June 9, 2012

Review: Rebecca's Way by Rynna Cress

Rebecca is an assistant to a movie agent, dealing with the bratty authors managed by her boss. Her day is spoiled by Mackenzie Bell, a man-child who, when she turns up at his apartment to demand his manuscript, is with a woman who he can't remember the name of. Mackenzie has wanted Rebecca and her cold poise forever, and when she gives him a tiny opening, he follows her home, drunk and drink driving. He tells he would do anything to have her. Taking him at his word, Rebecca wakes Mackenzie tied up on the sofa with restraints and a ball gag.

So follows a day of debauchery where Rebecca pegs, whips, humiliates and keeps Mackenzie in chastity. She even sends Mackenzie food shopping with a remote controlled electric ball in his butt (I was slightly concerned about that - if it's just a ball, how do they get it out?) Mackenzie submits to all this willingly and finds that he likes Rebecca's way of life. He certainly takes to BDSM remarkably quickly.

All this is achieved in just 13k words. With all that hotness, necessarily there isn't as much characterization as I would like. I think Mackenzie's drink driving and following Rebecca home is supposed to juxtaposition against his confession that he doesn't really like the person that he has become and his subsequent complete submission. Still, I find that drink driving is a hard limit for me. I strongly dislike facetious portrayals of drink driving; Mackenzie says that it's okay, because he drank first and then drove. I guess that's to show what an arrogant, heartlessness, inconsiderate bastard he is in his 'before' persona, and it works, because that's exactly what I think. I'm not keen on his following her home either. Rather pushy/stalker ish. Then overnight (literally) Mackenzie becomes a willing and obedient toy, which is rather a quick turn around. That being said, I did have a fair sense of Rebecca as a strong willed, controlling character and I was pretty disappointed when the story came to an abrupt halt. The set up takes about a third of the story, followed by wall to wall action of the good sexy type, then the story just ends.


At the end of their day together Rebecca sends him home with his chastity device in place to cool off for a week. I eagerly turned the page to see how they get on, and found an epilogue. They are in a cafe, a year later, and Mackenzie gives Rebecca a short story about, yes, you guessed it: their story, that you just read. I irrationally loathe this device. It's difficult to explain why I dislike it so much (thoughts on this welcomed below). I think for me it's a combination of the fact that I feel like it's a cop out of an ending, like 'and then she woke up'. Also, being reminded of the author in a story jerks me right out of the story - I like to get wrapped up in the characters and the story and I don't want to be reminded that a real person wrote it. (Sorry. I said that my dislike was irrational.)

I was also a bit irritated by the another aspect of the ending. Rebecca suddenly has had a promotion and is now a successful agent and has been "fast tracked for glamorous promotion" and has a "substantial pay rise". Not only that:
She had taken to the position almost immediately, quickly amassing an impressive list of clients and showing a keen eye for emerging young talent. Her deceptively assertive business demeanor caught many off guard, and gave her a distinct edge during high-stakes negotiations. With a natural affinity for the business and with much hard work, she had, in just under a year on the job, established herself as a true asset to the firm.
I feel like I'm being hit around the head with it. She's [hit] really [thwack] successful [bam] and [pow] happy [bosh] and [punch] talented. Okayokayokay. I get it.

Rebecca and Mackenzie also have a HFN, but it all feels very quick and too neat. Mackenzie has gone straight from being a feckless drunk, to being a perfect slave. Yes, alright we get a line about how there were tears and tantrums in the epilogue, but it's tell, not show and thus lacking the emotion that would make it feel real. From that point of view, this story, though not really a very romantic romance, falls into the classic romance trap of tying everything up in a perfect bow at the end.

***End Spoilers***

Rebecca's Way is written in the third person, but switches between being in the hero and heroine's head, giving a disconcerting feeling that you're never quite sure whose eyes you are looking through. The whole story is a bit heavy handed at times - the writing is a little prone to cliche and hyperbole, the characters are a bit 'too much' to be believable. Mackenzie's character arc (a sort of bad boy come good) is a nice idea, but it isn't fleshed out enough to really work. But then, it's a short story so there isn't a lot of time for subtlety. Ultimately, the concept is really good and the hot bits are hot, so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more femdom from Cress. It probably helps that I was sooooo happy to see chastity and pegging and this is a fun and sexy portrayal of both.

TL,DR: a hot, short read featuring pegging and chastity, which I'd've liked to be a bit longer, with a rather abrupt ending and lots of fun in the middle. Flawed, but completely readable.

If Rebecca's Way was longer and therefore more developed, I think it could be B or B+ territory. As it is, it's a B- from me.

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