Title: (Power Exchange #1)
Author: A. J. Rose
Cover Artist: Robert Junek
Buy Link: Power Exchange
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance / BDSM / Mystery
Length: 117,000 words
Rating: 4 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Nice guy detective gets to successfully research his newfound interest in BDSM but fails somewhat on investigation basics in an enjoyable and occasionally uncompromising novel.
From the moment Detective Gavin DeGrassi steps into the world of BDSM to solve the brutal slaying of Dom George Kaiser, his course is not his own. Mesmerized by the context in which the victim lived and the images of the lifestyle seared into his soul, Gavin must find a way to navigate these unknown waters. With his personal life in upheaval due to marital trouble, and his professional life uncertain with the assignment of a new partner, Gavin needs all the help he can get understanding the case.
Enter Ben Haverson, a psychologist and a well known Dom. With Ben’s help as a consultant and attention to Gavin’s own murky truths, Gavin delves deeper than he ever thought he would into the world of restraints and paddles. Forced to scrutinize his true nature and his innermost desires, Gavin has a choice: keep the fear of submitting at bay, or dive in and solve the case with the knowledge he gains. When another victim is discovered, Gavin’s choice is made for him, and he’s pulled headlong into the deepest, most emotional journey of his life.
Unfortunately for him and Ben, a killer has noticed, has taken stock, and has set his sights on the D/s pair. Can Gavin outwit him, or will his first exchange of power be his last?
If ever you wanted a guide to a really nice BDSM relationship this is your book. We follow Gavin’s introduction to the pleasure and pain principles almost as if the reader is shadowing him for an up close and personal kind of work experience. This allowed for a satisfying amount of intimacy and job satisfaction. Although there is a lot of basic information being shared here in a very straightforward way, it never felt heavy handed. The story is relayed in an attractive easy going manner. The first person narration obviously helped create the real sense of familiarity and empathy that the author achieves here.
Gavin’s background story, his conspicuously police centric family and his unfortunate marriage added to the depth of his imagined personality, which in turn fed into why he was attracted to BDSM. It was a lot of fun to share in his response to Ben; who has to be one of the nicest Dom’s I have ever had the pleasure to fictionally meet. I did think Gavin’s complete embrace of his new life style happened very quickly, but the seize the day concept covered it well enough.
Gavin’s sexual renaissance is only part of this story. The St Louis Police Dept murder case he is investigating with the help of Ben as a consultant psychologist is an essential motivating back drop. The results of the disturbingly brutal murders are described with some detail and added a degree of intensity to the murder hunt.
Unfortunately the biggest flaw in this book was the mystery plot. It was horribly easy to guess from a very early stage who did it. Consequently Gavin’s actions towards the end of the book provoked a fair amount of exasperation if not muttering of …..oh your not really going to be that stupid are you… However his punishment for completely losing his investigative marbles was particularly unpleasant. The aftermath of the case was dealt with in a sober but satisfyingly realistic way.
I enjoyed Gavin’s warm relationship with his brother Cole. However his parent’s reactions to the revelations about Gavin’s new way of life were explained away a touch too quickly for me. The other characters in the book were often well developed, and although Gavin’s wife was suitably unsympathetic there were some good, strong female characters. I particularly liked the portrayal of Kimberly Kaiser, the ex wife of the first victim.
My reservations about the easily solved mystery, were overcome by the steady strength of the rest of the book which included a sense of location and believable secondary characters. I found this a very readable novel, most successful in it’s treatment of Gavin’s exploration of BDSM’s power exchange.