Title: Risk Aware
Author: Amelia C. Gormley
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 9, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary, BDSM
Page Count: 310
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Tattoo artist Geoff Gilchrest is convinced his life is some sort of cosmic joke. Why else would a hemophiliac also be a masochist? He’s given himself more than one elbow bleed since puberty just doing what guys do when alone and bored, so forget about whips and chains. How many partners would contemplate playing with someone even a mild flogging could kill?
Gallery owner Robin Brady knows he can deliver what Geoff needs: to be taken to the edge of danger but never beyond. But Robin came to Saugatuck to get away from the leather scene and heal from a betrayal by his former sub, so he’s not sure he should get involved with Geoff. His ambivalence isn’t helped by the fact that Geoff’s unwillingness to communicate about his well-being hits Robin in some very raw places.
Geoff’s hemophilia isn’t the obstacle he thinks it is. Instead, a lack of trust—on both their parts—is what could end them before they have a chance to begin.
I enjoy BDSM and I relish opportunities to read something the screams fresh and original a mile way. This book is all about that. Geoff is a tattoo artist and a haemophiliac. He has never dabbled in BDSM in any way, other than watching porn and wishing someone would want him enough to risk “playing” with him despite the dangers posed by his illness. Robin is someone experienced in BDSM practices and just happens to be so intrigued by Geoff, he’s willing to be creative with ways they can be together and have scenes together without risking Geoff’s life.
I have to say, this book stretched the limits of my comfort zone. It was a long book, so I found a groove eventually, and let go of my anxiety about Geoff, but for the first half of the book or so, I was more scared than able to enjoy their intimate time together. The fear of serious injury, internal bleeding, and/or needing to be hospitalised was very real at all times. Robin came off as very confident that he could push Geoff to the edge of any safety limits so he could give Geoff the best approximation to being deathly afraid and in danger as possible. I am no authority figure on kink but I thought that was quite irresponsible. There were just so many what ifs that my poor heart couldn’t take the anxiety.
There was a lot of information about haemophilia in this book, as there should be. I was grateful for that as besides having a vague notion of what it is, I didn’t know even a fraction of what it means for the person in terms of medication, care, expenses, physical limitations etc. What I really appreciated was how well placed the information about haemophilia was throughout the book. There was no info dump. I felt educated but the information was supplied in ways that felt relevant to move the story forward.
The relationship between Geoff and Robin was admittedly full of steamy encounters, regardless of kink. It became obvious after a while that details of dates or lazy days on the sofa were quickly summarised so more page time could be devoted on a scene or discussions about potential scenes and limits. There were a lot of discussions about limits and aftercare and all the ways Geoff’s health could be jeopardised by something they did during sex. There were trust issues, on both sides, for different reasons, and I thought those were resolved organically by the end of the book, with a lot of emphasis on communication and honesty.
There are so many reasons to enjoy this book –steam, learning something new, character development within the confines of navigating a relationship. And I did, mostly. But the book felt overly long and I wish some of the more “mundane” things hadn’t been skipped over in favour of yet another sex scene. Also, the kink is reaaaaaally kinky and the medical reality of things intruded in some of the sexy. Not because having a partner with an illness is unsexy. But some of the aspects of the illness became eroticised and I’m not sure I was comfortable with that.
If you are a fan of kink, you should read this. It’s original, well-written, and very creative.