One of the most fascinating, well-written, carefully thought-out stories I have ever come across, the Asking For It duet is nothing short of electrifying, and it owned my breath cover to cover. While its key theme might deter some readers from tipping their toes into this story, I remain in awe of the author’s ability to handle a rather problematic topic in such meticulous detail, intelligently and responsibly, never glorifying any vile acts, but rather giving her characters a chance to express themselves in all their damaged glory, free from judgment and condemnation, and even find some self-acceptance in the end. If you’re not afraid of the taboo, if you are able to perceive some themes in fiction as just that, without giving them the unnecessary dimension of reality, if you enjoy exploring on occasion a darker but not any less titillating brand of erotic romance, I urge you with all my heart to give this crazy-wonderful story a chance. You might find yourself loving it just as much as I did!
“The hands that caress me hold me down; the moan of satisfaction I imagine turns into screams for help, screams no one hears. As the fantasy becomes more savage, more brutal, I glory in it more and more.”
Vivienne and Jonah’s relationship had reached an impasse at the end of their first book, leaving us with the lingering question whether the darkness that brought them together and forever tied to one another—the fantasy that they both hate but cannot seem to escape—would ultimately tear them apart too. As we remain in the heroine’s head, we continue witnessing the inner struggle that has been Vivienne’s constant companion in her adult life. Even though she has slowly come to terms with her body’s response to her sexual fetish, to the violent aspect of it, and its intoxicating effect on her mind, she continues berating herself for needing that fantasy every single time in order to achieve sexual gratification. She struggles to reconcile her sexual desires with the kind of independent, emancipated woman she is outside the bedroom, that dichotomy tearing at her self-esteem and leaving her powerless.
“Jonah understood what I needed and how to give it to me. He let me become a victim; I let him become a monster.”
We also get to finally peel off more and more layers of Jonah’s complex personality, even glimpsing his greatest demons first hand and the source of all the relentless anger and pain churning inside him, but once we discover what hides within his darkness, that knowledge only serves to leave us even more uncertain of the fate of their relationship.
“Jonah is like one of the dormant volcanoes he studies—solid as stone, proud as a mountain, seemingly implacable but with a fire deep within that could erupt at any time.”
With each step they take forward as a couple, letting one another deeper and deeper into each other’s secrets, and loving each other unabashedly, it becomes clear that their connection goes far beyond their mutual desires and the ability to please and understand one another’s needs as no one else could. But they also become increasingly aware that while their sexual attraction and compatibility could never be questioned, the fire blazing between them could end up swallowing them whole.
“We are bound together and yet parted. Two halves that can’t be glued into a whole. Maybe that’s how it is when you find someone whose wounds are the same as your own.”
This is an outstandingly conceived story of self-acceptance, of embracing our own wounds, scars, flaws, and finding comfort in the knowledge that being damaged does not make any of us ‘abnormal’ or unworthy of love. No matter how deep their wounds are and how permanent their effect is on their psychological make-up, characters like these show us that they can become more than just the sum of their weaknesses, that their love can transcend it all, empowering them to become functional individuals in every sense of the word, rather than crippling them and pushing them even deeper into their demons’ arms. A daring tale that was truly impossible to put down, showcasing not only Ms Pace’s impressive storytelling skills, but also her ability to frame a person’s most startling shortcomings as sources of strength and power—I am afraid I could never fully express how much this story has amazed me with its honesty, fearlessness and insight into a dark theme I never expected to quite enjoy so much. Stories like these give us hope that no matter how much harm is inflicted upon us, we are never truly broken. And only we can put the pieces back together. Bravo!
“My power over him comes from my powerlessness in his arms. The paradox intoxicates us both.”
“One of the trickiest things about writing BEGGING FOR IT was the fact that it was a sequel. How do you create the necessary emotional and sexual tension between two characters who already had a big story arc in book one? And how do you work in a review of the plot elements readers need to remember while maintaining a sense of the erotic? (When playing a word-association game, few people would answer “exposition” with “sexy.”) However, this excerpt ended up balancing all of those needs. Vivienne is waiting for Jonah, on edge, yearning for him—but with that slight frisson of fear that so often accompanies their “games.” So it’s natural for her to review the limits they agreed to—the things Jonah will and won’t do to her–both to calm herself and to get even more turned on. Writers are always thrilled to discover they’ve found a way to marry the practical needs of the plot with the inner lives of the characters, so this scene made me very happy. And also—I mean, waiting for Jonah Marks? Oh, my God. Just the thought turns me on. If you guys like that idea half as much as I do, you’ll understand my other reason for loving this scene!” —Lilah Pace
I don’t know if Jonah will come to me tonight. I don’t know what he’ll do if he does; the nature of my ultimatum means he’ll have total control over the scenario, if we do return to our games.
