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One Breath at a Time (Black Lace) Mass Market Paperback – April 22, 2010
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Superficially, their relationship takes a predictable path: they have a lot of sex, spend a lot of time getting to know each other, she finds out he's got some secrets, he confesses all, she has her doubts about her life, he gets possessive, generally happily ever after follows. Well, there's a lot of other stuff in there, but I'm not offering any spoilers.
These are two complicated and damaged people who use each other just as much as they need each other. Kelley is eager to start seeing Tom because he's ready, willing and able to give her what she asks for without any questions asked, with the bonus that he comes with a weight room filled with floggers, paddles, canes and big things that shouldn't go in certain places. Tom is thrilled with Kelley: she's self-created a situation where she nearly needs him to get through the day. After years of meaningless sex with thousands of women, he wants one woman he can have in his own little world who enjoys his kind of sex and Kelley's it. They do find a way to love each other but it felt like it was in spite of who they were in the beginning rather than because of it. There is romance, but it seems to come mainly from Tom and since the story is told from Kelley's narrative, it's a little disconcerting.
Of course, not everything's sunshine and light. Tom is controlling and possessive at times, although he teeters on the edge of being, "aw, romantic!" and "ooh, that's creepy," once in a while. He's messed things up in his private and sexual life so badly that unless it's under his thumb, he doesn't trust it. Kelley is ridiculously still obsessing over Michael six months after their breakup and the initial and still occasional reason for all the rough sex? It's both a way to give the figurative middle finger to Michael, his ex-girlfriend and their sex life as well as a way to make Kelley stop thinking about him for a little bit. Nice, huh? If it weren't for the sweaty caning, blistering anal sex and improper usage of a weight bench, I'd have to wonder what it was that brought these two kooky kids together.
As extreme as some of the sexual elements were and as much as I didn't like Kelley sometimes, the story had me interested and turning the pages until the last several chapters. For all the emotional angst and the way it played out in their sexual lives, the way things ended felt a little cheap and formulaic to me. This was a four star story up until the last few chapters, three for those last few and a two for the final one.
This is a deceptively inauspicious beginning of a relationship that will change both of their lives forever. Tom senses Kelley's need, and makes it very clear that he's interested in her. But despite her raging attraction to him and a closeness that happens much more quickly than either of them would have thought possible, she still has some big emotional hurdles to overcome. Her failed relationship with Michael has shaken her self-confidence and she's finding it very difficult to let go of her deep-seated feelings for him.
Tom has his own baggage, too. He's been a player for far too long, and it's obviously a source of shame for him. This instant connection he feels with Kelley might just be the real thing, and he wants more than anything to be the man she needs him to be.
Right from the start, Tom has the toe-curling intensity that I adore in an alpha hero. I absolutely adore a loving dominant, and Tom's character is among the very best I've ever read. He's masterful but very caring and sweet.
Kelley knows almost immediately that this thing between them is right and she feels safe and cherished enough to give herself entirely to him, body and soul. It's a complete trust that surprises her in its rightness. They quickly find a sexual compatibility and comfort zone that usually comes only with a longer relationship, and they work together to discover her sexual limits as a submissive. Can Tom help heal her shredded self-esteem, and find a way to restore her ability to fully give herself again?
One Breath at a Time by Gwen Masters has delicious intensity and passion, very likeable characters, breathtaking intimacy, and some of the hottest sex I've ever read. I devoured this book and didn't want it to end. Without a doubt, this is one for the keeper shelf. I loved it.
5 Kisses, 2 1/2 Peppers (BDSM, flogging, anal sex, rough sex, fisting, m/f/m)
Reviewer, TwoLips Reviews, LLC
When she goes to check on her friend Ronnie's mansion and feed the dogs as a favor, she notices the outside door is unlocked and that the "Jungle Room" basement was open; something Ronnie would never allow. Instead of fleeing she enters only to find a man with a gun asking why she is here; he also notices she never even flinched. Tom and Kelly talk as he goes from pointing a gun at her to pointing his anatomical gun at her. They begin to make love as if there is no tomorrow. He takes her to places that Michael only dreamed of with Kelley. As they fall in love their ardent relationship forges around domination and submissiveness, but will that be enough to tie them together permanently.
This is an engaging erotic romance starring two fascinating protagonists as what Kelley rejected with Michael feels right with Tom starting with the work bench. Although the late introduction of Tom's buddy Jake, who widens the sexual encounters into a ménage a trois and voyeurism, seems unnecessary sperm count padding; ONE BREATH AT A TIME will please sub-genre fans.