Saturday, 1 September 2012

Book Review: Ravish Me by Cindy Jacks

Title: Ravish Me
Author: Cindy Jacks
Release Date: 20 June 2012
Number of pages: novella length
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Source: ebook provided by publisher
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 3.5 stars

Novellus bonus!
Goodreads appetizer: Jane’s boyfriend Matthew is perfect in all ways but one—in the bedroom. Sure, their sex life is sweet and romantic, but therein lies the problem. Jane harbors secret desires that she’s afraid will turn off her vanilla lover. But finally she confides in him, introducing him to the world of non-con role play.

Matthew has always believed that no means no, but in ravishment fantasy no means yes, yes, yes. He’s reticent to open the door to the darker side of his sexuality, but with Jane’s patient guidance he finds he enjoys the role of aggressor. Perhaps more than he’s comfortable with. The role play stirs up a host of memories he’d rather forget, leaving him to wonder which is his true self—the sweet, romantic lover or the ravisher.

Reader Advisory: Descriptions of nonconsensual sex could be potentially triggering for some readers.

My Thoughts: Lately I have read some great stories with ravishment/non-consensual sex fantasy: Cara McKenna's Willing Victim and Lily Harlem and Natalie Dae's That Filthy Book are both novels I recommend, and since I was expecting the same kind of scorching hotness I was a bit let down by Ravish Me.

The set-up sounded great, but the dialogues were somewhat jerky, which stood in contrast to the better executed narrative.

Due to her strict religious upbringing Jane feels guilty when enjoying sex, so as she discovered with one of her ex-boyfriends what triggers her pleasure is feeling like it's not her decision, that she has to endure it. But that doesn't mean she relinquishes all power, she just wants to pretend that others are to "blame" for her pleasure, that she's in no way responsible for it:

She wanted him to rape her. No—she wanted him to pretend to rape her, and therein lay the difference. It was different. She’d spoken of a safety system, of boundaries. Clearly she exerted some control in the situation. It wasn’t a real loss of power, just a staged one. Still the thought stirred up a tangled mass of emotions, not the least of which were anger and sadness, but there was something else beneath all that, an undercurrent he wasn’t ready to face.

I found it interesting that her boyfriend Matthew was such a tender and emotional man. His love and affection, his tenderness towards Jane was much more obvious and palpable than hers for him:
Showered and dry, beneath a blanket on his sofa, Matthew folded his arms around Jane. Her head rested against his chest and the scent of her freshly washed hair filled his nostrils. An unnamed emotion twisted in his gut. It was something like love, but it hurt more. A thirst without end, a hunger that gnawed at his insides. And it grew with each passing day. She’d opened herself to him and he needed her now more than ever.

Since he loves Jane and wants to cherish her he is reluctant to play out such violent and upsetting scenes with her, at first he even can't go thrtough with them as he respects and loves her too much. But then he forces himself exactly because of his love for her, he wants to bring her pleasure, and if it is the only way for her to enjoy sex, then he is willing to subject himself to the unpleasant and awkward feelings. But when he starts to enjoy his power over her he finds himself terrified of becoming a monster.

When we discover more about Matthew's feelings and fears about this kind of role play that's when the story grew in depth, his inner turmoil was moving and Cindy Jacks even managed to shock me. It was the first time I heard of ravishment fantasies used as psychological treatment for sexually abused people:
Ravishment or nonconsensual role play can bring a sense of closure and it’s not unusual for a [...] victim of assault to play the ravisher. It can be very therapeutic. [it makes] you feel powerful where you once felt overpowered.
Counselors pointed out [...] that ravishment fantasy was indeed a safe, controlled way to act out [...] trauma and reclaim [...] sexuality.

Verdict: Ravish Me is somewhat different from the story I was expecting. I found the sex scenes only mildly hot, but the story has some hidden depth: it will shock you and may even move you to tears. Maybe not the best choice if you want some scorching hot ravishment story (pick up That Filthy Book instead), but if you want an emotional and original approach to this kind of role play then Ravish Me may be the book for you.

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Writing: 7/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 7/10

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