*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: The Queen is a successful CEO married to one of the most powerful men in the country. Not only is she a sexual assault survivor, she’s battling individual men, general accepted misogyny, and corporate business matters on a day to day basis. She’s successful, powerful, corrupt, and manipulative – everything you need to be a class A bitch. Fighting for her right to a woman’s place in the corporate business world, it’s just another day for her at the office and she’s used to it. But while her successful renowned husband decides to admit one of his deepest secrets, her world begins to change forcing her to step up her game with the push and pull of control.
Michael James is one of the world’s most successful business owners. As a household name, you rely heavily on the companies he owns, runs and invests in for services and items. He’s seen in the news on a regular basis but keeps his personal life surprisingly hidden. He controls everything and everyone around him, no matter what the price or what it takes. So when his darkest secret is revealed, it forces him to control more than ever before. Determined to get his life back in order, to protect his reputation and public identity, and to ensure his wife’s life, how far will he go?
The celebrity life is exquisite and filled with the absolute finest of all items. But hidden from the world may be a dark sex life you could never imagine. So when one of the world’s most famous couples attempts to deal with a detrimental secret in private, deceit begins to entangle their relationship. From the bestselling erotica writer Lisa Andrew, comes this sexy psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.
There is a VERY important foreword to this book, that clarifies the author’s view on consent in fiction and in reality. I am very glad Lisa Andrew included this note, as there is a lot of dubious consent and non-consensual sexual activity in the story and the reader is both forewarned of that and reminded that it is in fact that – a story.
Initially the book reads like an erotic wish fulfilment fantasy. Michael James and his wife, referred to for most of the book as ‘The Queen’, are an idealised power couple in public: beautiful, rich, powerful. Each is CEO of their own company/ies. In private, we are told that they are equally compatible: he dominant and her submissive, but with rules, respect, a perfect understanding. They meet each other’s different needs and enjoy what is implied to be quite kinky and extreme play.
The author has clearly researched into the BDSM scene and is aware of the importance of such a clear understanding, of safe words, of attentive aftercare, of trust. She stresses that the submissive holds power in forms of the limitations and restrictions on play, and that the release comes from acting within the defined and accepted roles and pushing the boundaries but safely, together.
However it doesn’t take long for the reader to realise that something has gone wrong between Michael James and his Queen. They tell themselves how much they love and adore each other, but we gradually find out that they both have secrets from each other, and that their dominant/submissive roles are nowhere near as clear or as agreed as we first thought.
Although the book is named after the male character, the focus is really on The Queen for most of the story. And her story arc is a dark and disturbing one, featuring regular sexual assault and harassment which she has internalised as her being in control because she chooses to accept the abuse and welcome it, even when she does not want it. This made my heart ache for her, and I felt that her attitudes, reactions and rationalisations were consistent with how some people process such trauma in reality. However, she remains a strong character too, showing both the brittle strength of a fake male/fake bitch facade, and the inner strength of a survivor who can pick themselves up from the floor and face the things they fear.
Ultimately, whilst packed with explicit, detailed, dirty sex this story is really about power and control. Power and control over other people, but perhaps especially over oneself. This is not an easy read, but it is dark and simultaneously erotic and disturbing.
All decisions are made by him and he has the final say. Answers are persuaded and reflected by the tone of his voice, and if she’s correct he’s interested. But it also has elements of work or strain involved on her part. Even if her plan doesn’t work out, he’ll most likely enjoy what he wants. And the sky’s the limit in the privacy of their own home.
There’s no pressure because there’s no one there to watch them, there’s no one else to judge them or what they do together, it’s simply just how they want to play.
– Lisa Andrew, Michael James
Michael James is available on Amazon right now!