Genres: BDSM Romance
Published by Blushing Books Publishing
Released on October 15, 2013
A reunion of lovers with betrayal, love, fear, and truth coming to the forefront. Loving the reunion, but a scene stole my love for the story and set it to an oh, no, you didn’t. We all make mistakes, but how you handle it is where I draw the line.
Sara and her boyfriend are trying to reconnect as they have drawn apart. Booking a vacation to the Castle seems like a good way to reconnect, but from the moment they step off the bus, I felt a disconnect with the boyfriend and the way he treated Sara. Nothing horrible, but mostly inconsiderate as we learn Sara is a burn survivor even if we don’t learn till later how it happened. The most damaged area is her hip, which stretches painfully, causing her to limp and have to navigate steps slower than in the past. Quickly the two are whisked to Wardrobe to get into their royalty clothing separately.
The boyfriend is excited to show Sara what the Castle has, leading her downstairs impatiently tot he dungeon and right into a fire scene. As you can imagine, Sara promptly panics, tearing her dress as she hides in the men’s room and security is called. Head of Castle Security, Jackson, immediately runs to the aid of a traumatized submissive only to be shocked that it is the one woman he loved who ran away from him. He won’t let Sara walk away from him this time.
Meeting in Marshall’s office, we don’t see Sara’s side other than she will be returning on the bus in the morning home. Jackson has other plans and gives Marshall notice he is taking a vacation and becoming Sara’s Master for her time at the Castle. We get a glimpse of their relationship in the past, what caused her accident, and the same beliefs that keep driving Sara to want away from Jackson. Sara loved BDSM once upon a time, the bite of fire, of the flogger, but when she scenes once with Jackson, she knows she would fall in love with him and he would continue his playboy ways. That was the furthest thing from Jackson’s mind. Their once scene wowed him, but her denial of wanting more than friendship floors him. Then Sara’s accident happens and Jackson won’t leave her side, but she knows he can’t love her and checks out of the hospital a day early, disappearing and leaving him wanting. Now he wants payback and that’s what ticked me off.
Sara can’t see a future for them. Jackson can’t get past the feeling of betrayal. One scene goes too far. He spanks her beyond what she can handle even if she never utters her safeword. He goes beyond what he normally tolerates as a Dom, spanking her till his hand hurts a lot. And he dumps her to run off to deal with the emotions of hurt he expressed on her body. This is where I really felt so horrible about Jackson. The one character I adored in Kaylee’s Keeper as he was a smiling dominant, one who was worried about safety and talked to Kaylee explaining things. It seemed everything good escaped as he delivered this spanking. And Sara knelt crying she was sorry. Accepting it.
Now if you delete this scene, the story is a little better, but it can’t be deleted. If he had apologized for having in essence beaten her, I could have forgiven as this is a spanking book and he would have admitted he made a mistake. We all make mistakes, but a Dom needs to be in control of himself and his anger at all times in a scene. And he wasn’t in control of anything.
The story moves on from this point not quite comfortably, but at least conciliatory. With each day she misses the bus, they grow closer, come clean on a few emotions. Jackson doesn’t see the burn scars, he sees the woman he fell in love with. Sara starts to believe that he may actually care for her and not need a new woman each night. And when the last bus to leave comes, is she on it? Read and find out yourself.
This was a deeper story on the effects of BDSM scenes going wrong. From fire play to spanking, things aren’t always safe even if you do everything right. What happens when they do is what makes a story good or just plain wrong. This had both elements, which caused a complexity I haven’t felt twisted like this over in a long time.
We also meet the chef, Connie who is a switch. So far I haven’t seen her get her own story, but we see Jackson know when her submissive side, which she hates, needs to be taken care of. And this made me think, how do these submissives falling for working Doms handle their lovers giving other submissive things they need even if it isn’t sexual in nature? Like Marshall is the Master of the Castle Masters. He gives the spankings to naughty submissives but also is in a relationship with his secretary, Kaylee. Sam, we don’t see as much, but he is also the Dom of Hannah. She helps him with his scenes, but even Hannah wonders why he is attracted to her over them. Jackson is the head of security, so not directly involved in scenes unless they go bad. I can see his job not being much of a problem, but it does have me wondering.
The Castle is a unique place to visit through words. A place you wish you could be a mouse in. Just to watch…yeah I am a voyeur I guess, but only because these stories fascinate me on how they pulled it all off. This story gives me another glimpse at the Castle, but also from the spaces in the Castle for employees, which breaks the regency dream. Catch my next review as we get another story just made for the Castle.
Reading Challenge #146
Review Writing Challenge #48
Bad Boys of Romance #20
Literary Pickers #43 – Reunion/Second Chances
About the Book
Once upon a time, Jackson and Sara were friends. Close friends. Friends with benefits, even. For him, making that leap into a committed relationship seemed like a no-brainer. For her, it was scary as hell. Having seen more than one submissive become lost in the illusion of a relationship that was then incapable of surviving in real life, Sara was terrified. She knew she was falling in love, and she had no idea with what: Jackson the reality, or the masterful illusion. Then the accident happened and Jackson was there for her. And that’s when Sara knew – she was going to lose herself in the illusion. Terrified, she ran.
Now, years later, Jackson is chief of security for The Castle – the hottest BDSM fantasy resort in the country. Summoned to the dungeon on a trouble call, Sara is the last person he expects to find huddled up against the bathroom wall. After three long years filled with even longer nights, he’s had plenty of time to consider all he’d do if ever she fell back into his life. When he sees his chance, he doesn’t hesitate. One day – that’s all he has before the buses come and Sara runs again. One day to rekindle old passions, to bury old fears, to prove once and for all just what is illusion and what is not.
Publisher’s Note: While this is the third book in Maren Smith’s hugely popular Masters of the Castle series, it can be read as a standalone, as can all the others. The series numbers are just a guideline as to recommended reading order.
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