This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released on November 5, 2013
Awakening by Elene Sallinger was a much deeper book that just another BDSM erotic novel. BDSM erotic novels seem to be coming out left and right and at times I just get tired of them. But this was different. While it is erotic and does have BDSM, it is more a character driven romance. There are so many issue these two have to overcome during the course of the story. Emotions they have to face. Demons they have to overcome. Then throw in BDSM and you have an electrifying novel.
Claire Ryan has been in an abusive relationship for 14 years and has just come out of a year of solitude. The abuse was caused and instigated by her, not her partner. While I do blame the partner for the abuse, ultimately Claire instigated it and she owns up to it throughout the entire story. Claire starts out slow by joining a romance book club at the local bookstore. Upon entry she meets the owner, Evan Lang. He intimidates her from her first glimpse at him. After attending the book club, Claire browses books and eventually takes up a light BDSM story that leaves her close to orgasm as she reads it in the store. But she is caught by the Evan, who gives her a gruff store closing comment. The two clash from here on as the story progresses.
Evan feels attraction to the timid Claire right off. The first time he has gotten an erection for a woman since his wife Marianne died two years ago from cancer. Marianne was his soul mate, wife and submissive. Evan never expects to feel attraction and lust for a lone, fragile looking woman. When he catches her in the midst of arousal from reading, he puts up every barrier he has and comes across gruff and disdainful towards her. Grampling with his feelings, he continues this process through. Even when he overhears Claire explaining her former relationship to another patron, he can’t accept his feelings towards her. He starts leaving her books on BDSM on tables. Trying to guide her to a healthier BDSM relationship while also staying apart from her.
Over time Claire starts to find herself, grow in her confidence and realize while she wants a BDSM relationship, she can’t jump into things. Evan sees her grow and only grows to want her more with his body, but his mind continues to argue. The two finally explode in emotion and start a relationship of mentor Dom to sub, but with no sexual relationship.
While BDSM is a huge part of the book, it isn’t the biggest part. It doesn’t come into reality until over 50% of the way through the book. The focal point was two people overcoming their angst and living in the real world from which they hid in different forms. Evan hid from life by not living or engaging in dating, falling in love. He engaged his customers, but live had not meaning for him. He could not protect the one thing he loved. He was a Dom and that was his one thing to do, protect her. During the course of the story he has to learn to forgive himself and learn that loving again doesn’t mean he can’t still love his dead wife.
Claire really grew over the course of the book. A timid woman dealing with the guilt of what she did to her former lover. She learned to forgive herself and see what she really needed. She came out of her self induced banishment. Gaining friends, reconnecting with her brother, and learning its ok to enjoy impact play if done correctly. She stands up for herself even in the toughest of moments and realizes she deserves better and no one can make her feel bad about herself any longer.
One thing that I didn’t like was the unprotected sex in the story. There was no talk about birth control. Yes, the hero was 45 and the heroine was 35, but they were both still in prime baby-making ages along with diseases that run rampant in out society. The sex at times was very unplanned, desperate and consuming, but no one seemed to worry about anything from it. While I like my stories to be stories, this was based on so much real people would feel, so I expected a real discussion on baby making and diseases that never came. I wish I could let this go, but it stuck with me.
I recommend this to anyone who want a deeper book than sex or BDSM. This is a story about people, the choices they have made and how they can overcome their mistakes and make a better life for each other. The steamy sex did help though 🙂