Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-269-3
Romantic Suspense, 2016
Nathan Harrowsford may be a hot cop by day, but in the evenings, in his basement, he is a very happy submissive to “Mistress Danielle”, a Domme-for-hire from Hooded Pleasures – a place you call up when you want some happy hour with paddles and chains. He loves these sessions, as they are also a way for him to exorcise the stress and the horrors of his day job.
Mistress Danielle is actually Jennifer Lowell, a receptionist by day. She is good at being a Domme, and Nathan is her favourite client. He’s also the most useful when a violent man from her past is released on parole. That fellow once attacked the hospital, looking for the wife he had beaten up, and Jen was the one who whacked him, broke his nose, and delayed him long enough for the cops to show up and arrest him. Now that he is out, she is worried that he would want payback. Not that she will open up to Nathan that easily – he is, after all, a client – but he senses that something is troubling her and he wants in. Okay, that sounds dirty, but that’s how men roll sometimes.
Strictly Yours is an excellent romance. While there is a strong BDSM element here, the number and the nature of the naughty scenes are not exactly those of erotica levels. That’s not to say that this is a bad thing, as the author makes up for the relatively not-so-hot steam levels with plenty of sizzling romantic chemistry. Jen has her vulnerable side, but this does not define her – she can take care of herself just fine, thanks. Nathan is capable and all action male outside the bedroom, but he is perfectly happy to play the sub without going all weird on me. I’ve read stories with male subs where the authors would try to prop the heroes’ apparent lack of masculinity by having them trying to undermine the Domme’s authority, but here, Nathan is perfectly confident and content in his role as a sub, and I find that very appealing, actually.
Because the author allows both characters to do their thing without trying too hard to stick to traditional gender roles, Jen and Nathan get to have an emotional rapport that feels real and right. They talk, share feelings, and do all those sentimental stuff like they really like and love one another, it’s lovely.
The downside is the suspense element. For most part, it involves these people just talking and going over things, and then, Jen and Nathan go back to have sex before the villain shows up for a “Surprise!” moment. Ugh, all that build up for nothing. While I really enjoy the romance aspect of this story, the suspense is such a let-down. The red herrings are more interesting than the tired, clichéd development actually takes place in the end, and the whole thing would actually be more suspenseful if any of those red herrings had been used as the real deal.
Still, this is a solid read if one doesn’t mind the disappointing suspense stuff. It is one of the most romantic things I’ve read in a while, so here are some well-deserved four oogies from me.