Where did you get the book: e-ARC from publisher
Reviewed by Has and Lou
Release date: 2nd June
“This is who I am. This is what I want. Now I need a man dangerous enough to give it to me.”
Graduate student Vivienne Charles is afraid of her own desires—ashamed to admit that she fantasizes about being taken by force, by a man who will claim her completely and without mercy. When the magnetic, mysterious Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes an offer that stuns her: they will remain near-strangers to each other, and meet in secret so that he can fulfill her fantasy.
Their arrangement is twisted. The sex is incredible. And—despite their attempts to stay apart—soon their emotions are bound together as tightly as the rope around Vivienne’s wrists. But the secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker…
Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.
Has: I think this review is going to be hard to put my thoughts and feelings down because ASKING FOR IT has been one of the most visceral and thought provoking books I have read in a long while. It was at times difficult to read, but also gripping at the same time with standout and memorable characters. I also have to repeat the trigger warning. I am glad Penguin added the warning to this book because the rape fantasy scenes were very intense and vivid, and it definitely pushed my own boundaries. But I totally immersed myself into Vivienne and Jonah’s fantasies because it really gave a good insight to their characters and the psychological and emotional pain they were going through as well as their growing feelings for each other.
Lou: I was a big fan of Cara McKenna’s Willing Victim which is an erotica featuring a couple who also have a sexual relationship based around forced seduction and rape fantasy. Asking For It goes much deeper into the psychological, especially with Vivienne being disturbed about her own fantasies of rape. No matter how much she tried to deny, her sexual fulfilments always turned back towards forced seduction. In the beginning of the book when Viv had her first encounter with Jonah during a potential dangerous situation, she had a scene with her therapist afterwards discussing and arguing over why she kept having those fantasies. And Jonah. Holy moly, Jonah. He was such a striking and forceful character with the sexy (but scary) rawr vibe going on. Viv and Jonah made me so uncomfortable at times with how deep their role-play went. Asking For It was an engaging, dark and emotional read that left me glued to the pages until very early in the morning.
Has: I know! Even days later I am still thinking about the book and characters, and I love how Lilah Pace blended the raw emotional elements with a cerebral approach to the topics of rape culture and the aftermath and the effects of rape. It was so well written and seamlessly done even though I was uncomfortable at times. At the same time, I totally understood and sympathised with Viv’s feelings and thoughts as well as Jonah’s who was very intense but also so sensitive and tender. He was a great hero, and while we didn’t get to see much of his past compared to Viv’s, I hope we learn more in the next book, because he was definitely one of the best memorable heroes I’ve read. I loved that combination of deep intensity that verged on scary but also caring with giving Viv space and ensuring her safety even though she would dismiss or downplay it.
I also liked the side characters who were Viv’s friends especially Carmen and her brother Arturo as well as his wife Shay. They added another layer into the story that felt real and authentic and their subplots.
Lou: I don’t know if it was done purposefully by the author but there was this clinical sense to some of the sex scenes and I can’t tell whether I was distancing myself. There is little tenderness between Jonah and Viv throughout most of the book. Viv and Jonah decide early on to keep it strictly sexual and yet how could it be kept strictly sexual when it was obvious both Jonah and Viv had their own dark and secret reasons for this roleplay that they didn’t share with one another until towards the end of the book. And even then, Viv struggled with how much she shared with Jonah. When Jonah had to leave on a work-trip, Viv was very vulnerable yet they weren’t in a relationship. But they shared something so deeply and personal, especially Viv who had so many issues with her own fantasies. Even until the very end of the book when they become closer to one another, Viv had trouble relinquishing her need which troubled Jonah, especially when his past history is finally revealed which was so heartbreaking, rage-inducing and totally fucked up. It really is hard writing this review because while I enjoyed the book, I can’t critique or delve deep into the whys and hows of the psychological aspect of the book. It felt realistic to me yet I was very much aware of being a bystander watching from afar, which again reinforces the distance I felt at times.
Has: I think I felt the same way because some scenes were hard to read. I think for me, Pace created fleshed-out characters who felt real, and reading through their experiences and feelings made their story and relationship true and solid. It’s an interesting combination because we have raw emotions but also a psychological twist and like you said an almost clinical feel, but that didn’t deviate away from the tone of intense feelings. This is a book that makes you think and feel, and it doesn’t shy away from ugly issues but it also highlights hope and love which is a beautiful thing to see play out, especially when both Jonah and Viv have such ugly and painful pasts.
Lou: I just realised that trying to discuss this book, I forgot to mention that I did indeed like and enjoy the book lol. It’s just a book that pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Viv and Jonah’s relationship does turn deeper towards the end when their secrets are revealed, but the first book is a cliffhanger of sorts. Don’t go into this book expecting a HEA yet. There are way too much issues that haven’t been resolved and Jonah and Viv were in different places mentally and emotionally. I’m hoping there is more emotion and tenderness in Begging for It because the connection Viv and Jonah have is incredible.
I give Asking For It a B+
Has: I definitely agree! I hope there is more emotional development between the two characters although I got the sense they both faced up to their issues in the final chapters in this book. I also felt that this is one of the few books that actually explored kinky sex with abusive pasts in a responsible and realistic way. It also made you think about wider issues and it didn’t gloss over or waved a magic woowoo dong of healing over these characters. I am so glad because there have been a few books *cough* (won’t mention any names) that ignores these aspects.
ASKING FOR IT is a raw, intense story that is painful and harsh at times, but it is also full of hope and tenderness. This book may not be for everyone, but I highly recommend it because it’s a damn powerful and memorable read that remains with you for a long time. I am seriously on tenterhooks for the next book because that cliffhanger ending was torturous.
I also give Asking for it a A-
A big thanks to Berkley asking us if we wanted to take part in the blog tour for Asking For It. Watch out later today for an excerpt along with a rafflecopter giveaway!