Brandon McKinney is a man reborn. Newly awakened to the notion of consensual power exchange and the submissive urges inside him, he begs for a second chance from the man who opened his eyes to this world: Silicon Valley superstar Jonathan Watkins. But no birth is absent pain, and Brandon’s is no exception. He fears he’s not strong enough to see it through.
Jonathan knows better. He’s seen the iron core inside his new submissive, and the wounded heart inside him too. He means to teach Brandon to heal the one with the other. They have five months left on their contract, after all, and Jonathan has done more with less before.
It’s tough to stay objective, though, when you’re falling in love. Shame Brandon doesn’t feel the same. He’s only there for the three-million-dollar payout at contract’s end—a fact that Jonathan, nursing his own wounded heart, reminds himself of each day. For even as Brandon’s barriers break and his mind expands, even as he grows to love his place at Jonathan’s feet, he’ll never love life with a sadist—especially one who cannot escape the public eye.
*Blurb from Goodreads*
First things first, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, and while this one does leave a lot to be desired, the book more than made up for it!
Two of my favorite genres are BDSM romance and m/m, and yet I’ve always had a hard time finding these two together in a book that worked for me. Either the BDSM is light enough that I don’t consider it a true BDSM book, or the BDSM is so incredibly hard core that I become uncomfortable reading the book and end up disliking it.
Brandon is new to the lifestyle, and although he ran away from Jonathan once, he also knows that Jonathan is the only one who can teach him – who can help him discover what it is about the lifestyle that draws him. After their failed attempt last time, Brandon and Jonathan are both hesitant, but determined to see this time through.
But as Jonathan learns what makes Brandon tick, and Brandon gains more and more respect for his Dom, the two will discover that there is more than meets the eye with the other. They begin to fall for one another, and dream about what life could be like outside of their six month contract. But will Brandon and Jonathan let their everyday lives get in the way of a true relationship?
I didn’t realize that this book was a sequel to the failed first attempt at a contract between Jonathan and Brandon. But I will admit that I’m kinda glad I never read the first book. Based on both Jonathan and Brandon’s thoughts and memories of their first time together, I think the book would have gone too far into the lifestyle for me to enjoy the reading experience. Despite this being so closely tied in with the first book, there were only a few times that I wondered why the authors didn’t go into further detail about their past. It was fairly easy to read this book as a stand alone.
I was glad to see that Jonathan was quickly able to pick up on what aspects of BDSM Brandon thrived off of. There were a few scenes that were a little too intense and hard-core for me, but for the most part, I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. There weren’t any moments that made me uncomfortable or turned me off from reading all together, so I consider that a huge success.
I liked the slow build up of a relationship between these two as well. It was plain-as-day that these two had some serious chemistry between them, but the fact that the emotions were slow to build was a relief for me. I like watching a couple go from weary friendship to trust to more. Seeing them each come to terms with trusting and accepting one another is always a treat, especially if it is dragged out over time and the feelings bite them each in the butt.
The conflict at the end was also well done in my opinion. However, it was never really explained to the reader (in this book at least) that Brandon had any issues with Jonathan’s very public lifestyle. It did come as a bit of surprise to me that he would freak out so much about being tied in the public image to Jonathan, and what the consequences of that would be for him in the long run.
All that being said, I liked the way both Brandon and Jonathan handled the end of their written contract. I thought it showed an extreme amount of courage and maturity. I think it really displayed just how much each of them had grown since the beginning of the book. It made their coming together for their HEA that much sweeter in the end.
All in all I really enjoyed this book. I don’t know that I would go back and read the first in the series, but I did like getting the chance to see Brandon and Jonathan learn one another and go through the process of falling in love. I will definitely be looking for more from both of these authors in the future.
I give Power Play: Awakening a C+