Bennet McKay is hiding a part of himself from women, his family and anyone he thinks will find him to be in need or intervention. Used to being the peacemaker and blending into the background, he doesn’t buck the family politics. He finds comfort and acceptance The Rawhide Club as a Dom, but he hasn’t found a sub he wants to take on long-term or even to out his secret.
Ainsley Hamilton is moving on after a bad divorce where she wanted to strike out sexually and spice up her marriage. After a bad incident, she leaves her husband and finds a new job in the same town as Ben. Hooking up with her friend Layla, she goes to The Rawhide Club posing as a Domme to watch and find out if BDSM is something she is into.
Ben sees the woman wearing a bad disguise and is instantly drawn to her. In one weekend, they both find out they desire each other more than they think is practical, making plans to meet the next weekend. Ben is sure she won’t show up and Ainsley isn’t sure she will show up.
Meeting up at the bank that Ainsley is working the manager of is purely and accident, but the sparks fly and Ainsley agrees to be trained by Ben for the course of one month as a sub to his Dom. But after one month will either of them be able to give each other up?
Let me start with Ben. He is the most complex character in this book with a ton of good qualities but a ton of bad actions that really made me detest him and love him at the same time. Taking his place as Dom seriously, he praises and guides Ainsley thorough a big part of the book. Then she does and says something that crosses a line and he decides to punish her. I agreed in a BDSM relationship she crossed the line here, but what he does to punish her was beyond what a sub should ever have to take, especially where the relationship is not an objectivity relationship. This isn’t a 24×7 program, nor is it a Master/slave relationship, so what he does crosses so many lines that I actually hated him afterwards. He does feel remorse, apologizes and moves on. So Ainsley also has a part to play in this scene going so wrong. One, she never says her safe word. That totally ticked me off. She should have screamed it. Instead when it is over, she cries, and leaves. Two, when Ben comes to apologize, she forgives him and lets him off the hook. He did prove his point with the punishment, but it was way to harsh and he knew it.
Moving onto the next point of why I disliked Ben. He lied. Several times. One paramount part of BDSM is trust and being truthful to each other, no matter the situation. Ben applies for a loan and lies to Ainsley for what it is for. Not that it had any bearing on the loan itself, he just flat-out lied because he didn’t want anyone finding out he was getting a loan. Another part of the book she asks something and it says right there in the book blah, blah blah, he lied. What????!??!?!?!?
How could the author make you love so many aspects of Ben and then just throw out two very important issues that cause relationships to end very easily and just brush it under the rug?
Then there is Ainsley…I understand if you are into BDSM, you don’t really don’t want people to know especially at work. But she kept throwing out to Ben she wasn’t a sub and he kept showing her she was. She constantly throws that up as a wall between them. The other thing I didn’t care for was how she kept forgiving Ben in essence becoming the door mat to his Dom. This totally didn’t fly for me.
BDSM books are great books for as much the psychological impact as much as the physical. Yes, I expect there to be drama or some mess up the Dom makes, because not all Doms are perfect…in fact they all make mistakes. But it is how the mistakes are handled and how the sub also handles it that make the stories good. Brushing things off just doesn’t fly in my book.
So what was likable about the characters? Besides the two blaring problems with Ben, he is a wonderful guy. He is a great neighbor who gets screwed. He isn’t poor but he isn’t at the top of the McKay pyramid and seems to be ok for the most part about it, but even that does come to a head. Being the middle brother seems to cause him problems. He isn’t the apple of his daddy’s eye like Quinn and he isn’t the famous rodeo hero like Chase. Then add-on the long-lost Gavin, it seems like Ben blends into the background. What I found admirable to about him was helping to found the BDSM club The Rawhide Club. He helped to draft the rules and processes of the club. Instead of continuing to run from the dominant male he is, he embraces it at the club and keeps himself on the consensual side. He watches a sub and tries to give her what she needs instead of just doing what he wants. If he hadn’t screwed up so bad, I would have adored him.
Ainsley…I just didn’t find anything that wowed me about her. She was a forgettable character. On top of that, I resented how she let Ben off the hook and didn’t use her safe word. That shows a lack of understanding of what a sub is. Though she was learning, she does sass him, so she could have very well called him on what he did and she doesn’t. The only briefly talk about it. If both felt it was wrong, there should have been a lot of talk, but again that was a quirk of Ainsley’s, not talking.
Truthfully, I think Ainsley and Ben are perfect for each other. Unfortunately, I have read book 1 and 12 in this series and haven’t like either book. I hear nothing but good things about the series, so maybe I should jump into the middle of the series? Guess that is something to think about.