Rating: DNF
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Welcome to All Access, a new BDSM club that promotes inclusivity. When you step through these doors, you are bound to find equality, acceptance, and even… love.
Colin
For the past year all I’ve known is heartbreak, and going to All Access was supposed to be a distraction from the pain. However, when I see my former play partner happy and in love, I flee the club, vowing never to return.
Leaving Ohio and travelling to Alabama for a few days should help me to clear my head and help me to forget, but no amount of beautiful scenery, hot men, and southern accents could prepare me for what awaited me at the hardcore BDSM club, Flame of Fury.
When I wake to find myself in my hotel room, I’m reeking of vomit and in extreme pain. Nothing makes sense, except for the vaguely familiar man who promises to never leave my side, even after I tell him what I remember.
As I try to put my life back together, Stephen’s loyalty, belief, and kindness never wavers, but can I trust him after all that I’ve endured?

Stephen
I’ve never allowed my blindness to hinder me, and that includes my sex life. As a Dominant, my primary goal is to fulfill the needs of my play partners.
When a heartbroken submissive asks for a scene, my instincts are on alert as I agree, but after ten spankings, Colin flees, and I’m left wondering about the boy with an ache in my heart.
A year later All Access opens, and I’m excited by the prospect of a club that caters to the disabled. More than that, I’m hoping to see Colin again. However, my joy is short-lived, because Colin is in trouble. When I see him respond to an ad that screams DANGER, I refuse to wait around. With a friend in tow I set out to rescue him, but we find him too late: He’s bruised, battered, and alone.
His injuries and trauma are too much for him to bear so I agree to help him through it, but as altruism turns into guiding, nurturing, and training, I can’t help but wonder about the future.

Upon reading the blurb for this book, I was intrigued by the storyline and excited to see disability representation in a place we don’t often see it, so I was quick to pick this one up. But almost immediately, I knew this wasn’t the book for me. The writing style, coupled with the narrative choices, were only the beginning of my issues with this book. As I continued reading and more problems became apparent, I ultimately chose to put the book down at 31% and would not be finishing this story.

Right off the bat, I found the writing to be choppy, disjointed, and uneven. It was hard to become absorbed in the book when it didn’t flow well. While the story is told in alternating first person POVs, the MCs aren’t discernible from each other. Character thoughts and narration jumped from one thing to the next without smooth transitions. The dialogue was stilted with awkward phrasing at times. This was interspersed with a whole lot of telling, and very little showing. Together, these things made the book hard to read, as I was constantly being pulled from the story as my brain tried to process what I was reading.

Then there are the characters. The MCs are Stephen, a blind Dom, and Colin, a troubled sub. Stephen definitely has a commanding air, but I also found him somewhat off putting in the portion I read. He has a bit of a stalker mentality when it comes to Colin, and I felt he was pushing himself into Colin’s life when they barely had a connection.

Colin, for his part, goes through some horrific things in the book. And while it’s off page, the character does experience moments of flashbacks in nightmares and some of it is discussed. Colin goes to a club that advertises extreme BDSM and where he’s drugged and then abused and raped. The aftermath is severe and, with Stephen’s help, Colin begins to heal. I expect this journey takes most of the book, as it’s implied, but again I didn’t read that far. My issue with this is not the subject matter, but the way it was handled. It could have been incredibly impactful and raw, given what transpired. But instead, as a reader, I was left on the outside as the author only grazed the surface. While I think the author attempted to capture the emotion behind the trauma, it was never fully realized as Colin’s narration would jump from one thing to the next and so it was not explored.

On top of that, the characters’ motivations were held on the flimsiest of threads. Colin begins the book reeling from heartbreak, as the first Dom he let into his life cheated on him. But what didn’t ring true was the fact that Colin had only been with this man for a matter of weeks. And while I don’t negate the depth of feelings that can grow in this time, Colin’s reactions seemed rather extreme for such a short time frame. But this is only the start. When Colin and Stephen first meet, they spend minutes together before deciding on trying a scene. Colin, rightfully, realizes he’s not in the right headspace and uses his safe word minutes into the scene. However, my problem then comes from the fact that both Colin and Stephen spend the next year thinking about each other. And not just remembering the scene gone wrong, but almost pining for each other. The chemistry just wasn’t there for me to believe this depth of emotion after such a short time.

And this theme continues when they reconnect. Colin sees Stephen at the new club, All Access, which caters to those in the kink community who have disabilities. This, incidentally, is one of the reasons I picked up the book, as I thought this premise was great. However, they don’t talk or interact, as Colin runs as soon as he sees Stephen. Stephen doesn’t even know Colin was there until later. But it’s this that then leads Colin to run to a different state and go to the extreme kink club, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. What’s worse is that when Stephen is browsing a website later, he stumbles upon the ad for the club, just happens to check it out, finds a comment made by Colin, assumes it’s “his” Colin—though again, they’ve barely spoken at all and not in a year—and is convinced he has to go save Colin. Stephen ropes his friend into taking him to Alabama from Ohio, frets until he can get there, manages to track Colin down, and gets the hotel to let him into Colin’s room where he finds Colin beaten, bruised, and bloody. On the surface, this seems like he’s romantic and saving Colin. But the confluence of events just don’t make sense, are flimsy at best, and I doubt would never happen as they were portrayed. It was just too far, and I couldn’t suspend disbelief enough.

And it only gets worse from there, where more suspension of disbelief is required — Colin’s stay in the hospital, Colin going home with Stephen, choosing to stay with a friend, but running back to Stephen, running again to avoid catching feelings…none of it worked for me. Not only because of how little they knew each other, but because of the absolute lack of connection I felt between the MCs. I just didn’t buy any of this story in the portion I read, and the plot holes, coupled with the writing style, had me putting it down.

I could go on about other issues I had with the story. How all the characters’ reactions felt extreme, going from zero to sixty with little provocation. How the formatting choices with lack of italics for thoughts made it tough to read and the copious number of exclamation points didn’t seem to fit. How the tense shifts from past to present were jarring, yanking me out of the story. How the time jumps worked against the narrative. How the characters felt one dimensional and didn’t make me care about them. But ultimately, it all comes together to paint the picture of why this book clearly wasn’t for me and why I decided not to finish it. These are the problems I had in just the portion I read, and I couldn’t continue on for another 400 or so pages. While some of these things may have been better resolved and explained as the story continued, I just wasn’t interested in finding out. This one is a pass for me.