Kylie sees the way Jensen looks at her. The dark promise in his eyes. That rough edge of dominance she knows he possesses. But dominance is the one thing that frightens her above all else. She and her brother barely survived a childhood steeped in violence and abuse. She could never give up total control and submit to a man. Especially a man like Jensen. Could she?
Jensen sees the shadows in Kylie’s eyes. Knows he has to tread very carefully or risk losing any chance he has with her. All he wants is the opportunity to show her that dominance doesn’t equal pain, bondage or discipline. That emotional surrender is the most powerful of all, and that to submit—fully to him—will fulfill the aching void in her heart in a way nothing else ever will.
Blurb taken from Goodreads.
I cannot pinpoint what always influences my decision-making when it comes to picking up a book. Could it be the trope? How is the blurb? What is the setting in which the story takes place? In Giving In by Maya Banks, all I had to read was that the heroine had struggled with an abusive past and I was all over it. Terrible pasts draw me in like a moth to flame when it comes to choosing my books, and I was not disappointed.
I have not read Letting Go, which is book one in the Surrender trilogy. I suspect that my feeling of such abruptness happening at the beginning of the story is because we’re picking up shortly after book 1 leaves off. At times, the story felt a little too much like instalove for me, but again, that’s probably due to me reading a series out of order–as I do.
When the story starts with Jensen barging in to Kylie’s office and saying some pretty unfortunate things to her in order to provoke an emotional response, I had no idea of how these two would find a happily-ever-after. Jensen seemed as though he was just another alpha male trying to get what he wanted no matter the cost while Kylie struck me as angry and irritated. It did not take me long to realize that you cannot always judge two characters by the first page. These two are complicated and complex, and this story is not only about giving in to one another, but what it takes to surrender and what that truly means.
Kylie’s past was horrific. After her brother died, she simply coasted through life keeping her head down and trying not to make waves. She had many gifts and abilities but was afraid to reach for what she wanted or to really value herself. She was self-aware, but she didn’t know how to stop the behavior and ask for what she needed. She had friends, but she didn’t know how to be a friend to others and truly open up.
Jensen was dominant to the core. He wanted Kylie, but he knew that they would not be traveling an easy road. He recognized that he couldn’t just take what he wanted and expect her to capitulate. He had to earn her trust a piece at a time. This is what made me go from rolling my eyes to completely melting.
There was a time when I binged on BDSM romances like cheesecake, but I noticed that if the heroine had a tragic past, the only way to get her past it was to sex her through it with the hero’s magical trauma cure-all–the penis. In Giving In, Jensen realized that he could nottake this route. He would have to do what he’d never done before, give up his own control for the sake of Kylie. Y’all, his overtures were so sweet and his concessions a big deal. So often, the hero acts like an overbearing sexual pop psychologist, and that is not hot. His willingness to wait, to help her, was wonderful. He didn’t do it to make points, he did it because he recognized that Kylie was worth it to him. He did it because he was a stand-up guy and he’s elevated himself to one of my top heroes. As an aside, he cooked one of my favorite chicken dishes for the heroine. That’s elevation worthy, right?
Kylie was a fighter and didn’t understand her own worth. Watching her slowly open up to Jensen and take the control that he gave her was so sweet. She wanted to move forward even though she knew it would take baby steps. I found myself cheering for every little victory that she managed. She couldn’t deal with the physical aspects of BDSM, and instead of trying to please Jensen for the sake of submission, she held her own. She communicated with him and slowly began to open up, and as a reader, I felt a huge payoff.
There were a few quibbles that I had in terms of the story. At times, I felt as though the author was telling more than showing. I understood that it was good to be in her head, but some of the passages felt as though I were reading a self-help book.
Quibbles aside, I absolutely loved this book. There is a really great scene toward the end between Kylie and her best friends that made me both laugh and cry. Also, I cannot wait to read Tate and Chessy’s book. Watching the romance between Jensen and Kylie was a real treat, and Maya Banks took the theme of control and brought it in to a whole new light. Emotional surrender isn’t something that I tend to see a lot of in other novels on this subject, and I found myself satisfied as a reader. The sensitivity with which the story was told coupled with the fact that years of trauma were not instantly erased in the end went a long way with me. Giving In gets a B, and I can’t wait until the conclusion of this series.
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