AUTHOR: CHARLOTTE STEIN
Details: Received from SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca
“When Madison Morris decides to hire an assistant to help run her naughty bookshop, she gets a lot more than she bargained for. Two very different men are vying for the position...and a whole lot more.
Andy excites her into grasping control, while Gabriel shows her how freeing it can be to just let go. Soon the lines are blurring and Madison is no longer sure who's leading and who's following. In the midst of kinky threesomes and power plays, can she’ll have to finally decide what--and who--she really wants.”
This will be one of my more ambivalent reviews I’m afraid. While reading this book I was constantly torn between really enjoying myself and getting exasperated with the writing style.
I loved the idea behind the story.
Madison, the owner of the ‘Wicked Words’ bookshop (and isn’t that a brilliant name for a bookshop specialising in kinky titles), finds herself torn between Andy, the rather dominant and self-assured man about town and Gabriel, a shy, inexperienced and very submissive young man. When she hires Gabriel to work in her shop it isn’t long before she realises that he loves the kinky books she sells, although he does his best to hide his interest from her. It only takes her a little bit longer to discover that Gabriel, while inexperienced, feels the need to be told what to do. When ordered, he is up to almost anything. When Madison discovers her hidden talent for dominating Gabriel, things between them heat up very rapidly.
It doesn’t take long either before Madison realises she is developing feelings for Gabriel; feelings he is clearly experiencing too. Of course things are never that straightforward and especially not in this developing relationship; Andy is still in the mix and while all three of them seem to enjoy the sexy games they get involved in, his presence also emphasises all of Gabriel’s insecurities.
Like I said I really did like the idea behind this story. I enjoyed the games Madison played with Gabriel and how they teased him out of his shell. And I can’t deny that some of those games were very, very sexy.
However - you knew this was coming - I can’t help feeling I would have loved this story if only it had been told in a different way. This book was trying a bit too hard to be funny and snarky. I enjoy a humorous story as much as the next person, but only in the right setting. This book was dealing with deep and often repressed feelings and it could have been a truly touching story if they had been developed further. Because of the author’s constant need to be funny, those feelings sort of slipped into the background, but not enough - for me - to allow me to just go with the laughs. When I did smile I felt guilty for not feeling the emotions while every time I did manage to get really involved in the characters and their feelings I couldn’t help feeling I was missing the punchline. In fact, this book left me feeling that maybe I just wasn’t getting it.
Of course it is quite possible that the problem was exactly that; me not getting it. I would have liked this story to be more serious. I would have liked more insight into the development of the characters. I was constantly on the verge of really liking Gabriel only to never be able to get there because he just wasn’t developed enough. And the same is true for the other characters. Even Madison, who is the narrator never got better than two dimensional.
I also got lost in the timeline. When I thought only a few days had passed the story would surprise me by revering to passing months. And don’t get me started about the amount of times the word ‘lewd’ was used. It popped up so often that I ended up dreading the next time I would come across it.
I’m surprised to hear myself say it, but I can’t help feeling that this book would have benefited from a little bit less (rather hot) sex and more character development and attention to the emotions experienced by Madison, Gabriel and Andy. If you are in the mood for a funny and lighthearted sexy romp, this book may well be exactly what you need. If you want to feel the deep emotions that develop between well established characters, you probably want to pick up another title.