DNF @ 52%
I want to be clear about something: I read this book knowing what I was getting into. I like dark romances, in fact I'm of the opinion that the darker the better, as long as they are well written and the story and characterization makes sense. Kitty Thomas is all about captive erotic "romances," many of which involve BDSM and total power exchange, so if that isn't something you're into and you read one of her books not knowing that, it would make sense that you would give a low rating for that reason. I actually really liked TENDER MERCIES, and even though it was too hardcore for some of my friends, I thought it told a good story.
My problem with GUILTY PLEASURES is that it makes a fantasy out of something so toxic. Vivian is having marital issues and when her husband signs her up for a sex therapist without her knowledge, she's less than thrilled. She's even less thrilled when her sex therapist sends her to a massage therapist who is an abusive sexual predator, grooming women to be sold at a later date to creepy dudes who enjoy having female slaves. Um, yike on a bike. What?!
The rest of the book (at least insofar as I was able to read) just consisted of these male characters gaslighting the heroine into thinking that she wants it because she had a physical response to their abuse, and because she froze instead of running away. Because this is a "fantasy," the heroine of course realizes that being dominated against her will is the magical key to unlocking all of her sexual frustrations and making her happy and fulfilled. Ugh.
I really liked TENDER MERCIES because the fantasy element was more clearly demarcated and I was able to compartmentalize my feelings about consent within that safe space the author created. Here, the line felt much more tenuous, and I wasn't really able to stop feeling uncomfortable while reading this book. I'm sure this will be someone's sexual cup of tea, but I just thought it was rapey. YMMV.
1 out of 5 stars
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