I chose this title based on enjoying the author’s other books and a skim of the description rather than reading closely, so the dominance/submission aspects caught me by surprise when I should have picked up on this line from late in the blurb: “with an intense sexual attraction that combines a heady mix of exquisite pleasure and sublime pain.” Some of the store descriptions are the same as the one I had while others are different, and a quick skim of the reviews with the one I had shows the same confusion.
I will state again. This is a highly erotic book with strong dominance and submission scenes. If that’s not to your taste, you probably should walk away.
I read 50 Shades of Gray because a friend asked me to analyze it, which I did. It’s not my normal reading material, nor something I appreciate. Having said that, though, Avenge Me solved much of what I found problematic in the other, presenting a view of the people drawn to this kind of sexual connection that seems more in line with the community for all Austin hated himself at first. Both Austin and Katy learn to accept this part of themselves while coming to understand the difference between consenting adults engaging in it and dominating someone against their will, a critical lesson to my mind.
With that misunderstanding out of the way, here is my actual review.
This is a fascinating, complicated novel with about every trigger word in the lexicon. It is a crusade against the abuse of women by powerful and rich men who misuse that power. At the same time, it’s a bondage/dominance love story exposing the way BD works for people who need that and showing how it is different from abuse at every level.
I have no direct experience with the community, so I’m only guessing, but I think this book would meet their approval over something like Shades of Gray. It shows the path of acceptance of who you are as Austin meets a match for desires he’d always seen as twisted. He hates himself the more for them when he discovers his father is responsible for driving a female friend to suicide, but Katy helps him understand the critical differences between him and his father.
This suicide forms the foundation for this novel and the series. On the anniversary of their friend’s death, Austin and two others come together to seek revenge against Austin’s father who uses his position to force women in his employ to submit to his will. The two others have little presence in this novel, though, as it focuses tightly on Austin and Katy.
Katy is also seeking revenge when she crosses paths with Austin, but when their instant attraction takes a dominance turn, she finally finds what she’s been looking for in a relationship. She understands the difference between how he asks for her consent and how his father glories in making the women he abuses fear him.
This is not a book for the light-hearted. It is graphic and emotionally brutal. This is powerful on so many levels and ultimately gives the right message on all of them as it identifies the key elements of consent and mutual desires in any healthy relationship, sexual or emotional, while condemning those who would use their position to harm others.
I would not have chosen this book with a full understanding, and am unlikely to seek out the others, but I’m not unhappy that I read it as it has much to offer in both a strong love—and acceptance—story and a clear statement against abuse.
P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.