Review From User :
4.5 - 5 stars
Woah. I think I loved this book.
It was a completely unconventional erotic romance. Raw, but not gritty. Real, introspective, dark and sexy, painful and yet not in a rip-your-heart-out way, very erotic, heavy and just so "different" than anything else I've read so far.
It a very well written, character-driven book that touches on themes of guilt, self worth, trust, survival. And a sort of love.
I started this one because I wanted something 'different'. Don't get me wrong, I live for my romance books that you see me review all the time but every once in a while you want something a little outside the box. Something that kind of jars your senses and makes you sit up and pay close attention because its 'new ground' this book gave me that. Still, after having finished it, I'm not sure where to classify it and I'm fine with that and I like knowing I have Megan Hart's writing to turn to to add more change-ups to my to-read list.
So don't go into this expecting your classic romance story. You have to be open minded and I think that if you know that from the start, it will help you better appreciate the story. But, that being said it is a romance. For sure. All the way. Just not your regular guy-meets-girl, they fall in love, they sleep together, declare love and live happily ever after romance. Its heavier. More raw. Real.
Elle meets Dan in a candy store. Unlike all the other men in her past, he doesn't compliment her, ask her name, make a move, or try to sleep with her. He just shows her a good time for the afternoon and then walks away.
"So, you're a good girl."
"Depends on your definition of good ."
"Are you flirting with me"
"Do you want me to"
"Do you want to do what I want" My pulse pounded at his question, murdered directly into my ear."
She can't get him out of her head.
"I'd met men who made me laugh, who made me sigh, even a few, very few, who'd made me come. Until now I had never met one I couldn't forget."
The next time he pops into her life, she is again drawn to him. They are at a club and he gets her off on the dance floor. And she lets him. He seems to treasure her but not try to claim her.
"The next time I watch you come," he said, "I want to be inside you."
Then he got up from the table and left me there, alone.
Elle's life has made her disenchanted with men and she doesn't believe that Dan is any different from. She doesn't date. Only has sex. Never anything more. Almost the same way guys typically go through women - not really caring emotionally about who they screw, just using it as a means to an end. She doesn't want to fall in love and doesn't want to be loved. She has closed her self off from all intimany. The only thing she will accept is raw sex. No strings.
"I believe Dan and I were drawn together I believe I was empty and waiting to be filled, and Dan was there to do it. And I believe it could have been someone else, that we are not bound for one person in the universe, and another time or another man might have found a way to fill me. I believe that, but I am glad it was Dan who did. Dan had opened my eyes, but only because they were ready to open."
So Dan goes about showing her slowly that she can be cared for. Not pushing what he wants on her but willing to give whatever she'll accept. Showing her through his actions rather than his words how serious he is at the same time of being respectful of her feelings.
And eventually Elle realizes that, at some point, she has to choose between having the wall she's built around herself or taking a real chance on the man she can't stop thinking about.
"I do not like that I let circumstances rob me of the ability to have a normal relationship with a man, to have friends, to be happy. I do not like it, but I had felt myself powerless against it.
I didn't want to feel powerless anymore."
Why is it that if a guy sleeps with a lot of women, its accepted, but women who do the same are looked down on as sluts and whores How is that fair Its an interesting concept though because Elle is clearly neither of those, but still has slept with 78 men in her life.
Elle was very real. Neither fake nor fantasy perfect. Just real. She was a complex, damaged woman with a lot of pain and emotional scarring in her past. But I like that she didn't feel completely broken. Damaged yes, but not broken. She had found a way to cope. To move on with her life. I loved that Dan helped her bring down some of her walls, but at the same time, I totally understood why those walls were there.
"Sex is not wrong. Sex is not dirty. Not even sex in a public place with a man you barely know. Its not. Sex is a gift, a built-in human pleasure, something to enjoy and cherish and utlizie. Sex rejuvinates. Sex replenishes. Sex is not. I am not dirty. I'm not."
And omg Dan was just perfect. But not in a 'too perfect' way. His patience with her melted my heart. I totally fell in love with him. With how was willing to just take her as she was. To hold back and give her what she needed to feel safe. Not caged, but safe. To make her trust him. If he had done it any differently, he would have lost her in a heart beat.
It was like he knew she couldn't be tied down, but he was always there to catch her when she fell.
I loved that their relationship (or arrangement, or whatever you want to call it) wasn't rushed. No insta-love here. It was about building trust. A connection. Until finally it naturally developed into something deeper as Dan helped bring Elle out of her shell and taught her to feel safe again.
The book was very well written. Very introspective. Kind of just pulls you right into Elle's head. Into her thoughts. You see her move through her life as well as hear her pause to contemplate things along the way. It was a seamless blend of the two. I honestly started highlight a bit in this one chapter near the beginning and had to stop when I realized I pretty much had a solid page and a half I wanted to quote. You'll just have to read it for yourself to see what I mean. There is really no fluff in this book. No excess drama. The story was utterly non-perfect and I loved it.
"Sometimes grief is a comfort we grant ourselves because its less terrifying than trying for joy. Nobody wants to admit it. We'd all declare we want to be happy, if we could. So why, then, is pain the one thing we most often hold on to Why are slights and griefs the memories on which we choose to dwell Is it because joy doesn't last but grief does"
And boy is it EROTIC !!!! The sex in this books is OFF. THE. CHARTS. HOT. I really mean it!!!! Graphic. Erotic. Sensual, Kinky A part of me felt like I should have had a problem with some of the things that happened, but oddly enough, in the context of the story, I felt that everything was just right.
I've heard mixed reactions to the ending and so I was very curious about it. I think the best way to describe it is 'perfectly fitting for the story'. Its a happy ending, and yes, they are together, but at the same time, it wasn't "riding-off-into-the-sunset-with-hearts-and-rainbows-and-fluffy-unicorns perfect". Like the rest of the book, it just felt very real.
It's not the kind of book I'd reread over and over again but I loved that I read it.
I think what I'm left with is the thought of what a talented writer Megan Hart is. She has a really beautiful writing style and I'm very much looking forward to reading more of her books.
CASTING (above and below)
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This is what happened…
I met him at the candy store.
He turned and smiled at me and I was surprised enough to smile back. This was not a children’s candy store, mind you this was the kind of place you went to buy expensive imported chocolate truffles for your boss’s wife because you felt guilty for having sex with him when you were both at a conference in Milwaukee.
Hypothetically speaking, of course.
I’ve been hit on plenty of times, mostly by men with little finesse who thought what was between their legs made up for what they lacked between their ears.
Sometimes I went home with them anyway, just because it felt good to want and be wanted, even if it was mostly fake.
The problem with wanting is that it’s like pouring water into a vase full of stones. It fills you up before you know it, leaving no room for anything else. I don’t apologize for who I am or what I’ve done in or out of bed.
I have my job, my house and my life, and for a long time I haven’t wanted anything else.
Until Dan. Until now.