Love ignited after five years of tortured existence is the hope many unhappy couples dream about, especially if it is a shotgun wedding. Jaime is a feisty firefighter sexual Dominant. A blazing hot one-night stand completely changes his life when it ends up with a knocked up woman. Rickie met Jaime in a bar and in the spur of the moment, hooks up with him for some kinky nasty sex. After-morning regrets is never so strong as in this case.
Fast forward five years later and it's a freaking train wreck. Jaime and Rickie have been separated for a year. Rickie filed for divorce because she wasn't getting her needs met by her husband, Jaime. Basically, she wanted to kink up the sex, but after years of giving Jaime the cold shoulder to kinky sex, he's stopped trying.
Let's stop for a moment. Unfortunately women like this are in abundance and they are an embarrassment to the rest of us sane women. Rickie is the classic wife men complain about. She gives mixed messages and then expects the confused man to read her mind. She forces him to pay penance for some event he doesn't understand. Worse, she holds their daughter hostage against him. The worst crime is her restricting him to cut off parts of him, specifically his love of BDSM. For a kinkster like me, this is a most heinous crime. There is nothing redeemable about Rickie other than she shot out a baby for Jaime. She's despicable and a witch who spellbinds poor Jaime.
However, Ms. Cayne did a good job of creating her characters. While Rickie is completely unlikeable, Jaime is the one who readers pity. He's the white knight suffering as a prisoner of war. He is sexy, handsome and loyal. He's also been castrated by his bitch of a wife. Jaime is quite emasculated in this story through the chains of love. It's interesting how well Ms. Cayne captures this dynamic. It's as if she possesses intimate knowledge of these types of relationships. I've been exposed to these through many male co-workers. Her portrayal is eerily accurate and just as depressing.
The plot of this story is how a marriage is saved. The work is all done by Jaime. He's the one who makes the changes and compels Rickey to communicate with him. This is the interesting part. This is where Ms. Cayne's claiming Jaime is a Dominant falls short for me. There is no "one true way" for D/s. However, Ms. Cayne's understanding of it is not a type I would ever enjoy. I'd also urge kinksters to avoid the Dominants Ms. Cayne portrays. An example of disturbance is Jaime's explanation of D/s:
"D/s relationships aren't usually about love, Rickie. They are about two people getting what they need, sexually." (p. 42)
Yes, this can be true. But it's a sad day to have it just about the sex. Actually, D/s is more about the erotic power exchange. The communication and trust to submit and gift power to another person. How is love not involved with honest communication and trust? Replace D/s relationship with prostitution and the sentiment from Jaime would be dead on.
Then the hole-digging becomes deeper as Jaime explains BDSM.
He [Jaime] laughed. "No. I could never see you as part of the lifestyle. You're way too pure."
When her expression turned mulish, he laughed again. "No need to be insulting," she [Rickie] said.
"Believe me, I meant that in the best way possible. I like you exactly the way you are. The world of BDSM can be very ugly. It isn't for people who just want to experiment. You have to be the lifestyle, not act it."
"Did you see any of this ugliness?"
"I'd never judge anyone. People have different needs and what's right for one might not be for the other. That's what went wrong with Andrea. I likeŚno, I loveŚcontrolling my partner's sexual gratification. It turns me on like nothing else. But part of a true D/s relationship also involves punishment. If the submissive doesn't follow the rules, her Dom has to punish her. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against inflicting pain when the return in pleasure is greater. But I just can't hurt someone for the purpose of giving them pain." (p. 42)
What the hell did I just read? First of all, punishment doesn't require physical pain. Also, a D/s relationship doesn't require SM either. Plus pain is relative. For someone who has sensitive skin, fireplay is unbearably painful. Yet Jaime's specialty is fireplay. The myth that BDSM is solely for those who live it as a lifestyle is damaging. It's judgmental and speaks of elitism. BDSM is for anyone willing to experiment. They don't have to be labeled as BDSM lifestylers. The final fallacy which pushed me over the edge is the following:
Deep subspace is only possible when a sub gives herself over to the experience and cedes all control to her Dom. (p. 108)
Untrue. There are different ways to achieve subspace. It is personal and different for each submissive or bottom. Some who enjoy giving all control to their Dominant may not achieve subspace even when they completely cede control.
Now, I point out these things not because I believe authors need to give a BDSM 101 class in their stories. However, I do require they do enough research so they don't give those outside of the BDSM world the wrong ideas. It's more than just the fetish acts or scenes which need to be researched. Understanding the mindset is just as important if one is going to be writing it in a contemporary erotic romance. My recommendation, find those who have been in the lifestyle for many years and observe how they interact. Talk to well respected Tops and Dom/mes.
Now, the fireplay in this book is good. The scene is written sensually and well. As a fireplay lover who's experience it in several intense sessions including fire cupping, this was the best part of the story.
The story overall is written well with no plot holes. The characters behave according to their design. The pace of this story is a bit slow but it works out fine. This story is a romance with a happily ever after. It's lovely how a relationship so broken can be saved and brought back anew. For this message of hope as well as the delicious fireplay, I'm recommending for romance readers who want to kick up the heat.