Friday, November 14, 2008

Slave to Love by Nikita Black

TITLE: Slave to Love
AUTHOR: Nikita Black
PUBLISHER: Whispers Publishing
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 124k)
GENRE: BDSM thriller erotic romance
COST: $7.95

SIS officer Caroline Palmer is itching to get into Homicide…until Mick McGraw pulls her in on a special task force to find a new serial killer in town. It’s not that she doesn’t want to prove her mettle. It’s that Mick isn’t known as the Iceman for nothing. And that she’s been harboring a serious crush on him for a year, a crush he soundly rebuffed. And that taking the job means posing as his lover in a Master/slave relationship…

I’ve had this sitting on my virtual TBR file for the longest time, so since I’ve had some extra time on my hands with Halloween over and before Thanksgiving shows up, I pulled it out. And promptly devoured. Seriously. I could not. Stop. Reading.

The first half doesn’t read like romance. It’s straight out of any erotic thriller I have sitting on my paperback shelf, because I haunt the mystery section of my local B&N as much as I do the romance section. The writing is taut, the characters are vivid, and the crime violent. Caroline seems marvelously competent as she trades zingers with the other cops, and especially when she is first confronted with Mick. She can more than hold her own, so even though she’s leery of the assignment, she also knows she can’t refuse. It’s a smart woman I’m more than willing to throw in with, in her attempts to hold Mick at bay.

Ah, Mick. Homicide cop. Untouchable. Gorgeous. Unavailable. A grade A jerk to Caroline much of the time, with a dark, seductive, sinister side I absolutely, positively could not resist any more than Caroline could. I know I shouldn’t like him. He treats Caroline like crap in the beginning. He pushes all her buttons, winds her up, and does everything he can to get her to bend to his will. And yet…and yet…there was something else there. He’s clearly damaged goods. Highly protective of his heart and his past. And maybe it’s the “let me kiss it better” instinct that sometimes rears its head in me taking over my better common sense. I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that while he was becoming Caroline’s Master in every sense of the world, I was there, holding my breath, wondering if the dark side was going to come out and play. Because it is dark. There’s a scene of forced consent. There’s the manipulation of Caroline’s job. There’s a lot of things that might set off warning bells with other characters. They did ding here, but…well, not very loudly. Because his need for power, to show ownership of Caroline, combined with his tormented side that he so carefully guards, completely got to me.

The story is definitely edgy. The serial killer is a sex crime killer who picks his prey from a BDSM club. Mick does everything he can to prepare Caroline for it, though in his defense, he also gives her opportunity to back out before she’s in too deep. Their games are fairly intense, and while the prose borders on purple in those scenes – I’m sorry, but I can’t see the word “tumid” without snickering and rolling my eyes – the rest of the writing is crisp and tight enough to make up for it.

As dark and seductive as Mick is, this was the most intense ride I’ve taken in a story in a while. I was as breathless when I finished it as I was at every crucial point throughout the book. A keeper, and one I’m definitely rushing off to buy in print.


8/10 – Slightly purple prose during the smut in the first half, but so well structured with such fascinating characters that I couldn’t put it down


9/10 – A jerk. Grade A most of the time. But there’s something so icy and seductive about him that I just don’t care.


7/10 – Strong enough, though some of her vacillating on the want him/don’t want him got old.

Entertainment value

9/10 – A total guilty pleasure. Extremely seductive and thrilling in more than one sense of the word.

World building

8/10 – The BDSM world is portrayed well, though I would have liked more clarity in their normal lives.



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