Hmmmm...what to say? What to say....
On the one hand I have to say that this book is very well written, sometime wry, sometimes brutal, but always interesting and engaging. It speaks a lot for this author's writing ability to be able to draw me in and keep me reading on a subject that I am not 100% comfortable with. I just can never read about the submissive half of a D/s relationship without wanting to take them into a corner and lecture them about self-empowerment and not letting others control their destiny. Yeah, yeah, I know there is a whole psychology around this power dynamic that is supposed to be grant both sides agency, but that is utterly lost on me when I read a book like this.
And therein lies the reason this book gets three stars. I've only read a handful of other BDSM books but the power dynamic didn't seem so lopsided. Maybe I was more put off with this one because I thought Jeremy didn't seem to be very careful of Nell. At the very first I disliked him. He deliberately engineered it so that she lost her job and lost her home so that she would be an extremely vulnerable position when he made his proposition to her. This felt very shitty to me. The power dynamic was forced on her before
she agreed to become his sub.
Later he often said or did things that made me feel that he didn't think of her as a person at all, not even a sub, but rather a object, a nonentity. In action, he demonstrated very little respect for her. Although on the inside he was a seething mass of different emotions. It was his inner dialogue and the glimpses we got of his own vulnerabilities that saved the character from being a total asshole.
Nell was a much more sympathetic character. I could've easily been exasperated with her and wonder why she let herself be treated as she did. But her inner dialogue was really revealing and explored a real strength of character. I may not have agreed with her, but I liked her.
I could buy Nell and Jeremy falling in love given how they inner-talked. But it felt a bit abrupt toward the end the way it all occurred.
Overall, a good read.