CAUGHT UP IN YOU
by Roni Loren
Penguin/Berkley Trade August 28, 2013
Trade Paperback/e-Book formats 352 Pages
Fiction, Contemporary Romance/Erotica, BDSM
E-Galley provided by Penguin via NetGalley for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and the opinions presented here are my own except as noted.
The girl who has spent her life running is about to be caught . . . by love
After a shaky past, Kelsey LeBreck’s future is looking good. She’s been saving money for culinary school with her earnings from The Ranch, a private BDSM resort. Even better, she’s landed a day job where she can practice baking and flirt with her favorite customer. However, having secret fantasies about Wyatt Austin is where it has to end. If there’s one thing Kelsey knows can derail her, it’s a relationship. But when a danger from her past threatens to steal her fresh start, the intense executive may be the only one who can help her.
Wyatt doesn’t have room on his agenda for dating, but something about the pretty young waitress stirs desires he thought were long buried. So when he needs someone to pose as his girlfriend at an important business retreat and finds out Kelsey needs to go off the grid for a while, he can’t resist making her an offer. Soon, Kelsey learns that Wyatt’s power in the boardroom is no match for his power in the bedroom, and she wonders if her heart will survive. Because Wyatt Austin is a man who gets what he wants, and now he wants her. Penguin Book Page
I read the first book I knew of in this series, CRASH INTO YOU, sometime last year, and I liked it. This book was even better and once I realized (duh) the female love interest, Kelsey, was the sister of CRASH INTO YOU’s heroine it made a lot more sense. This story takes place around poverty, wealth and BDSM. But the BDSM is pretty moderate, the sex is scorching and what it’s really about is love overcoming obstacles: class (ie. wealth vs poverty), the past, pre-exisiting beliefs about oneself or another, and hypocrisy.
The secondary characters in this book display a lot of hypocrisy: people thinking their money makes them “better” than others. And, Kelsey takes that projection of others’ beliefs and wears it like a shroud. And Wyatt, who looks to have everything is also the victim of projections and misplaced guilt. And that this occurs in a place where much of the money derives from oil, technology and maybe hospitality, this is actually hysterical. Not that “old money” makes one better either, but new wealth is not so far removed from it’s origins and the newly well-off need to remember that. And even more important than the money, education and status issues, people with money may believe their behaviors and addictions are somehow more refined by virtue of their cash. The person sitting next to you at a big corporate retreat may be a philandering alcoholic who frequent strip clubs, but s/he would look down on the person in the next chair because they were an recovering addict and an ex-stripper like Kelsey.
This resonates with me and is a great example of using erotic romance as a foil for other issues the same way that any other type of fiction does, the same way vampire and shifter novels look at people’s attitudes about race and empathy. It’s easy to look at other people in tougher positions and think it is their poor decision making skills that have put them in the position they are in. Our lot in life depends on a lot of factors: I say it’s luck and serendipity and maybe a few good decisions, others say there but for the grace of God. It is awesome when a book makes me think this hard and reminds me that I am very, very lucky. VERY LUCKY. I think we can overcome our pasts − sometimes despite them and other times because of them, but others can stand in our way and make it tougher. What makes one person prevail and another fall?
What do you think — does the past make us or break us? Do you think being in an alternative lifestyle would make it harder?
Oh, yes, back to the book: It moves fast and has some hot hook ups preceded by a lot of tension and some gallantry. I read it late into the night and even as my eyelids were involuntarily accepting my brains invitation to sleep. The sex is a natural part of the story and the story doesn’t just exist for the hook ups. it is actually intimate and not just banging. The language is better than I often see with not too many instances of the hated “c” word.
The characters are pretty much who I expect them to be — no big surprises or unexpected personalities. Noble Dom hero, fights for the right, protects what his and is anti crime. Recovering addict, ex-stripper, rape-survivor with a submissive heavy switch. No deviations for the “deviants,” but they are likeable enough. And a rape survvor who can willingly be submissive in a relationship — that is pretty big.
This is part of a series, but can almost stand on it’s own. It’s a good read because it’s sexy — hot and nasty sexy, but also has some sweet moments and emotional content. And, it made me consider other people in hard situations and think about my world-view. So I highly recommend it for people who like sexy books with emotional content.