Every passion has its price . . .
Journalist Sophie Ryder has been following Emery Lockwood’s story since she was a little girl. There has always been something in his haunted eyes that she couldn’t resist and now, when she’s certain he holds the key to solving a string of kidnappings, she’ll do anything to speak to him. Even if it means venturing deep into the seductive world of the Gilded Cuff, a luxurious BDSM club on Long Island’s Gold Coast and Emery’s personal playground.
From the moment Sophie enters his shadowy, sensual domain, Emery Lockwood knows this tantalizing new little sub was meant to belong to him. However, Sophie wants more from Emery than just pleasure . . . she wants his past. And that is something he isn’t willing to give—no matter who is asking. But every moment he spends with Sophie, Emery feels his control slipping and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he surrenders to her heart, body, and soul.
He slid his hands up to her wrists then connected his palms to hers. She responded, lacing her fingers through his, squeezing gently. His throat tightened and his eyes burned.
The simple connection—so sweet, so innocent—bound him to her, like a shimmering web spun between them, unbreakable and inescapable. He lifted his head a few inches, needing to see her eyes.
They were luminous, her lashes at half-mast. He was lost. A world of unimaginable beauty existed in the crescent silver of her dreamy gaze. He felt like a man from the ancient world, gazing north at the distant star Polaris, finding his way home by the loyal light that shone there. She saw him, every part of her, her light penetrating the shadows stretching out from his soul. He was open, laid bare before her, a man prostrate before a goddess.
Completely and totally vulnerable.
A tremble racked his shoulders, his muscles clenching and tensing. Then pleasure swept through him. He was in control of this luscious, precious woman. He could take her, give her such ecstasy she’d never recover.
Sophie licked her lips, her breath slightly uneven.
“You have to stop doing that,” she whispered in all seriousness, her nose wrinkling just a little.
He cocked a brow. “Doing what?”
“Kissing me like that.”
“You don’t like the way I kiss?” Her body told him otherwise as he shifted above her, the movement pressing his groin into hers. She raised her hips, seeking him, but the sheet and their clothes kept them worlds apart.
“I like it too much. That’s the problem.”
He rolled his hips again, reveling in the little hiss of frustration she made.
“What else do you like too much?” He dropped his head to her neck and nibbled on the underside of her throat. She shook slightly, her pulse leaping beneath his tongue. She was incredibly responsive and her inexperience made her reactions raw and pure. It was perfect. She was perfect.
“That. That’s definitely too good.” Her response was barely more than a breathless rush of words.
“Good. My sub has pleased me with her honest responses. You’ve earned a reward.” He eased off her and lay down beside her on the bed.
Sophie’s hands fluttered to her wrists, making contact with the gold cuffs.
“What are these?”
Sophie’s lips twitched, even as she narrowed her eyes. “Yeah, I can see that. Why’d you put them on me?”
He propped himself up on one elbow and drew a finger along the sensitive skin of her inner right wrist by the cuff.
“It’s part of our bargain. The cuffs remind you that you are mine.”
“Okay, so what’s my reward for allowing this?”
“You didn’t allow it, Sophie. You surrendered to it. Never think being a submissive is about allowing your dom to do something. You surrender. You give me your power.” Emery cupped her face and held her gaze, forcing her to confront his domination and accept it.
Her eyes—still wild, still free—darkened like a waning moon. “I surrender.”
Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. Lauren loves hearing from readers and can be reached through her website www.laurensmithbooks.com.
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I’ve read erotic, BDSM stories in the past. Obviously the example most people think of is Fifty Shades of Grey, but I think a true example of this genre is Maya Bank’s series. I don’t consider myself an expert on BDSM by any stretch of the imagination, but reading enough about certain proclivities has provided an education. It’s not always my favourite genre, as I like to use my imagination when reading. Not to get too personal here, but the domination part is exciting, but being hit or hurt has zero appeal for me. While I would never use the term ‘mommy porn’, there is a very strong reason that sex scenes interest scores of readers. Who hasn’t imagined that they were the woman being held and ravished in the hero’s arms?
Even though it isn’t my first choice of genre, I was very excited to read this book as I really like Lauren Smith’s writing. I figured that if anyone could make me enjoy this genre, it would be Lauren. This book definitely has elements of BDSM in it, but it so much more than that. It’s also a love story, a mystery and a thriller. This book is not just sex scenes one after another, but a fast paced story about two people who have been deeply damaged by the loss and fear from abduction.
We meet Sophie as she is infiltrating the Gilded Cuff sex club in order to meet Emery. She wants to interview him and hopefully help him solve the twenty-five year old mystery of who kidnapped him and his twin brother, Fenn. She has precious little sexual experience, which makes her appearance at a sex club almost laughable. She encounters Emery and is mesmerized by his power and command. Sophie was a complex character. At times she could seem young and almost naïve, yet she is very intelligent and thoughtful. Sophie submits to Emery’s dominance, but she could hold her own. Sophie is plagued by a traumatic past and she feels a bond with Emery. I felt Sophie was so brave to continually face her demons and work as an investigative reporter digging into cold cases. I also really loved that Sophie wasn’t tall, skinny and perfect. She has curves and has a tummy – what could be better to read about a woman who is like the average female and yet she still gets to go on this amazing and exciting adventure?
Emery is the amazing adventure that Sophie gets to embark upon. Emery is part of one of the wealthiest families on the East Coast. Along with his twin brother, they were kidnapped and kept hidden away for months until Emery could get away. His brother forced him to flee and Emery left him behind to die. The trauma of being kidnapped, deprived and the loss of his brother has made Emery virtually a social recluse. He is the president of his company and travels when necessary, but other than visits to his BDSM club, he remains in the grand, old home Lockwood. Emery is a Dom and wants Sophie as his submissive. Their relationship and feelings develop very fast. I liked that Emery had a heart. He wasn’t a cruel Dom and he had a wicked sense of humor. To me, his Dom sensibilities were the things you want in a man – protectiveness, concern, care and interest.
For a story that revolves around a Dom and Sub relationship, it took a while to get to see Emery and Sophie do the deed. It’s almost like a skilled lover – brings you to the brink over and over again without release. The story starts off hot and heavy and then the action cools down to move the plot along (which is great as many books in the genre ignore well developed plot), then it spikes again. Hot and needy you just want these characters to get each other off. The tantalizing build up between the two almost had me screaming in frustration! Which I am sure is the intention and it was so well done.
The other element of this book that I really liked was the history and description of Long Island. The old mansions are described, along with the neglect and razing the twenty-first century has wrought. One of my very, very favourite movies is the 1988 version of Clue. It takes place in a beautiful, old mansion on the East Coast. For some reason, every time the mansions were mentioned, it was what came to my mind. It almost seemed like the Lockwood Mansion was another character in the story because of its history, connection to Emery’s tragedy and subsequent seclusion.
The mystery of who kidnapped Fenn and Emery is braided through the story. While it is the main plot line and what brings Emery and Sophie together, their relationship is a major portion of the story. The kidnapper and killer are still out there and once Sophie opens old wounds, strange things begin to happen again. I enjoyed this part of the book. It was thrilling to see Sophie and Emery deal with the danger and of course it only heightened Emery’s protectiveness. I didn’t see all the twists and turns coming, although I think I figured out who was responsible for the kidnapping. There is a great twist at the end of the book which sets the plot for the next book in the series.
A great start to a new series for Lauren Smith and lucky for the readers that we get to go on this great journey with the new characters and world she has created.