Copy received from Little Brown through Book Geeks
Natalie Bowen is in her twenties and a very successful young lady. The magazine aimed at single women like herself working high-powered jobs she started only 18 months ago is a huge success and although she works long hours, her working life is very satisfactory. The same can’t be said for her private life though. While Natalie has no problem attracting men with her blond hair and slim well-built body, relationships, while sexually satisfying, never seem to last. When a friend tells her about an exclusive weekend retreat that specialises in teaching people with control issues how to experience unknown pleasure by relinquishing control to others, Natalie is intrigued. While she can’t imagine that anybody could know more about how to bring her pleasure than she does herself she is very curious about what such a weekend might bring her. It isn’t long before Natalie finds herself on the way to The Haven to start the first of what will be two weekend retreats.
Her tutor over the two weekends is Simon, a handsome man and hard task-master. As soon as he meets Natalie, Simon lets her know that he isn’t sure that the retreat will be able to help her. It is quite possible that she’s too set in her dominant ways to learn the joys of submission. And Natalie secretly has to admit that he may well be right; submission is not a word that features in her vocabulary, let alone in her life. But, Natalie feels a deep attraction to Simon and is too proud to admit that booking herself into The Haven might have been a mistake. And so the first weekend and Natalie’s road of discovery commence. And while it will be a rocky road, it may well turn out to be the way to unknown and unexpected pleasures.
This book has an interesting premise. The idea of powerful men and women getting so engrossed in their own greatness that it gets in the way of having a satisfying relationship is, I guess, realistic enough. And the solution provided in this book is both kinky and fascinating. The retreat, as described in this book, is of course a fantasy, but I like the idea of showing (sexually) selfish people the pleasure that can be found in submitting to somebody else’s wishes every now and again. I also liked that the author doesn’t have her characters completely change their habits or characters in the process. Too often in (erotic) romance novels one or more of the characters go through a complete change over the course of the story in a way that would never happen in the real work. Thankfully Marina Anderson didn’t fall into that trap. While her main character certainly learns a lot about herself and about pleasure, she doesn’t change into a different person over the course of the 327 pages in this book.
On the other hand, I could have done with a bit more insight into and development of the characters in this book. While the reader does get to share Natalie’s emotions we only ever seem to skim the surface of what is going on inside her. About Simon’s thoughts and feelings the reader is kept almost completely in the dark. And as long as Natalie is second guessing what is going on inside his head it is fair enough that the reader knows as little as she does. It is disappointing though that by the end of the story I had no better idea of his motivations then I did at the start. I realise that this is a book of erotic fiction and that therefore a lot of emphasis is put on the sexual relations between the characters. However I do not feel that this should stand in the way of proper character development anymore than a mystery should only describe the murders in detail.
Back to a more positive note; this book was very easy to read. The story flows and has not a single dead moment. The pages almost turn themselves as the reader hurries on to find out what Natalie will be subjected to next and how she is going to react to it.
Overall I would call this a fun and original read for anybody who is interested in erotica. At the same time I would warn anybody who doesn’t like their sex explicit away from this book; absolutely nothing is left to the reader’s imagination. And finally, despite what it says on the cover, this book is nothing like the Fifty Shades books except that it features a lot of sex.