The story starts out with a great premise: Wyle, a male submissive, going on a blind date. Wyle thinks that Melissa is out of his league but she takes him home and invites him to do whatever he wants to her. This is a fun scene where he expresses how he feels the pressure to do what she wants. Everything is going pretty well, he seems pretty into being dominant, then she stops him and says it doesn't feel right. She asks what he really wants and he confesses that he wants to be spanked. I enjoyed this and I was intrigued by the idea that maybe she already knew he was submissive. It set up the potential for a conflict that was something a bit different.
Their relationship progresses quickly, with several hot scenes and a phone sex session that was really nicely done. Then it all goes wrong for me.
He begins to get suspicious when she knows what he likes for breakfast and the friend who set them up lets slip that she asked about him a lot. He convinces himself that she is after his money and shuts her out. When he goes over to confront her, he loses his temper and beats and humilates her as 'punishment'. She takes it meekly and is turned on by it. Then he actually bothers to ask why she asked about him. She is his kid neighbour from back home and she's had a crush on him for years, blah de blah. He feels bad and asks her to punish him as retribution. She does so but by this time I don't know that she likes being dominant or that he likes being submissive. Frankly, it's a bit confusing.
Instead of Melissa being a strong woman who hears about a submissive who could be right for her, she is a tired trope of childhood love. She's not really a dom, she's doing it to please him. Similarly, Wyle defaults to being dominant and inflicting pain and Melissa has so little backbone that she takes it without complaint. She even says at one point,
It seems that she lurrves him sooo much that she'll do whatever he wants - be a dom, be a sub, make him breakfast, forgive him. Perhaps some people would enjoy reading this but personally, a sex scene when the woman is just a vessel for playing out the male character's fantasies, whatever they might be, is not for me."Okay Wyle. Whatever you want."
The implication is that actually they're going to 'default' to him being dominant and her being submissive, as that's the roles that they instinctively take on. I have no problem with the female character discovering that she likes being dominant or submissive or both but the suggestion that a woman in love is so pathetic that she will do whatever a man wants in order to obtain/keep him really irritates me.
It bothers me too, when we hear first hand that he is enjoying their first sexual encounter, that she somehow telepathically knows that actually he wants something different. I bought it when I thought she was a dom and already knew he was a submissive, as there was a reason for her to know that he was holding back. With Melissa having a childhood crush on Wyle, the device has no credibility - how on earth would she know? Her saying, "It doesn't feel right", is not enough to convince me when just lines before he is thinking how good it feels.
All in all I'm really quite disappointed with this story. It was promising, really very good and hot in the middle, had a great voice but fell down totally flat for me at the end. It was well written and engaging, both of which are distinctly in its favor. But the characterization of Melissa was so weak and the subtext really quite irritating, so I much as I wanted to, I can't like this book much.