Review: Release Me by J. Kenner

15799166Where did you get the book: E-arc from Publisher
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: Out now

For fans of Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You comes an erotic, emotionally charged romance between a powerful man who’s never heard “no” and a fiery woman who says “yes” on her own terms.

He was the one man I couldn’t avoid. And the one man I couldn’t resist.

Damien Stark could have his way with any woman. He was sexy, confident, and commanding: Anything he wanted, he got. And what he wanted was me.

Our attraction was unmistakable, almost beyond control, but as much as I ached to be his, I feared the pressures of his demands. Submitting to Damien meant I had to bare the darkest truth about my past—and risk breaking us apart.

But Damien was haunted, too. And as our passion came to obsess us both, his secrets threatened to destroy him—and us—forever.

Release Me is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*


Last year heralded the return of the erotic romance with the successes of 50 Shades and the Crossfire series. Release Me is another book with the same premise of a billionaire hero who falls hard for a heroine who has her own demons with BDSM overtones. I know I’m tired of this trope but for some reason it’s addictive. This premise is like crack and sometimes that can be rewarding, and sometimes it can be oh so bad. But in this case Release Me was the good kind–although it didn’t stand out in a major way or was unique with its approach with the premise and tropes.

Nikki Fairchild is at a party, reluctantly, hoping to capture the attention of Damian Stark for a business venture for her boss. Sparks fly between them when she does and soon enough Damian starts to pursue Nikki who is very attracted to him. Nikki  wants to focus on her career and maintain her independence from her domineering and interfering mother, but Damian and Nikki embark on a hot affair despite having issues and secrets between them due to their tortured pasts.

Even though Release Me didn’t offer anything new or different with the trope of the ‘hot billionaire hero’ and the ‘screwed up emotionally’ heroine, it did engage my interest and I was drawn into their story. I really liked the fact that Nikki was independent and held her own against Damian who was very alpha and controlling at times. I also liked the fact that Nikki’s past was focused on, with her mother’s desire to morph and model her into the perfect obedient debutante who could land a rich and powerful husband, which Nikki rejected and forged her own path. It did cause emotional and psychological damage because her mother would control all aspects of her life from eating, what to wear, and this led her to self-cutting. I thought this was an interesting factor and the sexual themes of dominance and BDSM overtones was realistic because it was a way for Nikki to work out those feelings. Although there were a few times where Damian crossed those lines and it led to real conflict between them.

But I do think J. Kenner did a good job in exploring these themes and how she approached it with sex. It also added another dimension to the romance and I think this was the main reason why this was definitely one of the better books with this trope. The romance was also fun and sexy, and I liked there was real banter between them which was a nice change for the sexually and emotionally charged scenes.

However, I did wish there was more to Damian’s character; he did feel a bit too cardboard cut out for me. There was also hints of his past which has some mystery, and a death, and I suspect the next book in the series will explore his story in more detail. I wished there was more elaboration because it would have added more to his development to his character. The pacing also felt a bit off because the narrative didn’t flow that smoothly. There was also a few funny moments, like before Damian became a billionaire CEO and running an empire, he was a professional tennis player and he did encounter Nikki at a Beauty Pageant in which he was judging. I could believe Nikki being forced to do shows like that but I could not imagine or believe a professional player would be judging something like this, and there was shades of Donald Trump which is so not a sexy image in my head for a billionaire.

But I think fans of 50 Shades and Crossfire will inhale this series. Even though it was derivative, the characterisation of Nikki, the sexy banter and great love scenes was a great way to spend a whole afternoon and evening into a book. And I will definitely be following the series because even though this premise isn’t offering anything new, I do find it crackilicious and I think Release Me belongs to that category!

I give Release Me a C+

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