“The worry like paper cuts slicing away at our composure.”
That quote applies to the reader of this story as much as it does to the characters in it. AJ Rose captured me with the first two Power Exchange novels and I didn’t think she could get any deeper into the soul of me, but I guess I should have known better. Her characters and what she puts them through is not something you ‘just’ read. The writing is so visual it is almost possible to see the horror and the beauty, feel the pain and the pleasure, experience the fear and the love.
Consent is everything you might hope and expect a book to be and then some. While I’m reluctant to say anything about the story beyond what you can find in the blurb I do want to mention all the emotions this book put me through; worried, scared, petrified, horrified and disgusted formed one side of the spectrum. On the other side I found warmth, smiles, heart stopping beauty and heady arousal. There were times the emotions shifted so fast I couldn’t keep up with myself and had to put the book down just to figure out what exactly I was feeling. I rarely cry when I read, regardless of the story-line, but tears obscured the words on more than one occasion while reading Consent; sad tears, angry tears, frustrated tears and happy tears all came out to play. It was a heady experience.
This book is as much the continuation of a love story as it is a heart stopping thriller. In the midst of the nightmare Myah’s abduction creates, Ben and Gavin continue to take my breath away with their love and complete trust in and reliance on each other.
“You don’t have to martyr yourself. If you need to break, you break. I will catch you” – Ben to Gavin
“I know you will. But tell me something, Sir. When do you get to break? When does the weight of me plus the world get to be too much for you?” – Gavin to Ben.
We get to see several sides to Ben we haven’t seen before and as much as it hurt, it also made him even more of a hero than he already was in my eyes. The flipside of seeing Ben for once not in complete control was seeing Gavin taking it and giving his partner what he’d so often received in the past. Their relationship had been beautiful from the moment they first met in Power Exchange. In this book it was taken to glorious heights and shown in all its multi-coloured splendour.
“He’s your protector and you’re his purpose.” – Cole about Ben and Gavin.
As in the previous two books Ben and Gavin’s BDSM-relationship is beautiful beyond words. Fascinating as I find this sort of relationship, it is only when I observe the dynamic between Ben and Gavin that I feel it might be something I’d be interested in...provided of course I would have a Ben to submit to.
“(...) as he dragged me into a kiss so obscene, so obsessive, I wouldn’t have been surprised if his name stamped itself on my bones."
This story comes with trigger warnings and, believe me, it needs them. The horrors Myah is facing are indescribable and I’m not going to go into them in any detail here. Suffice to say I found it very hard to read Myah’s chapters. Don’t get me wrong, not because they weren’t good, quite the opposite, they were brilliant. It was the environment she found herself in, the things she had to endure and witness and the realism with which they were described, that made her part of the story so hard.
“The trust with which he looked at her as he nodded set all the remaining pieces of her heart aflame, reducing them to ash."
Every time a new Myah chapter started I found myself something to do, feed the dog, make another cup of coffee, have a quick look at Facebook; anything that would give me a chance to catch my breath and build up my courage before diving in again. Not going back to the story was never an option though and neither was skimming through these chapters. The need to know what would happen, how it was going to end and if a happy ending was even possible kept me turning the pages. The fact that I was able to do this proves how much I trust this author, although there were one or two moments I would have happily slapped her
Another reason I could not put the book down lies in AJ Rose’s masterful storytelling. She knows how to alternate the horrific scenes – those you’d prefer to read with your eyes closes or not read at all – with the wonderful beauty that is the relationship between Ben and Gavin, thus keeping the reader teetering on a precarious balance between disgust and delight.
Consent is the story that shows there is more to people than we could ever suspect. There is strength where you’d expect only weakness. Perseverance can be found in the midst of despair. Beauty may hide under a layer of dirt and sometimes people do the wrong thing for all the right reasons.
Consent is proof, if we needed it, of AJ Rose’s magnificence as a writer and storyteller. The beauty of her words, the depth of her characters and the power of her stories take my breath away every time I read one of her books. I’m in awe and forever grateful I found her books; my world would be a bleaker place without them.