Our third return to the alluring world of the Bee’s Honey was everything I hoped it would be, and so much more. Kristen Ashley takes our breath away with one of her most erotic yet tender romances to date, the story of two broken souls who mend each other piece by piece, only to discover a love that neither of them ever expected to find in life. Two of the Honey’s most enigmatic Dominants, Sixx and Stellan prove to be two of its most complex and fascinating characters, too, and through the author’s lush writing style, we watch them being broken wide open before they are slowly put back together in the most marvellous of ways. Kristen Ashley’s consummate understanding of her characters’ every nuance pulls us into the story like a tide, delivering a story that is moving, intimate, and satisfying on every level.
“You think he’s too good for you? You think he’s got it all together and won’t want to put up with a mess like you? … He’ll go all in for you. Stellan finds the one that’s worth it, he’ll break his back, sell his soul, work his fingers to the bone to win her and keep her.”
As one of the Honey’s most revered Mistresses, Simone “Sixx” Marchesa has worked hard to keep her emotions masked behind an impenetrable façade of impassivity and self-control. But underneath her leather-clad exterior hides a young woman who feels unworthy of true happiness; a woman who was born to nothing and who protects herself by drifting through life and forging very few real connections; a woman whose heart aches for a man she won’t allow herself to have because by not taking a shot, she believes she is protecting him from all that is her.
I’d make you like it, she said in her head. I’d make you beg for it. I’d break my back, sell my soul, do anything I’d need to do to make you come harder than you’ve ever come before, tying you to me, connecting you to me, making you never want to leave. He held her gaze, his face arrogant and knowing. Or I’d give it to you, her mind whispered. Anything you wanted, anything you’d want to do to me to give you what you needed in a way that need could never be eased and you’d always come back for more. He kept holding her gaze, but in the dim light of the bar of the Bee’s Honey, she could swear she saw something in his expression grow soft, like he could read her thoughts.
But Stellan Lange—multimillionaire developer and the Honey’s most illustrious Dom—has been biding his time all along, watching Sixx from afar, and preparing to claim her as his own. Because underneath her leather-clad exterior also hides a woman craving to submit to a man like Stellan. And he knows just how to bring her into the light.
“You sit here as mine, Simone.”
And so begins a tantalizing, even heartbreaking at times, battle of wills between a woman who has spent her adult life taking risks with every single part of herself except her heart, and a man desperate to give her everything she could ever need or want, if only she’d let him. She fights him, she tries to sabotage her own happiness at every turn, but deep down, the one thing Simone fears the most is that Stellan might eventually give up on her.
“I can give you beauty,” he clipped irritably.
“What I don’t understand, baby,” she whispered, “is why you think I deserve it.”
“If you ask me that question in a month, darling, I’ll walk away from you, and you’ll never see me again. That is my vow to you, Simone. By the end of the month, I’ll make you understand.”
The detail with which Kristen Ashley lovingly renders every gritty contour of Simone’s character took my breath away. She creates such a multilayered, interesting heroine, full of inner contradictions, yet deeply aware of every single one of them, and her emotional depth is made all the more impressive by how entirely inaccessible she appears on the surface. In the safety of Stellan’s unwavering love, we watch Simone slowly shed her defences and uncover her true self, and her emotional transformation is utterly riveting.
He knew Simone Marchesa was treading water, failing in her efforts not to go under, and not much caring if the current pulled her away. So the game had to be played not only so Stellan could drag her to safety. But so he could lift her up. Then at his side he’d take her to the highest peak. And once he got her there, she’d never, not fucking ever, look back down. She’d been held down long enough.
I knew this would be a story that I’d love from the start, the very premise of two sexual Dominants falling in love with one another making my skin quiver at the mere thought of it, but this story proved to be so much more than just a love story. It dives deep into the human condition and it doesn’t flinch at what it finds there. It moved me in ways I didn’t expect, it forced me to step into these characters’ shoes in order to understand them better, and it left me utterly amazed by all it’s made me feel. An absolute must read.
“Be strong for the world, darling, if that’s what you need to be. But here, with me, you can be whatever you care to be.”