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The Way She Reads

My thoughts on everything I read; good, bad and indifferent.
Slave - Sherri Hayes I received this book from NetGalley and would have rated it 4.5 stars if that were possible.

Stephan Coleman is single but has been a Dominant for five years when a friend of his tells him about a girl he has met at a party. The girl was with a man named Ian and obviously unhappy and scared.
Like Stephan, Ian is a man who likes to dominate his women, but unlike Stephan he doesn’t believe in voluntary submission; Ian’s women are his slaves.
Shocked by what he hears, Stephan contacts Ian and arranges a meeting. As soon as he lays eyes on the young woman named Brianna who is obviously very scared, he offers to buy her off Ian; an offer which is accepted.
Bringing Brianna Home, Stephan finds himself in a situation he isn’t prepared for. While Brianna is completely submissive she is also petrified of him and the situation she finds herself in. All Stephan can think to do is try and win her confidence, show her that he won’t force her to do anything she is uncomfortable with and help her rebuild her life.
Eighteen year old Brianna doesn’t know what to make of the situation she finds herself in after Stephan buys her. After ten months of being abused and misused she is scared and prone to panic attacks whenever memories of her earlier life come back to her. And she is unsure as to what exactly her position in relation to Stephan is. While she calls him “master” and follows his orders, he doesn’t act the way she expects him to. He doesn’t hurt her, doesn’t force himself upon her and keeps on telling her that she is safe. And while she would love to believe that she has found safety, she knows she’s just a slave and not worth anything. After all, didn’t Stephan buy her?
Will Stephan be able to convince Brianna that she has choices and is safe? And when he does, will she stay with him or will she decide to leave him? Because Stephan has fallen in love with vulnerable Brianna and wants nothing more than a relationship with her, but he also loves her enough to not demand anything she isn’t willing to give.

This story proves that a person should never judge a book by its cover or its title for that matter. When I requested this book I was fully expecting an erotic tale with a BDSM theme. And while BDSM is exactly the lifestyle Stephan has chosen for himself there is no sex, of any description, in this book. The two main characters don’t get anymore intimate than holding hands and the occasional kiss.
This is a book about a young woman who has been broken by a hateful and despicable man and the lengths another man is willing to go to in order to make her whole again. As such this is a beautiful story. Who wouldn’t want a man like Stephan - a man willing to do just about anything to make them happy - in their life?
This is also a very well written story. Both Brianna’s fear and Stephan’s heartfelt care are palatable. While there where times when I found myself wondering whether Stephan’s approach to the situation was the right one, I was never in doubt that his intentions were anything but good.
This is an emotional read. It is impossible not to have your heart break at least a little bit for Brianna. The emotional and physical abuse she’s been subjected to should not be experienced by anyone, ever. And the strength she tries to summon in order to live up to Stephan’s expectations is both inspirational and devastating. And reading Stephan’s side of the story is just as emotional; his emerging feelings for Brianna, his confusion over these new to him feelings and his wish to only do what is right for her, despite what that might mean for him is wonderful.
Because this story is told by both main characters in turn the reader gets a great insight into what it going on inside them. It does mean that a few scenes are described twice, but since both perspectives are so very different it never feels repetitive.
I was captivated by this story and am very glad that I already have the sequel downloaded for reading later this month.