"I'd like to ask you out. On a date."
Dana's insides ignited. She'd harbored a secret attraction to him for so long, safe behind her rule about not dating clients, and she suddenly realized she'd just lost her protective barrier.
She'd been out on dates…However, submitting would be…no, she'd kneeled for Garnet. She couldn't surrender her will to anyone else.
To the world, Dana Bennett is a confident and successful interior designer. But emotionally, she is still struggling with her husband's passing a year and a half after his death. Dana is selected by Zachary Irving to renovate his house 3 years after his wife's death. Her initial empathy for his loss turns into interested curiosity as it becomes apparent he and his wife practiced a D/s lifestyle. It's a lifestyle she and her deceased husband practiced as well.
Despite her interest in Zach, she never dates clients and doesn't plan to start now. But after 7 months, their working relationship ends, removing the impediments which kept them from getting to know each other on an intimate level. Though Dana will miss Zach's presence in her life now that the job is over, she doesn't feel she's ready for another Dominate/submissive relationship. It's up to Zach to change her mind.
This is another gritty and realistic portrayal of the Dom/sub dynamic by Ms. Blevins. Dana Bennett is an emotionally vulnerable character still tied to her past marriage, but she's not a wimp. She's strong in her convictions and in her negotiations when she decides to take a step toward her future – a D/s relationship with Zach. Their sexual exploration cracks Dana's emotional barrier and she realizes she cares for Zach. This realization intensifies her internal struggle that a new love is a betrayal to her dead husband. She's walking an emotional tight rope and Ms. Blevins conveys her ordeal perfectly.
Sometimes it's just hard to let go of something that was wonderful in our lives; it's human nature to want to hold on. I could definitely relate to her struggle. This is the emotional battle that Zach waged with Dana – to move on from her past love. It's a battle he's already been through himself. His wife died a few years earlier and it's because of his plan to alter his home, to let go of his past that he meets Dana. The characters' empathy for the other at the beginning of the story really engaged me in their story line and I was hooked. I desperately wanted to see them happy.
This book isn't just whips, chains and bondage- though there is a lot of that in this tale. The story is a journey between two people as they deal with their pasts, embrace their present and hope for a future together. It's a poignant and emotional ride that becomes more intense when the BDSM dynamic is introduced into their relationship. This dynamic is intense, painful, exciting and smacks of realism (no pun intended). Some of the BDSM scenes were shocking and difficult for me to read because I'm not into Dana's extremely painful masochistic kink. However, Ms. Blevins adroitly uses Dana's need for extreme pain to add another emotional layer to the story, because Zach must not only accept that Dana needs intense pain, but he must learn to give it to her if their relationship is to make it. Two other facets that made this book a page-turner for me were the introduction of two secondary characters- Jacob, a male submissive, and his master and Dana's friend, Brent. They added an extra bit of kink to this story and they play a key role in Dana's journey. I can't say anymore than that, but it was an eye opener for me.
Though SAFEWORD: DAVENPORT is an emotional roller coaster ride, be forewarned this is a scorching HOT read. There are scenes of dominance and submission that will curl your toes and have you running to take a cold shower (or grab a mechanical aid). This book is a keeper and one I will definitely be reading again. In the meantime I look forward to reading the second part of Dana and Zach's story -- Safeword: Davenport and Chiffon.