Vivienne Charles is a graduate student who basically has never had the kind of sexual relationship that she desperately needed and craved. And this isn't because she hasn't tried or because her ex boyfriends have been bad in bed. Just the opposite actually. Her experiences have been nice, but not one man could ever give her what she needed, because what she wanted made her feel guilty and ashamed and she never even considered propositioning a man for her kinky fantasy. Vivienne has an extremely dark moment in her past which is to blame for her transgressions and her character is actually really flawed and torn. She needs a man to get her off by pretending to rape her. And she never thought it would actually happen.
That man would be Jonah Marks, but she didn't proposition him. In fact quite the opposite. I really liked Jonah a lot, he's very dark and broody and all kinds of hot. He too has some interesting things in his past, and as you might have guessed, he has the same fantasy as Vivienne, the only difference being that he fantasizes about being the aggressor.
I will tell you what I liked and didn't like. I liked the characters and concept a lot. I like the fact that for the first half of the book I couldn't put it down. And I loved the fact that the Author didn't go light on the emotional backdrop of the story. But what I didn't like is that as soon as it started to pick up and really get me exited for whatever was coming next I was disappointed every time. It was written well so I liked that, but it never gave me what I was hoping for which was something mind-blowing and completely gnarly. I wanted to feel frightened and anxious like one would in a precarious situation, and I never did. The part that did feel real was the mutual respect that the characters had for each other. It's understandable that when a couple comes into an arrangement of this nature that it needs to be handled with care and extreme caution. And Jonah made it very clear that he wasn't going to do anything that would actually harm Vivienne, and with that being said I just thought it would be BAM show on! And it just wasn't.
I'm not generally a fan of books with a disclaimer or warning about it's contents, but I understand why in this case that it's necessary. And to be honest, sometimes specific warnings lure me in to the book based on what I feel like reading. I think I just expected this book to be a little darker.
Rape fantasies in women are actually really common and I guess with the warnings I was hoping for a really aggressive taboo kind of read. But that wasn't the case. It was more like--fun role play, so for those of you into that, I say go for it! I just feel like the planning of the fantasies takes away from the fantasy itself. If you know you aren't in actual harm than I don't see why it can't be more realistic. Why do we watch scary movies or ride roller coasters? For the THRILL. We know we aren't actually going to get hurt, but it makes our adrenaline pump. That's what I needed in this book. It did get a little more aggressive towards the end in one scene, but I just felt that the kink factor was a little on the fluffy side, and the warning might be a little misleading. Yes, there is consensual-non-consensual sex but it is not how you would think. Maybe I'm a super freak but I just wanted it grittier and scarier, that's how I would imagine a real rape fantasy to be done. Overall it was a good read and I truly did enjoy it, and don't get me wrong-- Jonah is hot and so is the sex!
So as long as you know that it's not on the high spectrum of twisted or dark I say go for it! It was actually pretty entertaining. The ending could technically be classified as a cliffhanger but it's nothing major. This is not a standalone, Jonah and Vivienne's story continues in Book #2- Begging For it.
"Enough about me," I say as the weekend-night bustle flows around us – college kids heading to bars, stores open late to take advantage of the foot traffic, guitar music and drumbeats audible from the door of every club. "What about you? What made you decide to study earthquakes?"
"And volcanoes," he adds.
"Can't leave out the volcanoes," I say, and am rewarded with a small smile.
"Well, when I was about ten years old, my mother and stepfather took the whole family to Hawaii."
Stepfather, I note. Jonah could have no memory of his real father, and Carter Hale's been married to Jonah's mother for almost three decades. Most kids in that situation would wind up calling their stepfathers Dad. Not Jonah.
He continues, "Like most tourists in Hawaii, we went out to see the volcanoes. I hadn't imagined you could get that close to the lava flow. When I saw it – glowing orange with heat, pure liquid stone –" To my surprise, he grins. "I was ten, so I thought it was totally cool."
I laugh out loud. "So that's how you picked your scientific specialty? Because it was cool?"
"Any scientist who tells you something different is lying. If you're going to spend your entire life studying something, it needs to thrill you. Volcanoes and earthquakes thrilled me when I was a kid, and they still do. Even after all the studies and the dissertation and months of looking at nothing but seismograph readings. I get a charge out of it every time."
"Hey, they always say that if you do what you love, it doesn't feel like work," I say.
"Which is a crock." When I raise an eyebrow at Jonah, his smile regains some of the fierceness I know so well. "If you spend twelve hours in a row doing something – anything – it feels like work."
Laughing, I admit, "Okay, yes. The studio's my favorite place to be, but there are times when I feel like if I go in there one more time, I'll tear my hair out. Still, I'd rather go crazy making art than do anything else."
Jonah nods. "That's it exactly."
"So you get to spend your whole life chasing lava."
"And you'll spend yours making art."
"Yes and no," I say. "After graduation I'm hoping to go into museum work. Preserving old etchings, curating important pieces, even using original plates from centuries ago to make new prints."
He gives me a look. "You should do your own work. Not worry about taking care of someone else's."
"It's not either/or. I'll never stop creating my own work. But even if I set the entire art world on fire, it'll be years before I can support myself through my etchings alone – if ever. So there's going to be a day job for a while, probably a long while. Should I do something boring that sucks my soul away one day at a time? Or should I surround myself with some of the greatest etchings of all time, and help other people understand how amazing they are?"
After a moment, Jonah nods. "When you put it that way, okay. I see it."
Then his hand brushes against mine. At first I think he's drawing me aside as we go past a group of college kids drunkenly weaving along the sidewalk. After they pass, though, he adjusts his grip, twining our fingers together.
Jonah Marks has screwed me hotter and dirtier than any other man ever has – and yet my heart flutters like a girl's as he holds my hand for the first time.
Lilah Pace is a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling YA author. This is her first adult novel.