Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review: Asking for It by Lilah Pace

Asking for It by Lilah Pace
Series: Asking for It, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Erotic Contemporary
ISBN: 9780425279519
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Lilah Pace Reading Order

Graduate student Vivienne Charles is afraid of her own desires—ashamed to admit that she fantasizes about being taken by force, by a man who will claim her completely and without mercy. When the magnetic, mysterious Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes an offer that stuns her: they will remain near-strangers to each other, and meet in secret so that he can fulfill her fantasy.

Their arrangement is twisted. The sex is incredible. And—despite their attempts to stay apart—soon their emotions are bound together as tightly as the rope around Vivienne’s wrists. But the secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker...

Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.

Asking for It isn’t for the faint of heart. It tests the limits, of its hero and heroine and of its readers. It isn’t light, it isn’t easy, and it won’t make you swoon, but it is one hell of a story. Lilah Pace has crafted an intriguing, smart story of two broken souls finding what they need in one another and the sexual and psychological journey that follows. I wouldn’t call it a romance, not yet, but there is the beginning of a love story that is truly powerful.

Vivienne is a rape survivor who fantasizes about being taken by force. She’s disgusted by herself, her fantasies, but she also realizes that she can’t control them. When she meets Jonah, a sexy earth sciences professor whose needs fit her own, it seems almost too good to be true. What happens is a shattering journey of sexual exploration. Though Jonah and Vivienne agree to remain mostly strangers, it soon becomes impossible as their encounters lead to emotional investment. The fantasies they enact are harsh, but they’re also followed by true tenderness, more so as the story goes on. One of the things I loved most about Asking for It is the amount of care Jonah and Vivienne take before they become involved. Every step of the way they are clear and careful in their wants and expectations. There’s absolutely zero doubt that their relationship is safe, sane, and consensual. Though I have read plenty of erotica and BDSM romance that is clear about all three of those factors, Ms. Pace definitely tops anything else I ever read in this respect and does so incredibly smoothly, leaving no room for concern when such highly volatile fantasies are involved. I loved this because not only are we sure Vivienne is safe, Ms. Pace focuses on ensuring Jonah’s safety as well. Both of them have their limits, and that comes into play.

Both Vivienne and Jonah carry deep emotional scars, but in Asking for It we mostly explore Vivienne’s past. Vivienne was raped as a teenager, and though it doesn’t define her (Ms. Pace makes both Vivienne and Jonah three-dimensional characters with lives, jobs, and friends that are fully integrated into their story) it does heavily impact her feelings toward herself and her intimate needs. Vivienne’s personal journey of recovery, of addressing not only her rape but the betrayal that followed, is powerfully emotional. I loved seeing her work on the healing process every bit as much as her relationship with Jonah. As for Jonah, we only begin to glimpse his history in Asking for It and I cannot wait to learn more in the sequel, Begging for It.

Asking for It is the first part of Vivienne and Jonah’s story, so it’s only fair to warn readers that the book doesn’t feel complete – I definitely finished it wanting to dive right into Begging for It. That being said, I highly recommend Asking for It, though not for everyone. Ms. Pace takes great care and shows a deep respect and sensitivity toward her characters and the subjects she handles, but there are depictions and discussions of rape (to be clear, NOT perpetrated by Jonah). This book could prove a trigger for some readers, so this is one case where the reader advisory should definitely not be taken lightly.

Asking for It is raw, emotional, and deeply compelling. Its hero and heroine are strong, battered souls who will grab your heart and not let go. I devoured the book in one day, unable to rest until I got to the very last page, and still I look forward to more. Vivienne and Jonah’s journey isn’t an easy one, but there I have no doubt that something beautiful will come out of the darkness and the hope and promise in the story left me feeling well satisfied until I can continue their journey in Begging for It.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.