Another five star read for me from Roni and this time I really, really mean it. Not like I didn't mean it the last time, but I really enjoyed-- no, devoured this book. I deeply love her work and I'm not just sucking up. Okay maybe a little.
There are some themes in this book that remind me so much of my upbringing. My parents are deeply religious, so I understand Tessa's past, both with her foster parents (expected to be the good girl, told what good girls do and don't do) and with her ex-husband Doug, a preacher who is expected to uphold a certain standard but is diddling everything on two legs in the background. Having grown up in the church with a front row view of what really happens once the Pastor says Amen, I was engrossed in Roni's interpretation of being embroiled in something sinister and nasty. And those two words exactly describe Doug, a man who is pilfering from a charity and his congregation but wanting Tessa to fall on her sword so he doesn't have to pay the consequences.
I could also really relate with Kaden--not the suave, debonair business man Kade, but Kaden-- the outcast, the stutterer, but the smart kid that every one leaned on to keep their grades up so they could remain on their various sports teams or stay in the parent's good graces. I remember being that girl that was smart so I was asked for help at every turn, but never asked to the parties or get-togethers. No one knew about the crushes I had on various boys... no one paid attention to me until they needed something from me. And then tossed me away into the pile of people only midly necessary for comfort of life. So yes, I understood Kade, at the core.
When Kade and Tessa reconnect many years later,they're both so different that they don't recognize each other. Rather, Tessa doesn't recognize Kade since he's all grown up and using a different name. She doesn't know it's him, the stuttering kid that tried to compete for her with Doug... until he confronts her with their past and gives her the chance to go back to a time when life was as simple as really liking a guy and not being able to do anything about it.
Can you imagine... getting a chance to seduce the guy or girl you always wanted back then? And knowing that s/he wanted you, too? To be able to go back in time, knowing what you know now, not held down by someone else's beliefs or opinions... that blew my mind.
Kade has his own secrets and problems. His nasty divorce and kinky lifestyle brought problems for him, one of which isthat he doesn't have custody of his daughter and isn't allowed to see her. His "deviant" behavior might rub off on her, so she's not even allowed in his home. When Doug crashes his way back into Tessa's life, he uses Kade's situation to lure her back to Atlanta. By this point she has been introduced to life as a Submissive and her teacher, Kade, is showing her what life can be like when you own your desires and fantasies and are open to a life of more than boring, vanilla, missionary sex.
Tessa has a plan, though. And with Kade's help, they'll bring Doug to his knees. Almost literally.
I feel like this book went so far, so deep into the psychology of need, both Tessa's and Kade's. Using their past experiences to shape their current realities, they're able to explore a more freeing life together. Lots of introspective, thoughtful dialog in this book and it seems like a lot less sex? Well, maybe I'm just getting used to the kink. ;)
I continue to be really pleased with how the Ranch is used for pleasure, for games, for erotic purpose and not as something mean or punishing. Everyone involved is consenting and everything that happens, happens because it is wanted. I've tried reading other BDSM themed novels and there's so much sadism, mean spirited almost rape-like sex. Doesn't sound pleasurable or enjoyable and there's no delight in reading it. There is no care, no love, no need to protect and please. Roni's approach to Dominance/Submission and BDSM makes all the difference.
Plus, I always get a chuckle or two in each chapter because she's actually a very funny person.
Can't wait for the next book!