If you want an erotic thriller with slight hints of romance and a HUGE helping of some honest-to-goodness BDSM, then look no further- the buck stops here.
I would even go as far as 4½♥'s on this book. Overall, the book was well written, complex and layered, very well researched, portrays the 'lifestyle' with brutal honesty, and manages to keep (this) reader guessing along the way. The main reservation I have about awarding a full 5 stars to this would be the beginning 20% of the book. There are a large number of characters we get to crawl inside the mind of, and the beginning was somewhat choppy for me and confusing at times until I became familiar and comfortable with all the primary characters.
It is a darker book, overall, violent and bloody. Everything in the book is treated with unapologetic honesty. From the murders to Doms and Subs and everything in between. There is no sugar coating, there is little romance, and the real world is rarely as pretty as TV and movies would have you believe. I guess that 'true to life' honesty is something that really grabbed me. Just like life - this book is not all sculpted abs, roses, and hearts. It contains 'real' (fictional but believable characters) people.
A word on the characters... there were several I didn't think I was going to end up liking. I'd say most of them, in fact, I really didn't think I was going to end up caring about. But by the end, I found something in almost all of them that grabbed me somehow. For Griggs, it's absolutely his love of cats. That was among my favorite parts of the book; silly- I know. Griggs has a foot-in-mouth filter missing that needs to be there, but his highly inappropriate comments did help lighten the mood several times. Gina was finally taking life by the horns and living it on her terms. I loved that. Hanson finally put on his big boy pants and accepted himself- what he really wanted and needed and allowed himself to have it. Cherry... I was really hoping for a different resolution that the uncertainty we are left with regarding her, but I was able to at least not only think of her as a victim.
I've mentioned it already, but I think I really need to specifically address... this is not a romance. There is kink, and it is portrayed extraordinarily well. This author obviously knows the scene, knows exactly what she is talking about, and I think it's refreshing to see BDSM so well represented in this book. It explains everything well for those unfamiliar to those in the lifestyle, but doesn't make it trite for those that already are familiar with the terms. Don't read this expecting romance, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. This book will try to push your sexual limits, desires, and fantasies. It will make you want to cry out, "No! No!" even when you are thinking, "Yes! Yes"... just don't forget your safeword: Red.
I want to thank Kate Kinsey, Netgalley, and the Shut Up and Read review program for allowing me to read and review this title for free. I have not received any compensation for my review.