One day I was a high school teacher on summer break, leading a relatively uneventful but happy life. Or so I told myself. Later, I’d question that, as I would question pretty much everything I knew about me, my relationships, and my desires. It all began when my neighbor thrust a key to a storage unit at me. She’d bought it to make extra money after watching some storage auction show. Now she was on her way to the airport to elope with a man she barely knew, and she needed me to clear out the unit before the lease expires.
Soon, I was standing inside a small room that held the intimate details of another woman’s life, feeling uncomfortable, as if I was invading her privacy. Why had she let these items so neatly packed, possessions that she clearly cared about deeply, be lost at an auction? Driven to find out by some unnamed force, I began to dig, to discover this woman’s life, and yes, read her journals—-dark, erotic journals that I had no business reading. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I read on obsessively, living out fantasies through her words that I’d never dare experience on my own, compelled by the three men in her life, none of whom had names. I read onward until the last terrifying dark entry left me certain that something had happened to this woman. I had to find her and be sure she was okay.
Before long, I was taking her job for the summer at the art gallery, living her life, and she was nowhere to be found. I was becoming someone I didn’t know. I was becoming her.
The dark, passion it becomes…Now, I am working at a prestigious gallery, where I have always dreamed of being, and I’ve been delivered to the doorstep of several men, all of which I envision as one I’ve read about in the journal. But there is one man that will call to me, that will awaken me in ways I never believed possible. That man is the ruggedly sexy artist, Chris Merit, who wants to paint me. He is rich and famous, and dark in ways I shouldn’t find intriguing, but I do. I so do. I don’t understand why his dark side appeals to me, but the attraction between us is rich with velvety promises of satisfaction. Chris is dark, and so are his desires, but I cannot turn away. He is damaged beneath his confident good looks and need for control, and in some way, I feel he needs me. I need him.
All I know for certain is that he knows me like I don’t even know me, and he says I know him. Still, I keep asking myself — do I know him? Did he know her, the journal writer, and where is she? And why doesn’t it seem to matter anymore? There is just him and me, and the burn for more.
The blurb for this book is quite extensive but it sets up the overview of this book very well. It is a very clever story that operates on several different levels. First, Sara is drawn into Rebecca’s life through a friend who makes extra money buying abandoned storage unit contents and selling the items for big profits. So the first area of crisis in this story is Sara’s concern about her own friend whose personal experience mirrors what Sara reads in Rebecca’s journals. Next, Sara begins to be drawn into Rebecca’s experience, the darker nature of the relationship she records there, her growing relationship and giving up greater amounts of control over her life with her “master” and evidences that she is going deeper and deeper into the BDSM lifestyle. Third, Sara begins to realize that many aspects of Rebecca’s experience excite her and lure her into examining her own responses, her own past and present sexual life especially in light of a destructive relationship Sara had with a man whose ulterior motives were never her care, protection, personal welfare, or pleasure. So this lady is deeply troubled by the clash between what she is reading, how she is responding, and how this conflicts with decisions she made about herself after her destructive relationship of five years past.
This is also about Sara’s response to a world renown artist, a man she has met at a gallery where Rebecca worked and where Sara was attending a special charity art showing. How this man enters into the conflicted journey of discovery Sara is experiencing, how her deep needs conflict with her fears, and how Sara herself is a catalyst in this artist’s life are at the core of this novel. It is a powerful, intense, and pressure-filled relationship, one that waxes and wanes not only because of Sara’s fear of being overwhelmed by another man who uses sex to control her, but also the deep hurts and secret fears of this brilliant artist–a man who bears the deep scars of loss and pain, all of which are buried under layers of a public mask that keeps others at a distance. That is, except Sara.
This is a cliff-hanger kind of novel, the first of a trilogy that will continue Sara’s search for Rebecca, her concern for her friend who has seemingly disappeared as well, and trying to find a way to find a place of balance with her artist-lover, even as she deals with the lessons she is learning about herself. It is a very fine piece of erotic romance fiction writing, keeping the characters real and edgy, staying true to the story line and plot of the tale, and keeping readers on the edge of their seats from page one right through to the edge of the cliff, waiting with bated breath for book two of this series. I have read several novels by this author previously and I get a sense that she is a writer that is focused on digging into the inner recesses of the human mind, heart, and spirit where the darkest of personal secrets reside. There is a curious desire in all of us to read about this perhaps because such novels help us to consider our own deepest concerns and those aspects of ourselves we often try to ignore or keep buried. This novel goes right along with that, but it is certainly not a clone of previous stories. It most definitely stands as a unique and fresh new work.
This novel will be happily received by those who are fans of this author’s work and a delightful discovery by those who have not previously encountered Ms Jones’ writings. It is a truly marvelous novel and one I feel privileged to have read and reviewed.
I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.