Surrender To Temptation
Penguin Books AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
After she walked in on her boyfriend with another woman, Devon Reid vows to change her life. She quits her job so that she doesn’t have to see her former boyfriend anymore and she finds herself retreating to a small California town she has visited on vacation before. There, in the local restaurant she meets a man who incinerates her with a single look.
After a brief interaction, he hands her a business card and tells her that if she needs a job, she will find one there. Devon fronts up to Phyrefly Aviation for an interview and is placed in the accounting section. It isn’t until after she’s given a job that she realises the mysterious man from the restaurant is Zach St Brenton, owner and CEO of Phyrefly. A billionaire going places, Devon knows that Zach is hopelessly out of her league. That doesn’t stop her from wanting him though. And it doesn’t seem to stop him from wanting her either.
But Zach’s needs are different to what Devon is accustomed to. Zach isn’t satisfied by vanilla sex and demands his lovers give up full control to him. Devon isn’t sure she likes being told what to do, or surrendering her decisions to Zach, but she doesn’t want to lose him either. Even though they both want different things and she’s pretty sure only heartbreak will await her at the end, she decides to give herself fully to him and let him guide her experiences. And maybe, just maybe, she might be enough for him to want to stay.
When I first started reading this book, I was confused. I knew I’d read the first chapter before and I couldn’t figure out how given it’s a new novel that’s only just being published (I think it was published elsewhere, perhaps online or eBook, in several parts but I knew I wouldn’t have read it there). Finally I figured out that it was a sneak peak in a copy of another Lauren Jameson novel I read recently. The beginning of this novel is very promising – Devon is buying herself some lingerie in an expensive store in the hope that her boyfriend might sleep with her in a position other than the boring missionary. When in the store she hears something about him that trips her suspicion and she goes to his place, only to find him getting busy with someone else, who wears expensive lingerie from the same store – only in a much smaller size than Devon.
After she has fled, Devon crosses paths with Zach St Brenton, an undeniably attractive and rich man who unleashes a little of the inner bad girl in Devon. She wants to experiment with him but Zach runs hot and cold, tracking her down and pushing her away before finally admitting that he wants her but he isn’t sure she’d be into what he desires. He wants a submissive, someone who will hand him complete control. Zach desires to always be in control.
I’ve read several of these types of books recently and they all hinge around the Dom knowing that the woman wants to submit to him fully deep down, even if they don’t know it themselves yet. I don’t really know about this – it doesn’t really sit right with me because I thought that BDSM was about a mutual exploration of fantasy with the Dom desiring to control and the submissive keen to explore their willingness to give up that control. Expecting someone to give that up when they don’t even know they want to sounds a little backwards to me. And the thing that concerned me in this novel is that Devon, once she decides to do what Zach wants, has a safe word. Which is fine, it’s good. However, there are a few times in the novel when she clearly feels like she might want to use it but doesn’t because she knows she’ll never see Zach again if she does. That is not the right reason not to use your safe word! That bothers me because I’m not sure it’s what a safe, consensual BDSM relationship should be about if there is a safeword involved. I know there are couples out there who choose not to have one – the submissive gives up full control to the Dom, trusting them to know their limits and push them only as far as they can go, pain and pleasure wise. However if there is a safeword then a sub shouldn’t feel like they can’t use it for fear that the Dom will spurn them and run away. A Dom should guide a sub through all of the facets of the relationship, including giving them breathing space and time to regroup if they need it. Especially when they’re totally new to everything and didn’t come into the relationship with a desire to actively submit. They should also be able to refuse an act, should they not feel comfortable. It doesn’t mean they’ll never want to do it again. However I get the feeling that some think this is ‘topping from the bottom’ when really, all it does is make a safeword useless and ineffective. I do wish that these novels would portray the message that sometimes, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and unsure. And to say no, if that’s how you feel. And not be scared that the guy will leave you because you questioned his judgement.
Apart from that issue (which I do admit, is kind of a big one for me) the rest of the book was okay. There’s a decent amount of chemistry between the characters and I liked Devon’s backstory but I felt that her history could have been better explored. Zach is damaged, as so many of them are but I didn’t predict what had caused it and it was certainly different to what I’d read before. I also understood how that event might’ve led to him becoming the way he was, but like Devon, I do feel like more of the book could’ve been devoted to exploring this. A bit less sex and a bit more depth and I would’ve really enjoyed this. I like a well-written sex scene but not at the expense of character and plot development. This isn’t a long book (or series of short interludes) and it could definitely have carried a bit more of the heavier stuff to really flesh it out.
Book #68 of 2014