I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Safe in His Arms by Renee Rose
Published by Stormy Night Publications on July 23, 2013
Genres: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
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For as long as she could remember, Becca dreamed of a dominant man to take her in hand, and Zac, the handsome Marine she met at her sister's wedding, filled the role with aplomb… for a weekend. Then the fling came to an end, Zac went off to war and died for his country, and Becca learned she carried a child who would be born without a father.
Seven years later, Becca has done her best to move on and forget about Zac… until the day she walks into her kitchen to find the man she believed she would never see again locked in mortal combat with her son’s nanny, and realizes everything she thought she knew about Zac was a lie.
Like all Black Ops agents, Zac doesn't exist in any government record. His life is a series of deadly missions, and relationships of any kind are unsanctioned. But he keeps one secret. He watches over Becca, the beautiful daughter of a rogue agent, and Parker, the six-year-old boy he fathered that fateful weekend. When he spots a known assassin in their apartment posing as a nanny, he's forced to reveal himself and take them to safety… whether Becca likes it or not.
While Becca may have enjoyed his dominance once, bending her to his will again may not be quite so easy. He is determined to keep her safe, however, and if a long, hard spanking is required, he is more than willing to oblige. Having Becca over his knee rekindles more than his passion, though; even when the immediate danger has passed, he finds it much more difficult to “ghost out” on his family again. Must he resign himself to protecting those he loves from afar, or can he find a way to be the man Becca needs and longs for, the man who is worthy of her submission and her love?
Publisher’s Note: Safe in His Arms is an erotic romance novel that includes both consensual and non-consensual spankings, anal play, graphic sexual scenes, and more. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.
This is short story/novella length. I find reading and reviewing shorts/novellas to always be rather challenging – so I can only imagine that writing them must be just as challenging. There’s a lot of information that needs to be condensed down to its purest version to be able to fit into the required word count.
And that is the exact same reason why I find reading shorts to be challenging – I want so much (from the book, the author, the characters, the plot) but there’s so little space available. *sigh* One of the biggest issues I normally have with shorts is the relationship of the characters themselves (not the relationship the characters have with the reader). How do you convey the appropriate amount of tension and intimacy while not writing a full length novel? The mind, it boggles.
I entered this particular read with little expectations. I’ve read some Domestic Discipline (DD) books before but not a ton of them. As I come to DD from the sub-genre BDSM…I do have these conceptions in my head of WHAT a physically chastising relationship should be built on: trust, communication and rule creation. Meaning that I expect that the people in the power exchange relationship will trust each other, will communicate clearly any expectations of each other and will discuss before hand any rules that the couple will live by.
This story…pushed a lot of my buttons in the wrong way. The heroine meets the hero at her sister’s wedding. They have what amounts to a one night stand (the whole weekend…but weddings are usually on a Saturday…) in which the heroine, Becca, tells the hero, Zac, of her particular kink – spanking – right from the start. They have a lovely weekend and then Zac disappears. Later, after discovering she’s pregnant, Becca tries to contact Zac (who is military). Becca gets a response that Zac has died in the line of duty but she’s given his pension so that she can raise his child.
Seven years go by. Becca has a
plot moppet son, Parker, who seems to have a very active imagination. He claims his father is “a ghost” and that his new nanny is “not really a nanny.” (Let’s not discuss the fact that a not-rich Becca is able to afford a nanny on a single parent income.) Parker just “knows things” – he inherited this from his father. Who also “knows things” and has had out of body experiences. This bit of the paranormal is thrown in but never fully developed. Mostly it seemed to just assist in moving along the plot when necessary.
So, one day Becca walks into her apartment with her son…and there is Zac. Killing the nanny in Becca’s kitchen. He bundles Becca and the kid up and spirits them out of the apartment, calling for clean up as he goes. He tells Becca that he’s Black Ops deep cover (no identity so he doesn’t “exist” – he’s a ghost) and that the “nanny” was an assassin. He tells her not to contact anyone so he can keep her safe. As soon as they reach a safe house, Becca tries to use a phone to contact someone. Zac catches her and pulls her into a bathroom. Where he commences to trying to spank her for not listening. She fights at first, they talk for a hot second, and then she goes “You can spank me now.” Then they have sexy times. WTF??! Seriously??! I get that Becca likes DD but this is a man that she does not really know, that she just saw commit murder, that [now] clearly faked his own death and that has not been seen in the last seven years. While she raised his son alone. That would require some SERIOUS conversation from me.
