?”
It’s been twelve years since Evan Kennedy lost her heart and her virginity to her first and only love, Jace Austin. After that night, her world fell apart and she found herself on a bridge with thoughts of ending her life. Evan didn’t know it at the time but the boy who found her on that bridge and saved her would become the man she is now engaged to. Growing up as a foster child, Evan has continued to battle internal feelings of inadequacy. Although she finds security and friendly companionship with her fiancé, Daniel, his sexual preferences lie with the same sex and he is in a committed relationship with his lover, Marcus. This leaves Evan to a life of solitary sexual release. Evan feels that she owes her life to Daniel (Dr. Dan) and is willing to sacrifice her happiness in order for Daniel’s new heterosexual couple’s television show, Reignite the Flame, to succeed.
Upon attending a couple’s weekend hosted by Dr. Dan, Evan unexpectedly runs into Jace who offers his help to her after a nasty jellyfish sting on the beach. Both Evan and Jace are stunned when they finally recognize each other. Jace discovers that Evan is the fiancé of Dr. Dan and Evan learns Jace is at the couple’s weekend to promote his adult store, Wicked, with the hope of Dr. Dan’s public endorsement. Jace is relieved to see that Evan is alive and well after all these years and still feels a strong connection between them. He is curious about her life and what happened after she ran away from his family years ago but Evan has no desire to walk down memory lane with the boy who broke her heart so she thanks him for his help and walks away.
After the weekend ends, Evan’s sexual frustration is at a boil with no satisfying release to be found. Daniel takes note of this and decides to buy Evan a membership to a private BDSM club, The Ranch, in hopes that Evan can find some sexual release and fun with a Dom before they are married. Evan is initially shocked at the thought of attending The Ranch, but decides maybe it is what she needs to not only fulfill her sexual desires but also to erase the thoughts of Jace that continue to flood her mind since their meeting.
Both Jace and his best friend, Andre, are Dom’s at The Ranch. They prefer and have chosen to have ménage relationships whenever they take on a Sub at the club. Both are ready to take on a new Sub so when they arrive to select from the new members, Jace is floored to find Evan is one of the two new Subs up for selection. Jace knows that Evan is engaged and can’t imagine why her fiancé would allow her to attend the club without him. Jace immediately decides that Evan must have sexual desires that are not being fulfilled by her soon to be husband. She has not selected that she is into ménage, but Jace’s protective nature kicks in and he is determined that no other Dom will take control of Evan at the club but himself, even if it means going solo, without Andre.
Once Evan agrees to Jace being her Dom for the duration of her stay at The Ranch we really begin to see the story take flight for all characters involved. As a reader, I am always looking for the author that can convince me this type of lifestyle can be balanced and actually work. The relationship that develops between Jace, Evan and Andre comes across as very authentic. While Jace and Andre are best friends and this lifestyle is second nature to both, we still experience the jealousy Jace feels in sharing the woman that he loved and protected as a teen so many years ago. This leads to Jace’s internal struggle of wanting to bury the feelings/emotions he has for Evan in order to keep a professional Dom/s role and successful ménage. All three characters know that this is a temporary relationship with no permanent union which proves difficult to face as feelings develop deeper between all three. Finally we witness the friendship of Jace and Andre develop into something more and this is where I believe some of the character development was lacking. We never really experience the internal emotions and feelings from Andre’s perspective. I was not convinced of the love of Jace and Andre like I was Jace and Evan.
One of my overall dislikes to this story is the same problem I found in the first book, Crash Into You, and that is the “light heartiness” that is communicated of the BDSM lifestyle. I felt that Evan, never having experienced BDSM, accepts it with no issues or emotional struggles in regard to her submissive role. It almost translated as more of a game of truth or dare as opposed to serious BDSM role play. Evan’s use of “yes sir” was always a quick response and for the most part felt fake and silly. And Jace’s “pet” endearment felt awkward and communicated an artificial vibe to their overall feelings to each other and the lifestyle. I think whether the character’s are living the life of BDSM or participating in a temporary role play setting, it should reflect a serious nature of trust and submission. This frivolous portrayal of Dom/s is where I struggle with the storytelling the most. I also had issues with how Jace handled the blackmail of his ex-wife. She was a bitch, she had used him for years and I was ready for him to man up and put an end to her manipulative demands. This is the only time I felt like Jace’s character came across as weak and I didn’t like how his solution was giving into her threats.
Ultimately Ms. Loren’s creation of flawed characters with past emotional ties is what draws me to her stories. I believe she forms an immediate chemistry with the main protagonists that remains strong throughout their journey. I always enjoy the steamy love scenes and the intimacy she communicates with her main characters
If you are a fan of second chance romance paired with ménage and a lighter BDSM element, then give this one a try.
“His kiss was hard, hungry, not at all tentative. It was a proclamation, a claiming. And God, she wanted to be consumed by it. By him.”