ARC Review – Awakening by Cassandra Carr

Awakening explored what happens when the dynamic of power is shifted between the master and the submissive. It showed a more human side to domination and a more cautious side to submission. ~ Leigh, Guilty Pleasures

Vanessa Clark is doing a research paper for one of her last classes – Psychology of Sex – before receiving her Bachelors’ degree. Once she discovers the topic of BDSM, everything else pales in comparison. But where will she learn about it? The Internet has its limits, and Vanessa needs to talk to real-life practitioners of BDSM to really understand the lifestyle and write about it.

Will Astin, who serves as a dungeon master at a local BDSM club, doesn’t expect to find a gorgeous, irresistible young woman when he agrees to a meet and greet with a college student as a favor to the club’s owner. Even better, she’s interested in learning about BDSM for what he suspects are more than scholarly reasons, and Will decides he’s just the man to teach her about it, hopefully claiming her for his own.

Will and Vanessa begin a journey which teaches both of them there’s more to BDSM than meets the eye. In the process, they grow closer, but when Will’s job puts him in the line of fire – literally – their roles are reversed and Vanessa has to take charge. Can they handle the rapid shift in their burgeoning dynamic, or is their relationship doomed?

Review copy provided for an honest review

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I love it when a book can snag me from the very first sentence. And let’s face it, any story that can begin with a comment about handling a fake vagina has my attention!

I fully expected this to be the typical BDSM book, detailing a novice submissive’s journey into the lifestyle. While I certainly would have enjoyed reading that tale with these two likeable characters, what I did not anticipate was that, at its core, this was not the story that was told in Awakening.

Surprisingly, the focus was not on simply introducing Vanessa to BDSM, but rather exploring what happens when the dynamic of power is shifted between the master and the submissive. What happens when the dominant partner in the relationship is forced to give up the power and, for all intents and purposes, become the one who must submit in order to have their needs met? Will teaches Vanessa that the submissive is actually the stronger person in the relationship; he teaches her to have the courage to allow another person to dominate her. But what happens to the relationship when Will actually has to acknowledge that, while not weaker or submissive, he may not be in charge?

Awakening showed a more human side to domination and a more cautious side to submission. Will tasked himself with the role of helping Vanessa be the best person she could be. He portrayed himself to have a confident exterior, however, we are also given a window into the inner nervousness and insecurities he had that made him a person as well as a Dom.

Vanessa was charming and mature beyond her years. At odds with the fact that she enjoyed the physical aspects of BDSM but couldn’t reconcile the idea of being considered submissive, I found her to be a very real and genuine character.

I truly enjoyed this story. This was not what I anticipated from a book about BDSM, and I was intrigued that it found a new way to explore the dynamic between a master and sub. The characters were all well thought out, complete individuals, and it helped me understand more fully why they acted in the ways in which they did. Friends of both Vanessa and Will were introduced, and I hope that Cassandra Carr continues this as a series with them. As much as I’d like to see these new characters have stories of their own, I’m just as interested in revisiting Will and Vanessa to see how they are doing as they continue their journey together.


3.75 Stars

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