Desert Isle Keeper
There are books I read once and there are books I read again and again. Having Her is one of the latter. I read it for the first time two months ago and, since then, have read it again… and again. It’s sexy, unexpected, romantic, smart, and, in places, achingly sad. The novel meets my criteria for a superb erotic romance: the sex shared by the characters is integral to the plot and both are wonderfully done.
Kara Sinclair is twenty-five and not afraid to stand out in a crowd. She wears brightly colored contact lenses, dyes her long hair colors never found in nature, favors biker boots, unusual outfits, and facial piercings. She owns a manga/Internet cafe, has been living on her own since she was seventeen, and is a bit of a hot head. She’s also a virgin, a state she’d like to change. But every time she tries, she ends up running away. There’s something about sex that makes her feel awkward and insecure. She believes if she could just get laid, sex would become easy for her.
As the book begins, she’s resorted to picking up a strange guy at a bar and going home with him. But, the minute it is time to get naked, she runs… and finds herself stranded in an iffy neighborhood at eleven o’clock at night. She calls her best friend Ellie Fox to ask for a ride but it’s not Ellie who answers the phone. It’s Ellie’s older brother Vincent who is “a complete control-freak, arrogant, and the most patronizing bastard she’d ever had the misfortune to come across.” He is also “possibly the most beautiful man she’d ever met.”
It’s true that Vincent is a control freak. He’s had to be. His mother is a schizophrenic who, when violent, wants to kill his sister, and his father abandoned their family when Vince was young. Vincent is the one who has always had to be in charge. In his early thirties, he owns a successful construction business. For years, every choice he’s made has been predicated at making sure his sister, mother, and business are safe. He’s never applied to architecture school–his childhood dream– and has never had time for a relationship. He can’t remember ever doing anything that was just for himself.
Vince picks up Kara and is shocked to hear she’s a virgin and appalled to hear she’s planning to give herself to a stranger. He tells her she can do better, in fact, she damn well better do better. She says, unless he wants to be the one, he can damn well stop telling her what to do. At first Vince says he’s not interested but after a few days of Kara sending him provocative texts of the guys she’s considering, he makes her an offer.
You know what I’m offering, baby girl. You want to lose your virginity? Then it needs to be with someone who’ll keep you safe. With someone who knows what they’re doing and who’ll make it good for you. Who won’t take advantage of you.
Vince doesn’t just make it good for Kara. He makes it extraordinary not only for Kara but for himself. He does so by setting up rules that are perfect for them both.
“You don’t have to do anything,” Vin went on, still quiet, still in charge. “All you have to do is follow my orders. Because you’re here for my pleasure and my pleasure alone. Do you understand?”
His pleasure alone? Shit. She should be protesting, shouldn’t she? Telling him where to stick his sexist bullshit? Yet the words stuck in her throat.
Because this is what you want. This is exactly what you want.
Kara struggled to take a breath. Yeah, God, it was what she’d fantasized about. Someone telling her what to do. Taking away the burden of her inexperience so she didn’t have to worry about it. And even more important than that, he was giving her a role to play. A mask to wear. Some extra armor to protect herself in a situation where she felt unprotected. A way to feel less vulnerable.
She didn’t have to be Kara, the freaky-ass chick with the weird hair who dressed funny. The girl nobody, not even her family, wanted. She could just be a slave girl.
Vin’s slave girl.
Kara and Vin enter into a sexual relationship that is twisted, complex, and powerful. Theirs isn’t a typical dom/sub liaison. There’s no violence, and, when Kara needs it, Vin gives her control. When they are not having sex, they are equals, each pushing the other to ask more from life. Their path is hard and both find it almost impossible to not be limited by their troubled pasts. Their HEA made me cry.
I loved their story and, if you like demanding erotic romance, you will too.
Ms. Ashenden has re-released this book and it’s on sale for 2.99.