“This was one hot story!” ~Under the Covers
I’ve been really excited to read this since I saw the cover, because I loved the colors and the feel of it. Yes, yes, I know… One of these days I’ll learn. In all honesty, I thought each of the authors would get a short story and this would be more like a kinky anthology. But it’s actually just one story. And to my disappointment, it’s one of those cliffhanger type, to be continued, you have to read the next books to know who she is going to end up with, kind of book. I’m not a huge fan of that, although I can deal with it sometimes.
This started off great in the first few chapters but then it quickly turned into a bit of a mess for me because things were happening a bit fast and sort of completely unreal. Raine was taken in under Hammer’s protection and care when he found her on the streets after she ran away from home. She’s always idolized him and is 100% head over heels in love. He’s been trying to stay away from her because he wants her so much and he doesn’t think he would be any good to her. Yes, the good old “I’m too damaged because of all the bad shit that happened in my past that will just repeat itself with you” plot. Another thing I’m not a huge fan of.
But where things went sour for me in this story and what really threw my enjoyment of the book from where it should’ve been, was the fact that Hammer does something that puts him in asshole territory. For me, he never left that corner from that point on. So here I am rooting for guy B, his best friend Liam. Just as Dom but a caring and loving gentleman as well. The Irish accent helps also. Liam is left to pick up the pieces of poor Riane by the time Hammer is done stomping all over her heart and pride.
So needless to say when she struggles and goes back and forth, I was not so happy. I do think towards the end of the story, Hammer was starting to plant a seed of doubt about Liam in my mind. And I do trust that the authors will redeem him in the next story. But at least in this one, he wasn’t my favorite.
Now for the side characters, I am extremely interested to read more about Beck. First they talk about him like he’s the devil incarnate and such an uncaring sadist. Then he proves a softer side as the book goes along. Then he turns out to be a hot shot doctor. Now, tell me more about him.
This was a bit of a different take on a bdsm club classic story. There’s a triangle instead of a menage, which I wasn’t expecting. Although I still have hopes for that to change. One thing is for sure. This was one hot story!
*Review copy provided by author
One Dom to Love (The Doms of Her Life #1)
Raine Kendall knew it was going to be a terrible day when she managed to have her heart broken before noon.
Up and ready for work an hour early, she strode down the hall and lingered outside the boss’s office, juggling a mug of steaming coffee in one hand and a plate with her fresh-baked apple muffins in the other. Macen Hammerman, the owner and Alpha Dom of the private BDSM club, Shadows, wasn’t roaming the dungeon with a devilish smile, barking orders at her, or staring into her soul with those intense hazel eyes. His door was closed.
She paced. Should she knock and see if he’d awakened yet or wait until he appeared? Raine gnawed her lip in indecision.
Then the door opened. Her head snapped up, a warm smile in place. But it wasn’t Hammer who emerged. Instead, a woman stood there, looking like everything Raine wasn’t: tall, blonde, willowy. And totally satisfied. The smile curling her swollen lips belonged to a woman contented by a string of multiple orgasms given by a very capable partner. Like Hammer. Besides his surname and the fact that his word was law around here, Raine had heard the other subs had given him that nickname for a reason.
“You’re blocking the door,” Marlie said with an annoyed huff.
Raine scrambled back as the other woman clutched her black Chanel bag and sauntered closer, wearing a gorgeous pair of Pradas that made her sinful legs look even longer. When had she started spending the night?
Behind Marlie, Hammer appeared in the doorway, his rugged face flushed. He’d thrown his dress shirt over one brawny arm, his thick biceps bunching as he zipped his pants. His salt-and-pepper hair was mussed, as if Marlie had run her fingers through it repeatedly. His lips were red as well. Raine had no doubt he’d kissed the other woman with a hard passion that had made her toes curl. His wide shoulders hung loose, his lean, muscled body fluid. Relaxed. Sated.
As Hammer looked up, Raine’s gaze locked with his. He stiffened. Regret flashed over his face before he quickly banked it.
Pain made her chest implode. The muffins and the coffee fell from her numb fingers to clatter at his feet. Jealousy stabbed her, along with a betrayal she had no right to feel. The cherry on top of the whole shit sundae was the pity in his eyes.
Hammer wasn’t hers. He hadn’t been for a single day of the entire six years she’d lived and worked at Shadows. He never would be. But she wanted him to be. Desperately.
Raine couldn’t look at him now, so she bent and scooped at the soggy remains of Hammer’s breakfast littering the marble tiles, feeling as if she had disintegrated, much like the mess she now cleaned.
Throat tight, she swallowed. Why didn’t the damn floor open up and swallow her whole? Why did she keep humiliating herself over this man? He’d shown her in every way possible that he didn’t want her. He was probably wondering if he was going to have to learn Greek or Klingon to make her understand.
“Clumsy girl.” Marlie rolled her eyes as she stepped over Raine and out of Hammer’s office and private bedroom, into the dungeon’s corridor.
“Marlie,” Hammer snapped. “Your attitude is unbecoming for a proper submissive. I’ve trained you better. Apologize to Raine this instant.”
His stern voice never failed to melt and make Raine anxious to please. Hearing it directed at the other woman crushed her even more.
Marlie murmured a breathy, “Yes, lover. I mean, Sir. Sorry about that, Rai-Rai.”
Raine almost retched on the bitch’s thousand dollar crystal-studded stilettos. Instead, she looked up to see the leggy blonde blow an air kiss at Hammer before striding away. Raine jerked her gaze down again and focused on cleaning up.