However, I know some things he absolutely won’t do.
When Jonah and I first agreed to do this, before we knew anything about each other but our names and our desires, we laid down extremely clear boundaries:
- He can never threaten me with a weapon.
- He can slap me around, even hurt me, but not to the point of serious pain or injury.
- He will not take photographs or video of his “attacks.”
- He will not come on me.
That last one seems so mundane, I know—but Anthony did that when he raped me, and the horror of that moment has stayed with me always. Initially I had other boundaries for Jonah as well, but as our games continued and he earned my trust, I let those boundaries fall. He can tie me up now if he wants. He can even fuck me in the ass.
(Jonah’s the only man who’s ever done that to me, and we only got around to it once. I wonder if he’ll take my ass again tonight.)
I have to obey certain boundaries too:
- I can fight back, but can’t leave marks or injuries he’d have to explain later.
- If anyone ever sees part of what’s going on and misunderstands, I have to put aside my embarrassment and defend Jonah if necessary.
- And I may not call him daddy—a rule I thought was funny when he first laid it down. Now that I know the truth about Carter Hale, Jonah’s need for that rule sickens me, makes me bleed for him inside.
Of course we have a safe word. Silver. I’ve had to use it with him twice so far. Tonight won’t be the third time, I feel sure. Tonight I think I could take anything, if only Jonah will come to me.
I know he might not. Yet I’m already aching for it, the heat between my legs as tight as a clenched fist. As I park my car in front of my little house, I think, Please, Jonah, don’t make me wait much longer.
Even though I know Jonah would never show up early for one of our games, my heart leaps into my throat the minute I walk inside my house. Every rustle of the wind through the trees outside makes me imagine him walking closer. Every creak of the wooden floorboards brings back the memory of him walking toward me in the night, dressed in black, ready to take me down.
Two and a half hours until I unlock my door.
I make myself a simple omelet for dinner, eat it at my tiny table. It occurs to me I’ve never cooked for Jonah. Not that I’m some sort of master chef—anything but. Still, we’ve skipped over so many of the usual, gentler milestones of intimacy. I’d like to make up for that, if I get the chance.
Just not tonight.
I wash the dishes. I take a shower, slathering myself with vanilla-scented body scrub so every inch of my skin will feel like silk. Every place my fingers touch, I imagine being touched by Jonah. He’s gripped me there, bruised me, kissed me.
Afterward I blow-dry my honey-brown hair, trouble I’d never take to just sit at the house alone. I’d usually change into a shapeless T-shirt and leggings after an evening shower; tonight, I slip into a silky white robe. Nothing else. It will be easy for Jonah to peel the robe off. Maybe he’ll use the sash to tie me up.
Assuming he comes here at all, I remind myself. I’m trying to brace myself in case he doesn’t come. Though losing Jonah would crush me no matter what, I want to at least be . . . prepared.
So I try to read, but while my eyes scan over the words, my brain refuses to make sense of them. I go over the same paragraph time and again, attempting to concentrate on the here and now. It never works. Netflix offers me a TV show I’ve been meaning to catch up on, but it’s just colors and light projected from a screen. Meaningless. All I can think about is my ever-quickening pulse, and the progression of the hands around the clock.
9:59. One whole minute early, I walk to my tiny kitchenette, take a deep breath, and unlock the door. Then I cut off all the lights in the house except for one small lamp in my bedroom—the one farthest from the bed. Now I can only lie down and wait.
Will he come in? Is he out there already?
It hits me then: Of course he is. Even if Jonah has no intention of having sex with me tonight, he’s still outside. Because I told him I’d leave the door unlocked for one hour. That means I’m a little bit less safe.
And Jonah—who has tied me, fought me, held me down, bruised me, had me at his mercy—would always want to protect me.
Our relationship is pure paradox.
Or it was. I’ll find out within the hour.
But down deep, I had hoped he would come through the door almost as soon as I’d slid back the bolt. He hasn’t. Jonah must be parked across the street even now, sitting behind the wheel of his car, listening to the radio and not coming in. On some level he wants to; I know that. Wanting isn’t enough.
In the darkness outside, Jonah is fighting a battle inside his own head.
Fifteen minutes go by. Twenty. Arousal begins to fade into sorrow.
I roll onto my belly in the bed, the pillow cool against my flushed face. Now I feel foolish, even manipulative. What do you mean, giving someone an order to fuck you or else? Jonah doesn’t want to hurt you—he’s uncomfortable with our rape fantasy. Shouldn’t he be? Aren’t you?
My ears prick up. My breath catches. You imagined that sound. Just like you’ve been doing all night. You only think that’s the sound of the door hinges—
Then I hear Jonah’s footstep on the floor.