She’s making a wish list, and he wants to be on top.
From foster kid to trophy wife, Tessa McAllen is about to reinvent herself all over again—and defy every insult her cheating ex-husband ever used against her: Selfish? She’s championing a charity. Stupid? She’s getting her degree.
Boring in bed?
Kade Vandergriff can help her with that one. When they encounter each other at a singles event held at one of his restaurants, Tessa blurts out that kink is for girls who try too hard, and Kade instantly wants to show this sassy stranger how thrilling a night under his command can be…but when he learns her name, the game changes for both of them.
In high school, Tessa was the popular girl who stuttering, awkward Kade fell for. But she chose another. Now, as she eagerly learns lesson after lesson, he’s going to make sure she never forgets him again.
*This review contains spoilers.
Tessa and Kade’s story is told in an alternating past/present formation which flows smoothly and establishes a visually defined history of both characters. The “past” chapters reveal how Tessa and Kade became friends in high school and how Kade was the awkward, stuttering, unpopular boy who was teased and bullied by Doug. (Tessa’s then boyfriend, now ex husband.) We also witness how their relationship develops beyond friendship and ultimately how Tessa rejects Kade despite her feelings for him. The “present” chapters build the romance and relationship Tessa and Kade are forming as adults and allows the reader to see how their characters have evolved. Roni Loren always does a good job in shaping a well rounded romance between her main couples. As the reader, you feel the chemistry, the build of emotions, feelings, insecurities, etc. If the storyline alone had remained a contemporary erotic romance it would have received a higher grade, however, the BDSM element is what ultimately resulted in a frustrating and disappointing read for me.
I don’t claim to have first hand knowledge of a BDSM lifestyle other than the fiction I read. I’ve read many different authors that write BDSM erotic novels. Both authors who participate in the lifestyle and those that only observe, research and write about it. What has consistently been an issue with me regarding this series is the way that lifestyle translates off the page to the reader. I have always felt like the tone of how the Dom/sub is portrayed is very contrived and melodramatic, almost as if you are role-playing a scene in a play but are not experiencing the character or the emotions and actions behind it. I think what jars me the most and ultimately disengages me from the story is how one minute the couple can be going about their daily routine in a regular conversation and then the hero/Dom may say “come here” and the flip is switched for the sub in what feels like an orchestrated and abrupt transition. The result is a lack of emotion and anticipation of the moment that doesn’t translate off the page for the transition to flow smoothly and authentically.
Finally, the pivotal scene; the confrontation between Kade and Doug when Kade reveals to Doug who he really is was what ultimately ruined the story for me. Doug taunts Kade and verbally degrades Tessa. Kade snaps and shoves Doug against the wall, suggesting that maybe he should beat and break him and do exactly what Doug did to him back in high school. Kade eventually gains a level of composure, tells Doug to leave and he does with a final verbal jab to both. Tessa, witnessing the entire altercation, then proceeds to calm Kade.
“Kade looked ready to kill him with his bare hands. She’d never seen anyone look so deadly. The hate was like a palpable flavor in the air around him.”
“He looked like he needed to punch a wall or pummel something, like all this energy was built up with nowhere to go.”
Tessa’s solution to Kade’s anger is to suggest he take back control and use her to do it. She tells him that he has granted her fantasy and maybe it’s time she grants his. To which he replies:
“I don’t think that’s a good idea right now. You haven’t seen my mean side, and I’m not sure I trust myself to keep it light and easy right now. Just give me a few minutes to calm down.”
Tessa then tells him she wants the primal part of him, “whatever this is”. To which Kade informs her “this, is the ugly part”.
Kade is a Dom and a Sadist who has just relived the worst emotional trauma of his life and for the first time as an adult, confronted a man who beat and raped him as a teenager. I would say he is beyond furious at this point and then agrees to transfer that violent energy, rage and emotion into a scene with Tessa where he proceeds in cutting her clothes off with a knife, hitting her with his belt which ultimately leads to anal sex. Now as the reader would you not be thinking at this point that if this man was raped, reliving the horrific attack in his mind, the last thing you would expect him to want is anal sex with a woman he claims to love? And even still, that the woman would desire anal sex at this juncture?
“I want you to hit me because being with you like this makes me feel less fragile. You aren’t afraid to push me, to break me. And sometimes…I wonder how it’d feel to be broken.”
One important element that is clear and concise with most authors who write about BDSM is a Dom/Master never lays his hands on a sub/slave in anger. Not ever. Kade broke the main code of a Dominant with regard to the fundamental principles of BDSM; safe, sane and consensual. In that moment, Kade was not of sound mind and body (sane) to proceed in a scene of BDSM or even just a general love scene for that matter. I no longer trusted his judgement for himself or for Tessa. When Tessa encouraged him to continue, wanting to be objectified, insignificant, “broken” in the midst of his rage, I was appalled. While Kade did not hurt Tessa physically or emotionally, I lost all respect for him as a Dom and with Tessa for encouraging the scene given his emotional state. From that point on I skimmed the rest of the story.
Need You Tonight is ultimately my least favorite book of the Loving on the Edge series, however, it does not reflect my view of the series as a whole. I have enjoyed several of the prior books in this series and will continue to read more from Ms. Loren with the hope that I can find another enjoyable story from her in the future.