What did Hammer see in that bitch? Well, besides a tall, model-thin figure, a perfect tanning-booth glow, and blonde tresses that spiraled artlessly toward her pert ass. Raine blew back a strand of her straight raven hair, stared at her pale hands with their short, capable nails, and wanted to cry.
Hammer crouched beside her. “Raine? Let me get you a towel, precious.”
“Thank you.” Her voice sounded fragile, like glass about to shatter.
He paused briefly before turning away to his private bathroom. Once he’d gone, she choked back a sob, but couldn’t stop a scalding tear from dripping down her cheek and onto the floor.
God, how pitiful was she? He’d never love her. She had to pull it together before she made an even bigger fool of herself. While she was at it, she also had to face a few facts. Hammer had submissives sinking to their knees before him, eager to serve his every whim. He was hardly a monk; she knew Marlie wasn’t the first woman to leave his bedroom with that satisfied glow. Sadly, she wouldn’t be the last.
But Raine had never been so close to Hammer shirtless, looking so vital and strong, so disheveled and sexual and…
She had to get out of here.
He returned with a towel and bent to help her. Gathering up the pieces of the shattered coffee mug, she cupped the china in her hands, praying he was too busy helping her to notice her tears.
“Sorry I’m so clumsy.”
“You’re not clumsy. Accidents happen.” He mopped at the mess with the towel.
Accident? They both knew it hadn’t been. But he just had to be kind, didn’t he? He couldn’t be a complete douche bag and give her an easy way to hate him.
“I’ll take this to the kitchen and throw it away.”
“Stay,” he commanded. “Give me the china, precious. I’ll take care of it.”
Raine hesitated. How badly she wanted to heed that powerful voice. But Hammer was her boss, not her Dom. He didn’t want her devotion.
On shaking legs, she stood. “I’ve got it.”
Eager to be gone, Raine turned away. Holding back her tears was becoming hopeless. What the hell could she say to him? I’m in love with you, Macen. Please pick me! God, that sounded stupid—and impossible. The man who’d always said that monogamy gave him hives, who never shared his inner thoughts with anyone, who was smart and sophisticated… Yeah, he would never desire the runaway he’d plucked from an alley, huddled beside a dumpster, years ago. He saw her as a little sister, so she needed to give up her hope of being his lover. Dry her tears. Move on.
But how the hell did she make her heart stop wanting him?
Hammer grabbed her arm and turned her to face him again, frowning. “Raine… Thank you for the breakfast, precious. I’m always proud when I see the desire in your heart to serve.”
“Well, I tried, but it looks like Marlie already served you in the ways that count, so I’ll take my pesky self, along with the china, and leave.” She didn’t wait for his reply, but jerked her arm free and hustled for the exit.
Thank god Hammer didn’t respond. Ten seconds, then she’d be out of this hallway. She could hide in the kitchen and fall apart privately. But she wouldn’t wait that long to call herself twenty kinds of idiot. Stupid, stupid, stupid. When was she going to learn?
Hammer hadn’t noticed her when she’d turned eighteen. Twenty-one hadn’t registered with him, either. For some reason, she’d really hoped twenty-three would wrap its hands around his throat this past summer and choke hard until he saw that she was no longer that lost little homeless girl he’d rescued years ago. But no. She would always lack sophistication and that intangible something that came with world travel and fucking a different person every day. She’d never be what he wanted.
Raine tightened her fingers. The shards of china cut into her skin until she bled. Who cared? As red seeped over the white porcelain, she forced down an internal scream and kept walking.
She was relieved Hammer could no longer see her face.
While she made her way down the hall, a shadow emerged from one of the open doorways. She glanced up to see Liam O’Neill, Hammer’s Irish friend who’d come from New York, darkening the portal. His stare zeroed in on her, his expression somewhere between concern and pity. Urbane and gorgeous—and immediately popular with the subs when he’d arrived a couple of months ago—he watched her with a shrewd, all-seeing gaze that she’d come to know well. There was no way he wouldn’t see her tears.
He opened his mouth to speak, but Raine couldn’t deal with anymore of his questions about Hammer now, or worse, his compassion.
“Excuse me.” She brushed past him and ran for the kitchen.
Hammer begrudgingly allowed Raine to walk away. As much as he wanted to comfort her, he let the girl leave with her dignity. But goddamnit, Raine wore every emotion on her face. He’d always liked that he could read her so easily—until now. The devastation in her tearful blue eyes dropped him like a sound kick to the balls. The bite of her caustic quip didn’t wound nearly as much as the remorse flooding his veins.
He’d always tried to shield her from his sexual exploits with other subs because he’d feared she would be crushed. Hammer hated to be proven right.
Marlie’s gloating hadn’t helped. The superficial shrew played at being submissive because she liked a little bondage with her sex. But as a Dominant and owner of one of the most successful BDSM clubs on the West Coast, he had a responsibility to train the submissives. That included punishing and rewarding them for their actions, be it beneath his hand or beneath his body. That responsibility had no bearing on his feelings for Raine. He’d much rather have spent last night giving her all the pleasure he’d dreamed of, in every way he’d imagined giving it. Unfortunately, if he ever touched her—even once—he’d seize her mouth and claim it. His greedy hands would tear at her clothes until he could stroke her soft body and suck her nipples raw. When she panted and begged, he’d thrust his rigid cock unmercifully into her swollen cunt until she threw back her head and screamed his name.
Hammer swallowed a thick knot of lust and raked a hand through his hair. He couldn’t do any of those things. But he could save Raine from himself. He might be what she wanted, but she knew nothing of the demons lurking inside him that ensured he’d never be what she needed. So he let her believe he saw her as a child, not a sexy woman who’d grown into the focus of a neverending lust he couldn’t slake.