My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This turned out better than I expected it to be, what with the heavily loaded comparisons to “Fifty Shades” and “Basic Instinct.” I’d throw the “Fifty Shades” and “Basic Instinct” references out the window. I personally (and I know I’m going to take flack for this because I’m comparing it to one of my favorite novels, and other people may not see it the same way – but it was the very first thing that came to my mind upon finishing it) would liken this to an erotic attempt/loose parallel with Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” – and it’s apt because:
1.) The heroine, Sara, is somewhat like Mrs. DeWinter in that she’s substituting the “Rebecca’s” place and working inside her shadow.
2.) There’s a dark play of tensions and romanticism where Sara’s trying to learn what happened to the missing woman, while also engaging in her own romantic rendezvous with someone who may/may not be involved in Rebecca’s circles.
3.) Most obvious reason, the Rebecca in this case is named “Rebecca”, and her presence is in the journals as a specter of sorts, always in the background if never in the forefront, though there is some loose talk among her former colleagues about her.
Oh, if only this were a more developed story to actually go that far though. I would’ve probably liked, no, loved it more if it did. The steamy elements were steamy, there was chemistry here, but the crater sized plot holes almost swallowed me whole.
The story is written via Sara’s perspective and revolves around her finding a series of very vivid erotic/BDSM type journals in a storage unit she’s acquired. The journals belong to Rebecca. Sara’s normally a schoolteacher, but decides to take on work in Rebecca’s place and ends up in the realm of the art world, played between two powerful figures who vie for her affections. Mark controls Sara in terms of the job, but Chris? He actually ends up being the figure that takes her completely by storm.
I really should’ve waited to pull out my music reference to Madonna’s “Masterpiece” for this work, because this is far more fitting to that song. (If you don’t know what I mean, reference my review for “A Taste of You”.) And given the cover lust I felt picking this one up, it’s doubly appropriate.
Chris and Sara have very strong erotic chemistry and there’s a play of sexual tension between them that actually stood out in my mind more than most of the book, sometimes humored, sometimes borderline possessive. The erotic journals are touched upon here, but are really more of a backdrop. I know there’s a mystery surrounding Rebecca’s disappearance, but it’s rather underwhelming because of the way the writing wove in places. I think this was a better effort than my last reading of Jones’s novels (I’ve read her when she wrote for the Harlequin Blaze series), but at the same time – this felt just as underwhelming for the potential of the pieces this story has. There’s very little intimacy on the measure of character development and plausibility to the overarching scenario. I had to suspend my disbelief on several measures involving the circumstances with Sara’s work situation, how she transitioned there, and even the rationale of the power plays of the guys vying for Sara’s affections.
The ending didn’t hit me as hard for impact as others because I read this book through something of a filter for most of the read – and I had the next book (which is an ARC) already lined up for me to read. I imagine if I’d read the ending without any other lead ins, I probably would’ve been upset. It felt incomplete, while providing an apt jumping point.
I don’t know – I think my final thoughts on this one are that I liked parts of it and see its potential, but there were so many flaws with the lack of development of the storylines, character intimacies (not sexual), and just needing a bit more flesh to pinch from. But I’m intrigued enough to see where this goes so I can say it was worth reading for me. This is one of those novels either you’re really taken by what it presents (provided you can suspend some measures for it) or you’re underwhelmed because it doesn’t do enough. I was somewhere between the two, though leaning more towards the latter.
Overall score: 2.5/5