"Submission" by Cherie Feather

Pros: Good sense of pacing, reads very quickly
Cons: Hero could be aggravatingly stubborn; heroine loses her inhibitions a little too quickly
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

When Kiki Dion, art historian, gets the opportunity to meet rich artist Ethan Tierney, she jumps at the chance. Intrigued by his kinky subject matter, and by the feelings both it and he arouse in her, she agrees to model for him. The sparks of their first meeting quickly swirl into a storm of passion, marred only by a feeling Kiki has of being watched. As the two of them try to come to terms with their new relationship, and what they will and won’t do, they’re going to need to figure out if a collection of letters from the turn of the century are related to those feelings of eyes watching…


 

One of the things that intrigued me about Submission was seeing that Ms. Feather was planning on interweaving the stories of two couples together, one contemporary and one from the past. I’ve seen this done well in books in the past, because it gives readers a way to compare and contrast responses to a situation and tease out how a problem should be solved. In this book, however, I actually found the historical couple’s characters and story more compelling than those of Kiki and Ethan.

First of all, Kiki establishes in the first few pages of the book that she is not looking to get into the BDSM scene that Ethan is a part of; she is interested in meeting him because of his art. Even though sparks fly between the two of them, she attempts to get to know him better through his art. Because of her very clear boundaries in the beginning of the book, it was rather frequently irritating to see her discard them with only the barest whisper of a qualm. One would think that repeatedly going past her stated boundaries would cause some sort of emotional conflict, but if it does the reader doesn’t get to see much of it.

Ethan also made me want to tear my hair out. There’s a particular type of scene that Kiki starts wanting to do with him because the idea of it turns her on, but he adamantly maintains that he absolutely will not do that with her. Or anyone. Because he never does that. This struck me as incredibly more aggravating than the historical romance cliché of Man Who Has Been Burned By One Woman Therefore All Women Are Out To Get Him, for the simple fact that Ethan seems to have decided that doing this type of scene with anyone will make him less of a man, while in the historicals the man is basing his attitude off of (admittedly narrow) experience. And to fully disclose here: I have never had any patience for contemporary men, either in real life or in books, who are more concerned with their ego than with doing something that would make the person they cared about happy.

The cardboard-feeling characters actually took a plot formula that I normally don’t mind and gave it a feeling of utter implausibility. I love watching heroines who can take care of themselves just fine in life get not only love, but the luxury of never having to worry about money again. Ethan’s dogged insistence throughout almost the entire book that he would not do the one fantasy she explicitly said she wanted to try with him, and then proceeded to make her feel guilty about wanting it made me seriously doubt that she couldn’t do better than him. Even when he did give her what she wanted, I wasn’t even sure that he had actually learned anything by giving in to her. Because of that, their Happily Ever After felt a little bit flat.

The couple that we meet through the letters that Kiki and Ethan read actually felt more emotionally resonant to me. I felt like I got more of a glimpse into how Nicole felt about the things that were happening in her life and her relationship with Javier. It was also very rewarding to watch her struggle and come to terms with her feelings about Javier and his lifestyle. I just wish I could have gotten to know a little more about what shaped Javier into who he was.

Submission is a fun, quick, steamy read, but because the characters felt frustrating and at times unlikeable the plot felt cheap and cheesy. I actually related more to the secondary characters than the hero and the heroine. If you are looking for a fun kinky read however, you won’t want to put this down.

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