I just…had a problem with the huge amount of intimacy that the couple have without any real reason for them to be so close so quickly. They have not known each other long – a SINGLE one night stand [well, one weekend stand] that resulted in a pregnancy – and she knows jack-shit about him. I can understand a little hanky panky during a one night stand – but the level of trust she displays on the same day she watches him appear out of nowhere and kill someone made me roll my eyes quite a bit.
Safe in His Arms is basically a “love at first sight” book – without those exact words being said. And that frustrated me as they have a relationship that has to be built on trust…but what has he done to show that she can trust him? The H/h part ways again – this time after a single night as the government cleaned her apartment from the nanny murder. Zac sends her a text after she and Parker are gone, “I’m sorry. I’ll always love you. Do not reply.” WTF? Really? Have I just entered a Whitney Houston song but no one told me about it??? Well, to give Zac some credit it seems he’s been
stalking watching Becca for the last seven years (and she is the mother of his child) but still. They’ve now spent how much time interacting with each other? Less than a full week.
“A Tremor ran through his body straight to his already eager cock at the sight of her, so exquisite in full nudity, the pink of her spanked skin and the humility of her pose conveying utter submission. He’d never craved submission from a woman before he’d had it from her, but now…the power of it, the trust – that was it, wasn’t it?
He had very little trust in his life. His government trusted him enough to kill, to not roll over under torture, to carry out missions no one else would or could. But they might just as easily order his death on a whim. So that wasn’t trust. And there was the tenuous trust between other agents – with Marcus more than others. But that, too, was false. If he showed up unexpectedly at any one of their homes, they’d pull out a gun and shoot him before asking questions. All of them lived in as much fear of being eliminated by their own organization as by an enemy. No, Becca was the first person who trusted him, and who made him want desperately to be worthy of her gift. Her trust unsteadied him, even as it shored him.”
Safe in His Arms, Pages 37-38
Speaking of stalking – this guy has it down. Zac is a better stalker than the guys in Kristen Ashley (KA) books (who’s heroes stalk preeeeety well). Not only does he have the house wired (KA’s been there, done that and has the t-shirt) but he has her computer bugged, too! He can hit a button and instantly see what she’s reading/watching/researching/doing. Wow. That’s…disturbing.
This book really irritated me but I don’t think everyone will have my issues with it. I thought the writing itself was fine – what pulled me out of the story wasn’t oddities of phrase but holes in plot. The characters did not seem cardboard and I enjoyed the (few) sex scenes. What pushed my buttons was the intimacy level. There was none of the back and forth, give and take of a couple getting to know each other. All of the drama in their relationship came from outside influences: Zac’s career (he’s not supposed to have relationships) plus the major plot movement that brought Zac back into their lives: the murderous nanny.
I think – for me, at least – if the book (short) had allowed for Zac and Becca to know each other a bit more it would have worked better. I needed a better reason for her to allow this amount of trust and intimacy so easily after the way he abandoned her for seven years. I did have some problems with the plot moppet, too. Parker was the perfect plot moppet. Only seen and heard from at the most opportune moments – and while only six able to be distracted enough with headphones and a movie to allow his parents to get down and dirty loudly – I’m sure all parents would love that kid.
The book’s ending was…a bit different than I was expecting (good) but deus ex machina came along and wrapped everything up nicely and then tied it with a bow.
And I’m a little annoyed with this review, to be honest. I enjoyed the writing and I wanted to love the storyline but this review makes it seem as if I enjoyed neither. Safe in His Arms has all the ingredients I look for in this kind of romance: alpha male, impact play, and DD without age play. I can only imagine that it was the quick intimacy that killed so much of the vibe for me. I will give this author another go in the future. But a full length book and I’m skipping the shorts/novellas.
I do feel that a lot of people may enjoy this one more than I – and I still give it 3 stars.