Series: Asking for It #1
Published by Penguin on 6/2/15
“This is who I am. This is what I want. Now I need a man dangerous enough to give it to me.”
Graduate student Vivienne Charles is afraid of her own desires—ashamed to admit that she fantasizes about being taken by force, by a man who will claim her completely and without mercy. When the magnetic, mysterious Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes an offer that stuns her: they will remain near-strangers to each other, and meet in secret so that he can fulfill her fantasy.
Their arrangement is twisted. The sex is incredible. And—despite their attempts to stay apart—soon their emotions are bound together as tightly as the rope around Vivienne’s wrists. But the secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker...
Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.
“If it’s all in my head, and it makes me come, what’s the harm…the harm is when the lines between reality and fantasy get blurred.”
My heart shook when I first read the synopsis for this book. I was curious more than anything else, but I was also a little afraid. That’s why I had to read it. Anything that makes me nervous is a good thing. The subject matter is so very taboo, but that drew me in even more. I’d never read a book like this before, so I began reading with trepidation, but it didn’t take me very long to realize that there was no way I would walk away from this story.
“I hate this about myself. I hate it. I’ve tried to change so many times; I’ve always failed. While I wish I could say I don’t know why I’m wired this way…I do.”
That’s Vivienne. She’s a grad student who lives in a typical college down, her days are filled with the typical activities of anyone in their twenties, she has great friends, she has a job she loves, and she lives a pretty normal, healthy life, except for one thing – the thing that keeps her removed from the people who think they know her: she fantasizes about being raped.
Whoa. I know.
One night – after a drunken ex-boyfriend carelessly spills her secret, a stranger approaches her, and he doesn’t flinch when he offers to give her what she needs.
“I want to tell Jonah that he’s wrong. I want to tell him to fuck off. I want to make it clear that I’m not the twisted woman he described – but I can’t. This man has already seen right through me.”
Vivienne struggles mightily to resist Jonah. She wrestles with the shame she’s felt her whole life, and she tries to fight the desires that she knows aren’t right. But Jonah’s offering something she never thought she’d have, he’s offering to satisfy a need that’s tormented her for most of her life.
“The shame I feel is just fuel for my desire.”
What happens after Vivienne and Jonah enter into their dangerous agreement was unanticipated. As with any erotica, I expected some seriously sexy scenes (which, btw there were. Scorching!), but what was surprising was the evolution of the story and the characters. It wasn’t just about the naughty; the story was gripping and all-consuming, and the sex enhanced it instead of overwhelming it.
This story was about Vivienne’s growth as she struggles with who she is and why. Watching her battle with her demons was devastating, but it was honest and it made me connect with her character more. This book made me think; my brain contorted as I tried to understand the darkness that drove Vivienne. Plus, she wasn’t the only twisted one in this love story. It is told from her POV, and we find out more about her past than Jonah’s, but it’s made clear that he has secrets too.
“But I need him to be fucked up, don’t I? The only possible partner for these games is someone as bent as I am.”
I absolutely loved these characters. They were complex and they made me question pieces of myself, which is the best thing because that means they’ll stay with me for a long time. Lilah Pace’s writing was wonderful. It seemed so smooth to me, which I loved since it complemented the sticky subject matter and allowed for a relatively relaxed read, even during the heavy moments. This isn’t a story that’s weighed down by internal monologue. The angst is there, yes, but it doesn’t drag.
This book wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t really know what expectations I had when I read the blurb, but this wasn’t it. This was something else, something better, something more. Asking for It is what all erotic romances should be.