RELEASE ME Another attempt to capitalize on The FIFTY SHADES Algorithm

by J. Kenner
Series: Stark #1
Published by Bantam, Random House Genres: BDSM, contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Source: Publisher

This review contains language and references some may find objectionable.

J. Kenner

Random House Bantam Imprint
January 1, 2013
352 Pages
Paperback, E-Book, Audiobook
Publisher loaned e-galley via
No remuneration exchanged and all opinions expressed herein are my own unless otherwise noted.

For fans of Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You comes an erotic, emotionally charged romance between a powerful man who’s never heard “no” and a fiery woman who says “yes” on her own terms.
He was the one man I couldn’t avoid. And the one man I couldn’t resist.

Damien Stark could have his way with any woman. He was sexy, confident, and commanding: Anything he wanted, he got. And what he wanted was me.

Our attraction was unmistakable, almost beyond control, but as much as I ached to be his, I feared the pressures of his demands. Submitting to Damien meant I had to bare the darkest truth about my past—and risk breaking us apart.

But Damien was haunted, too. And as our passion came to obsess us both, his secrets threatened to destroy him—and us—forever.

Release Me is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences. Random House


Often, when a mega-best-seller series like the TWILIGHT SAGA or FIFTY SHADES comes out people eat them up and then are lost in the stacks seeking something “like” the books they just finished.  Friends and family often ask me “What should I read next?” And it’s something that book sellers are trying to figure out as well.

It’s tricky question for me to answer; my response is based on what the friend tells me they liked, or what I think they liked. If they were into the bondage in FIFTY SHADES but didn’t care for the little girl lost bit, I might send them to Candace Blevins. If they want the BDSM and emotive content I may very well send them to Joey W. Hill. If they were grooving on the money and power combined with a difficult past I might send them over to Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series.

Well, now there’s another choice for everything but the deep emotive content: RELEASE ME.  Here’s the deal, If I took  Fifty Shades, Bared to You and If I Were You and threw them into a blender I might end up with this book.  This story gave me the feeling that Bantam — the entire industry even,  has decided on a BDSM algorithm and has accounted for all the variables.  The music industry did this a few years ago with frightening accuracy.

Here are the variables I deduce are being employed in this industry algorithm:

  • A powerful Billionaire who didn’t finish traditional schooling; a difficult childhood — difficult or self-absorbed parent;
  • A woman, often from a monied family, trying to make it on her own, emotional trauma: bulemia, cutting or something like that;
  • Woman is an innocent or naive, or has some kind of sexual issue;
  • SECRETS (woooo);
  • A threatening element that forces the powerful wunderkind billionaire to take action;
  • Invariably, a best friend;
  • A powerful attraction, a need for control, varying degrees of of “Kinky fuckery.”

It’s not that this is a bad book, it’s actually fun, and has been well edited. It’s just that I have pretty much already read it. Several times. This year. Sure each had a different title and author, and the characters had a few quirks; there were some different twists in each one, but altogether I thought I knew what to expect going in. With this book, I was not at all disappointed in that expectation.  It’s kind of a shame that authors are getting causght up in the craze.

Former beauty queen ingenue, Nikki, cut off from family money is struggling to make it in the big city in.  She tells us she has a “double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.” So, we know she must be bright.

Surprise! A billionaire finds her, of all the women in the world the one he simply must have. He has deep, dark secrets. She has a bitchy mother. There’s a potential scandal brewing, and lots of hot sex with a little bondage and punishment.

The characters are unsubstantiated rumors of themselves. She’s so strong and smart, but is unable to figure out the creepy quotient? He’s brilliant as all get out but the only word he knows for female genitalia is “cunt?” Her best friend, a guy, tells her stuff about Damian but Damian always has a logical explanation, so she ends up discounting her friend’s information.

The ending is bizarre, and abrupt; as if the writer forgot to include the last chapter. The message is that money can indeed buy you everything.

Good grammar and technical editing are evident. Not great literature, or even erotica, or steamy romance. But for a fast and undemanding read with titillating content it’s not a bad choice. If you hadn’t read the other books I mentioned you’ll be none the wiser.

Out Jan. 1, 2013 PRE-ORDERS available

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