Rating: 2.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Is there anything more frustrating than reading the blurb for a book and being super excited to read it because it sounds so good, and then having it not meet your expectations? At all? That was the case for me and my disappointment over Take Me, Break Me. Bring on the hot rockers with a BDSM kink. The exhibitionism of a rock stage, with sweaty, sexed-up performers. The bass player who’s so attracted to his lead singer, he realizes he’s gay and can’t live without him and needs him as his Dom. This all sounds like something I could really get into. Unfortunately, it all fell flat.
Dazed is the name of the band that Tanner Star just joined as lead singer. He’s 6’5” and has a commanding presence. He’s a Dom, and he makes no secrets about it. He performs in leather and chains and has even been known to keep a flogger in his back pocket. As part of his performance, he sidles up to Reno Rocket, the bass player, and makes his sexual intentions known. The crowd goes wild. Reno? Not so much. He can’t deny his attraction to Tanner, but he’s neither gay nor submissive. And even though he does find Tanner hot, he can’t turn his world upside down just to pursue something with a known playboy.
Tanner is not going to take no for an answer. He wants Reno in a bad way, and not just as a one night stand, but as his submissive. Tanner hasn’t been serious about someone since his six-year relationship with Jamie ended when the love of his life was killed while serving in the military. Tanner didn’t think he could love again, but his feelings for Reno are strong. He’s willing to overlook the fact that the man seems to be confused about his sexuality and doesn’t even understand the BDSM world, let alone the fact that he’s clearly meant to be a submissive. Tanner’s convinced they belong together. He just has to persuade Reno.
The path to true love is a rocky one. Reno has a girlfriend and a family who wouldn’t understand anything outside of the norm. Tanner’s relationship with Jamie was not an easy one, and he’s still trying to figure out what kind of a Dom he is and how it would translate to a hesitant submissive like Reno. Plus, there’s a band they have to consider and their very public personas. Is it worth all the trouble?
I found this book extremely difficult to follow. It’s just all over the place. One minute, Reno is saying he’s not gay. Five minutes later he is. He doesn’t want to have sex, and then he does. Reno calls Tanner a playboy. Tanner refutes his claim and Reno apologizes. A few pages later, he again accuses Tanner of sleeping around. Tanner wants a sub. Then he wants to get to know each other. He’s ready to flog him. Then he won’t do anything to Reno because he’s worried he’ll hurt him. I just couldn’t really figure out what was going on throughout most of this book. Maybe it’s because there are a lot of thoughts in italics, and it was difficult to distinguish between the thoughts and the actions that were going on on the page.
It’s hard to say which came first, the chicken or the egg, when it comes to poor character development here. Because I was unable figure out Tanner or Reno’s motivations or actions, I just never was able to connect with them. Or was it because I was confused by their actions that I didn’t understand them as characters? Either way, I didn’t really know who either of them were. Reno wasn’t really submissive. He mostly seemed inexperienced and then in love with a Dom. Tanner just seemed messed up. He wanted to be a Dom, but I didn’t get the impression that he had any idea what he was doing. He seemed to have experimented (mostly unsuccessfully) with his ex in the lifestyle, but didn’t have the knowledge or the experience to be a good Dom. It became clear when all sorts of things started blowing up in their faces and they both fell apart. As a Dom, I didn’t trust Tanner one bit.
The BDSM element didn’t seem well-researched to me. When Reno and Tanner have their first scene together, Tanner attaches clamps to Reno’s balls. Reno’s a virgin in every sense of the word. That, to me, seems like a horribly inhumane way to initiate a sub. There were some elements of BDSM present, but it mostly felt like device to make the story interesting. It didn’t seem believable.
Believability was a problem here. Too many things happened. The boys had to deal with abusive families, unfaithful partners, a band full of predatory men who are suddenly all in love with Reno, a horrible moment at a club, not to mention fame and paparazzi. Had the author stuck with the premise — two members of a rock band who become involved in a D/s relationship — this really could’ve worked. Instead, it just ran off the tracks. It was confusing and lacked any sense of credibility. I hope Brown will see, in the future, that less is almost always more.