My all-time favorite book of Beth Kery's is "Wicked Burn". It made such an impact on me, that I can't help but want to experience that feeling again. While her latest release, "Sweet Restraint" doesn't capture quite the level of intensity and emotion that WB does, it's still a powerful story, one that many readers will enjoy.
Shane Dominic loved Laura Vazquez 13 years ago, and he thought she loved him back...until the day she married another man. Hurt, angry, he's still never been able to forget her, or the intense passion they shared. Yet in all those years, the few times he's managed to cross paths with Laura, she is indifferent to him, cold and distainful. It drives him crazy that she's not as affected by him as he inevitably is by her, so much so that he cannot commit to another woman, not really.
But now Laura's husband is dead, believably by suicide but both Shane and Laura know better. Because Shane was investigating her husband, a Chicago cop gone bad, there is a lot of people watching Laura very carefully, and she has to keep a tight rein on her emotions lest she gives anything away. Knowing how dangerous these people are, she refuses to cooperate with Shane, afraid of what might happen if she does.
But Shane's not putting up with her dismissive attitude, not anymore. He's had to stay away from her for years, denying the powerful connection between them, knowing that another man, her husband, has had the right to touch her as only he once had. Laura refuses to trust him, to believe that he can protect her and keep her safe. He knows that she's hiding the truth from him, and it's imperative he takes down the rotten scum and the dirty cops corrupting the city. Only Laura can help him put away the bastards that have taken away so much....
So Shane decides the best way to get her to cooperate is to kidnap her and take her somewhere no one will find them, a place that will give him all the privacy he needs to bend her to his will. So before he can really think through what he's doing, Shane puts his plan into action, determined to break through her defenses and finally get Laura to trust him. But will his dominant ways push her further away?
Overall, I liked this story, and found that the tension between Shane and Laura was quite palpable. Despite all the years that have passed since their love affair, the desire they have for each other has not diminished one bit. In fact it may be as strong as it is because of the abrupt way their relationship ended.
Shane had essentially thrown himself into his career, earning several awards and commendations over the years, but behind it all was the driving force to put away the corrupt police officers who made a bad name out of a good city. Integral to this obsession was his determination to finally nail the one man who took away what was most precious to him: Laura. Arresting Huey Mays and putting him behind bars would go a long ways towards soothing the anger burning in his gut. I could understand Shane's frustration about losing the woman he loved to a thieving cop, and how this has driven him over the years.
I could also understand Laura building a wall around herself, and cutting herself off from others. She was married to a dangerous man, and it was safer, easier to pretend to not care, to look the other way, especially when she knows what these men are capable of. When her husband is found dead, her nightmare is still not over. Laura still has to be wary of the people her husband worked for, and knows she will never really be safe. Having Shane burst full-force into her life again is definitely not helping, not when she still has feelings for him, and knowing that he is her weakness terrifies her. She cannot let him break her.
Now obviously by the cover, and the book description, I knew this was going to be a Dom/sub story. How much of one I didn't know, but I like Beth's work and wanted to see what she does with the storyline. As I've mentioned in other reviews, I'm not a fan of extreme pain, humiliation, or withholding orgasm as punishment. I still have a hard time believing anyone finds these things arousing, but I've been told it is so, so I do try to be respectful of other people's turn-ons, kinks, fantasies, you know what I mean. I don't believe that missionary, and/or vanilla sex is the only way to go, because I've read many sexual scenarios, and have liked a lot of them, quite a bit. I think that as long as it's evident that both partners are having a good time then chances are I can accept it.
But here is a scene depicting one of my hot buttons: "I'm going to fuck you now, but it's going to be for me. You're not allowed to come. Do you understand, Laura?" Uh, NO I don't. I'm not Laura, but I do no understand, and I can't imagine I ever will. There were a few other instances in the story that got my back up, but that one was almost a wallbanger moment. Srsly, the book just about went flying at that point. Hate, hate, HATE that condescending attitude. I don't care what the motivation is, what the purpose is, because to me, there is just no justification for using sex to punish someone. It's that "breaking someone down to build them back up" that I have a difficult time coming to terms with. It's the "forcing someone until you get what you want from them" concept that escapes me, no matter if the intentions are good.
So during their time together in the cabin, Shane tells Laura he gets to decide what and when she eats, showers, sleeps, etc. It wasn't quite as extreme as he'd made it out to be, but the idea that he's in charge of her irritated me. Of course Laura doesn't give in completely (you go, girl!) and the chase is on.
But it's not just Shane that Laura has to deal with in the aftermath of her husband's death. It turns out that danger she was afraid of is very close indeed. But for once she's tired of running, of doing nothing. This time she's going to do something about it, even if it costs her her life.
So I did get past the domination thing to enjoy the rest of the story. And it's not that the sex between Shane and Laura isn't hot and exciting, because it is. Very. Once Shane gets over himself and seeks to pleasure Laura as much as himself, it was time to break out the fan and ice chips, because they were scorching together. It was just when he became the boss of her that I balked. I could even handle the spanking as long as it was evident that Laura was into it, but when he started denying her pleasure as a way of controlling her, then I begin to care less about the book and the characters. I now think I understand how readers who don't enjoy anal sex in their books feel, because to me, it's not a big deal, especially not anymore. But to someone who doesn't enjoy reading about anal sex (and I know a few readers like this), it has to be similar to how I feel reading the control thing.
So I got back on track with the story and followed it through to the end, where we see Shane and Laura together after being apart for so long. They have a lot of making up for lost time to do, not just in the bedroom but with their families as well. Despite all the anger and hurt and misunderstanding there is between them, when everything is eventually resolved, it's rather sweet and endearing to see them finally be allowed to be happy. So I got my happy ending, and that is a good thing.
Rating: ***3/4 out of *****