Review: Release Me by J. Kenner

Tuesday, January 1

Title:  Release Me*
Author: J. Kenner
Series: Stark Trilogy #1

Genre: contemporary erotic romance
Publisher: Random House Bantam
Format: ebook and paperback
Date/Year: Jan 1, 2013
Reviewed by: Michele

*This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

For fans of Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You comes an erotic, emotionally charged romance between a powerful man who’s never heard “no” and a fiery woman who says “yes” on her own terms.

He was the one man I couldn’t avoid. And the one man I couldn’t resist.

Damien Stark could have his way with any woman. He was sexy, confident, and commanding: Anything he wanted, he got. And what he wanted was me.

Our attraction was unmistakable, almost beyond control, but as much as I ached to be his, I feared the pressures of his demands. Submitting to Damien meant I had to bare the darkest truth about my past—and risk breaking us apart.

But Damien was haunted, too. And as our passion came to obsess us both, his secrets threatened to destroy him—and us—forever.

Release Me is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

My Musings:

“Damien Stark is the holy grail.”

Thanks to the runaway success of the Fifty Shades books, 2012 has been the year of BDSM Billionaire trilogies. It seems like there’s a new one every other week, with each heralded as the heir to the Fifty Shades crown. In my reading experience, only a very few have lived up to that particular hype. I am happy to report that J. Kenner’s Release Me more than holds its own among that select group of books.

“When I make the effort - like when I’m Social Nikki - I can’t help but look like I come from money. Probably because I do. Come from it, that is. But that doesn’t mean I brought it with me.”

We experience Release Me through the eyes of Nikki Fairchild, recent LA transplant from Texas. She’s trying to reinvent herself far from the influence of her mother and the sad history which transformed her from an unhappy beauty pageant girl to a determined woman with two engineering degrees and a desire to build a company and career of her own. But there’s no direct route to success when you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, and if she has to use her beauty to gain access to the elite circles of influence, then so be it, especially if it means she can meet Damien Stark again.

“I think we’re kindred spirits, Miss Fairchild.”

Damien Stark has already reinvented himself from a hot young tennis sensation to a wildly successful billionaire businessman. He was also the source of the scholarship that helped Nikki pay for college after the end of the pageant career she’d never wanted in the first place. Damien and Nikki met briefly once back when still playing tennis and Nikki was still “chasing tiaras.” She has never forgotten their encounter. But has he? When they meet again at a private art gala, the connection is immediate and undeniable. In the days that follow, Nikki worries that her secrets will doom any serious relationship they could have, but it’s Damien’s secrets that could harm them both beyond repair.

With Release Me, J. Kenner successfully masters the BDSM Billionaire romance trope and makes it her own. The connected histories of Damien and Nikki have shaped their characters in ways that helped them stay alive but not truly live until they meet for the second time, ready to try trust and love again. I loved how they were more alike in what they had survived growing up and how they finally realized that they belonged to each other. The wide array of secondary characters provide the necessary background context and keep the romance from becoming too isolated from the couple’s daily lives. The telegraphing of the impending danger expected in the next book is a bit obvious at the end, but easily forgiven when the rest of the book is this good. I loved meeting Damien and Nikki in Release Me and I’m eagerly anticipating the release of Claim Me, the second book in the series.


Overall: 4.5
Sensuality level: 4
(light domination including toys, anal sex)

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