It's that time of year when everyone is looking for the perfect poolside read to pack in their suitcase. Last year on holiday, I was absolutely stunned by the number of people unashamedly reading Fifty Shades of Grey on the hotel sunloungers. Fair play to them - there's nothing wrong with that, but it's not the kind of book that I'd feel comfortable reading in public !
Well, according to the quote from the Mail Online on the front of the book, Sierra Cartwright's Bind is even racier than Fifty Shades. I can't comment on that because I haven't read any of the Fifty Shades books or even seen the film - I was tempted but they were so hyped that I thought they wouldn't live up to expectations. I do have a basic knowledge of the story though - an inexperienced young woman embarks on a tentative foray into the world of BDSM with a dominant partner, feeling a mixture of curiosity, excitement and fear, as her boundaries are pushed to their limits and beyond. Well, with a few tweaks, the plot of Bind is almost identical.
A lot of criticism has been levelled at the Fifty Shades trilogy for presenting a relationship that goes beyond BDSM into the realms of abuse. In Bind, Sierra Cartwright goes to great pains to present Connor Donovan as a dominant with a softer, more caring side, as is evident in the scenes of aftercare and his concern for Lara's welfare (with safe words and definite limits put in place). Lara is also more of an equal, both in the world of business and relationships, and she has already had some minimal experience of "kinky" sex so that she knew what she was getting into. She is also the one to set things in motion, going after Connor in the first place and suggesting a marriage of convenience, even if she was unaware of his BDSM preferences.
In many ways, the novel reminded me of Nine and a Half Weeks, the cult movie that explored many of the same themes, albeit in a much less hardcore way, way back in the eighties. After watching the interplay between the characters, thinking repeatedly that Mickey Rourke's character was a total cad all the way through, you couldn't help but have mixed emotions at the end, with half of you thinking she should turn around and go back to him and the other half silently screaming at her to get the hell out ! Bind had the same will-she-won't-she tension going on towards the end, with Lara totally confused about what she wants and breaking free when she knows she is falling in love with Connor, when he has always been clear that real emotion is off the cards, but the impact is vastly reduced by the fact that this is the first in a trilogy so you know they'll end up together eventually. The scenes where dominant Connor has to go cap in hand to his sub and reveal that he too has fallen in love show the compex chemistry between the couple and the power-play that is more balanced than it would first appear.
The plot is pretty thin but let's face it, you won't really be reading it for complex storytelling and unexpected twists. The characters of Lara and Connor are sufficiently developed for it to be believable and gripping, although I did think Lara slipped into the lifestyle a little too easily. If you're looking for a read that is as scorching as the summer sun, it will tick all the right boxes !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £7.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.