Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Genre: Erotic Romance
Heat Rating: 4
For the past couple years Laurel’s been coasting, hiding in the backseat while her life drifts off course. Then one summer afternoon a tall, built bruiser named Flynn strides in and steers her straight into an infatuation she never saw coming.
Flynn introduces Laurel to things she’s never imagined—to the violent but exciting realm of the underground boxing circuit, to rough sex and even rougher role-playing, and to an attraction she craves even as it intimidates her. As Flynn invites her deeper into his world and his life, Laurel has to make a choice—let fear keep her holed up where it’s safe, or take a chance and fight for the man who makes her feel more alive than she’d dreamed possible.
Reader Advisory: Although all sex acts are 100-percent consensual, Willing Victim contains role-playing scenarios that may upset some readers who are sensitive about rape, even in a simulated capacity.
I won’t lie: from the beginning, I wasn’t sure what I would make of “Willing Victim.” The synopsis intrigued me, even with the warning the author provided. I’m no stranger to books that press comfort zones, but still, this was a massive detour of the material I typically read for pleasure.
Yet for all the buttons it pushed, and how uncomfortable it initially made me, I have to say “Willing Victim” completely trumped my expectations. After reading a few paragraphs, it was clear the writing was strong, as was the dialogue and characterization; this made it incredibly easy to fall into the story, and stay attached as soon as things became graphic. Really, had it not been for Ms. McKenna’s writing talents, I’m not sure “Willing Victim” would have succeeded in what it conveyed.
I wasn’t sure I liked the male lead, Flynn, at all. Yet as the novel progressed, he steadily won me over with his wit, surprising sensitivity, and the thousand little things he did to otherwise convey he was, whether or not Laurel realized it, emotionally involved. Whereas other books have tried and failed when it comes to a single person POV (when the book in question is written in third, rather than first), Ms. McKenna did not leave me wishing we’d seen or heard from Flynn; through what Laurel saw, we heard and saw enough, and at times even more than she did.
“Willing Victim” is a fantastic outlet for those who strive to live beyond convention, as well as bringing heart to a lifestyle many—myself included—don’t particularly understand. I wouldn’t call this BDSM (and neither would Flynn), but many of the same themes are present, at least the way they are depicted in fiction.
I will say this to those considering adding this book to your checkout cart: don’t read it if you’re easily offended or especially sensitive to rape fantasies, even between two consenting adults. However, if you’re like me and just, well, curious, you might find yourself very much surprised by your reaction. I know I was.
5 Tea Cups!