TITLE: RELEASE ME
AUTHOR: J. KENNER
Details: no. 1 Stark Trilogy
Received from Random House
When Nikki Fairchild first met Damian Stark she was still in the beauty pageant circuit she hated. Although she felt a strong attraction to him she found herself completely tongue-tied. When he left with another woman on that occasion she had the impression that he was sorry he had to leave, but that, she decides, was probably wishful thinking.
When Nikki meets Damian again she has finished college, left her overbearing mother and Texas behind her and has just started a new job in Los Angeles. She is at a private showing of erotic paintings with her boss who hopes to meet the rich and powerful Mr. Stark to interest him in sponsoring a product he’s developing. Nikki is there as the beautiful body to help clinch the deal. From the moment Damian and Nikki set eyes on each other there is electricity in the air. He intimidates her yet she feels a constant and irresistible pull towards him. And the pull appears mutual. In fact, Damian has a proposition for her; since he can’t find an erotic painting that works for him he wants her to model for one for one week; one week during which she will give herself to him completely. In return he will give her one million dollars. Since Nikki has dreams of starting her own company and is secretly excited about spending that week submitting herself to this man, she says yes. But, agreeing to his terms means showing all of herself to Damian and that includes the scars from the past she so desperately wants to hide; scars that may scare him away for ever. And she’s not the only one with issues; Damian has a few of his own and he is determined to keep them secret, even from the woman he feels irresistibly drawn towards.
With personal issues between them and outside forces determined to destroy Damian, these two lovers have the odds stacked against them. The question is whether or not the forces that pull them together are strong enough to combat those that are trying to keep them apart.
If you think the above description of the plot sounds (vaguely) familiar you are right. In my other blog, More Than a Reading Journal, you can read exactly what I thought about the similarities between this book and others as well as my reflections on those who felt the need to complain about those.
As for the erotic content in this book I would categorize it has sensual rather than sexy. While the description above seems to imply that this story has BDSM elements in it, I wouldn’t go as far as calling it that. There is some (very) light bondage but in my opinion it is unlikely to shock most people. Damian is definitely a more experienced lover than Nikki and determined to introduce her to new pleasures but this is done at her pace rather than his insistence. This is, more than anything else, a very well written and sensual love story.
I feel the author dealt very well with Nikki’s issues. It is clear from early on in the story that the scars she bears are the result of Nikki cutting herself. And although Nikki hasn’t resorted to that form of stress-relief in three years the urge is still strong whenever life throws her for a hurtful loop. The fact that the author made it clear that this is an ongoing issue rather than one that was miraculously cured gives both Nikki and the story a level of realism that the book greatly benefits from. I really hope that Damian’s issues, when they are brought to the forefront, will be dealt with in a similar way.
I’m not overly fond of the first-person narrative in this book. Having only Nikki’s perspective on what is going on means that the reader never gets a first-hand insight into Damian’s thoughts and feelings. I can’t help feeling that I would have enjoyed this story more if I had also been able to look into Damian’s mind. But that may well be a very personal preference and it is quite possible this approach works perfectly for other readers.
Overall I would call this a well plotted, well written and sensual romance.