By definition, romantica is a hybrid of Erotica and Romance, ideally a combination of the best the two genres have to offer. Playfully taking up the definition, Gail Faulkner’s Full Ride is both sultry and romantic.
When nervous Prin, naked under a trenchcoat as agreed upon, enters the luxurious Grand Hotel suite to meet up with her blind-date Dom, she believes her sleep-deprived mind must be playing tricks on her, for she never expected to find him, her dream lover, waiting inside. Unsettlingly vivid and recurring dreams of sexual submission and self-humiliation have haunted Prin for two years, only to have her waking up unbearably desolate and empty and missing her late husband and their Dominance/Submission games. Not yet ready for a new relationship, she finally turned to her best friends for advice. Marisa and Dave suggest an uninhibited one-night-stand with an experienced, anonymous man. Since Dom is a trusted friend of Dave’s and only in town for a short while on business, Prin can safely act out her suppressed fantasies without getting entangled in any way.
The Dom, a former Special Forces operative, agrees to a one night of non-binding sexual pleasure with Prin and lays down detailed rules of the game – her total submission to his absolute dominance – and the two agree upon an airtight contract to assure non-commitment and no further contact by either person once the night is over. How could he have known she is the woman he was drawn to during his dream walks, the woman who was his lifeline during the darkest time of his life? According to his Native American tradition, however, a Dreamwalker who find his soulmate’s spirit during dreamwalking is also condemned to mere dreams of her, for she, tragically, never lives in his own time. He is urgently aware that he has only one precious night to woo her and convince her that they are meant for each other.
Full Ride‘s naughty opening had me hooked almost from the first page. The D/S scenes are disturbingly raw and yet arousing, though they will strain the comfort zone of some readers. The hero is extremely well-endowed and also chooses to use large sex toys while they engage in rough sex involving all orafices, so the squeamish should beware. Between intercourse, they take care of their hygiene and bodily functions together. I will admit to being grossed out about the latter (like the embarrassed heroine), but it somehow perfectly illustrated the cocoon of intimacy the hero creates for the heroine.
From Prin’s point of view, her Dom is deliciously decadent and dangerous, just like in her dreams and exactly what she needs. He ruthlessly invades her and strips her bare, both physically and emotionally, before satisfying her most secret, most shameful cravings. She relishes his expert dominance and humiliation of her, but she also takes pride in the fact that her lover needs her unconditional submission to reach his own pleasure. The hero’s adoring inner monologues mirror their balance of power very well, as they assure the reader that he always puts her needs first.
While the first half of Full Ride is the finest D/S Erotica with endless pages of explicit, bold sex, the second half is all about telling the protagonists’ romantic love story – which in fact began and deepened during their sexual exploration of each other. A poignant scene involving Dom’s name at the end of their seething hot night together, turns the carnal, intimate atmosphere of Full Ride into something altogether different. In a relentless, romantic courtship, the sexual predator shifts into an adoring suitor, openly obsessing and fussing over the heroine.
I must admit that as much as I enjoyed the book’s romance, the erotic interaction between the couple was far more powerful. The author never leaves me in the dark about the hero’s state of mind – he is relentlessly, exuberantly, enthusiastically in love. His emotional excess sort of ruined the thrill – the uncertain magic of the hero’s feelings – for me.
Apart from the cringe-worthy Tom Cruise-like behavior, Full Ride is a delightful D/S Romantica that I recommend.