Why I read it: I enjoy this author’s books so I bought it on release day. Charlotte Stein and I follow each other on Twitter and chat occasionally. I think she’s lovely. If I didn’t think I could be objective about her books, I wouldn’t review them. But readers may wish to take the foregoing into account.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) It was just a prank I didn’t want to be a part of. I never meant to hurt anyone, least of all Johann Weir. You wouldn’t know that he sells literature for a living. He has these wild eyes—eyes that light something up in me—and he must be twice as big as I am, with strong, warm hands. Hands I try not to imagine everywhere.
He scares me. And thrills me.
But now the deed is done, and I have to face the consequences. He says he just wants to hold me here until the police come, but it’s been hours and I’m still here.
Chained to a pipe in his back room like a prisoner.
The only person I have to talk to is Johann, and I tell him dark, shameful secrets—secrets that involve the metal around my wrist and him standing over me. But I can’t stop. I need him to know everything. I need him.
Johann has his own secrets—ones he wants to tell me too. And more than anything, I want to listen. And maybe, before he sends me away, he’ll punish me.
Just a little.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): As is most often the case with auto-buy authors, I didn’t bother reading the blurb. When I saw someone excitedly tweeting about it, I took a skim and saw “chained to a pipe like a prisoner” and thought – oh, this must be some sort of sexy game. Um, not so much. The book begins in a dark place. It doesn’t stay there long and Han’s actions after his initial blunder (blunder is not the right word – what he did was way worse than a blunder), are honourable. It is also true to say that all of the sexual contact in this book is entirely consensual. In fact, Rosie is the aggressor in the sense that she has to actively persuade Han to do anything at all. Once the doing gets going, the tables turn, but Han does not make a sexual move without Rosie’s enthusiastic consent. Which is all to the good because his first actions did not make me warm to him. Picking up a woman and chaining her in your basement is not cool. It is so far beyond not cool, I can’t fully describe it. Yes, he initially isn’t thinking clearly and yes, his plan (such as it was) was merely to “restrain” her until the police arrived (her friend was about to set fire to precious first editions in his antiquarian bookshop and Rosie was ‘helping’ her by not actively stopping her) but, let me make this clear: it is not cool to pick up a woman and chain her in your basement*.