Stephan has lived the lifestyle of a Dominant for five years. After several rebellious teenage years, it gave him the stability and control he had been seeking after his parent’s death.
As president of a not-for-profit foundation, he knows what his future holds and what he wants out of life. All that changes when a simple lunch with his college friend and Mentor, Darren, leads him to buying a slave.
Thrust into a situation he never thought he’d be in, Stephan can’t walk away. He is compelled to help this girl in the only way he knows how.
Brianna knows only one thing, she is a slave. She has nothing. She is nothing. Can Stephan help Brianna realize that she is much more than just a Slave?
Human trafficking is a blight on the planet Earth and is one of the most lucrative businesses alive today. Thousands of human beings are kidnapped and sold into slavery in the United States every year, most of whom are transported to locations outside the U. S. and are never seen or heard of again. They disappear into a private "slave collection," brothels of varying degrees of degradation, or when they are no longer able to "perform" are driven on to the streets of a foreign country or abandoned to die of terminal illness or severe damage. The hero in this story knew all this, wanted nothing to do with human sex trade practices. But when he found out that a young girl was being kept as a "slave" by a known sadist, a man the BDSM community had less than a good opinion of, Stephan took matters into his own hands, "bought" this young girl, barely 18 years of age, and brought her into his home with the intent of trying to give her a life back and undo the damage done to her. She was called Brianna by her "master" and all who knew her in the BDSM context. When a long-time friend recognized her on one of her infrequent outings with Stephan, he called her "Anna" as that is what she had been called throughout her life with her mother and then living with the dad that betrayed her trust.
This is really not about BDSM practice between a Dom and sub so much as it is about the dastardly effects to a beautiful young woman sold to a sadist without boundaries or conscience, and who is now merely a shell of a human being. Stephan is certainly a Dom and knows his way around a D/s relationship. But this new challenge of literally rebuilding a human being who has been so destroyed by a lifestyle he loves is a totally new thing for him. His compassion and his growing awareness of her, his insight into what is going through her mind whenever he speaks even the most insignificant words to her, his desire to see her reclaim her total humanity is the core of this story. While the novel focuses on Brianna as the victim who is rescued, the novel also highlights the growth that Stephan experiences as he searches for ways to give Brianna back a sense of self while using her "training" to get her to cooperate with the simple rules he wants for her--things like texting him hourly as a way of getting her not to become obsessed with her worries about whether she is pleasing him. Since she sees him as her new "master" she is obedient and he can work with that sense of obedience to get her to do things she needs to do to care for herself, to read again, to begin cooking (something she really loved to do), to go outside the home to shop as a way of getting her back into society.
All in all this is a compelling and very emotional book. I have read a few reviews that criticize the character of Brianna because she seems to fall back into destructive behavior so often. Well . . . anyone who has ever been around anyone who has been subjected to pain and torture as a means of behavior modification (veterans will understand this) knows that it is almost always a matter of "one step forward, two steps backward" with many flashbacks and periods of remembered terror. Stephan was a man of conscience and I was amazed at his patience and the way he developed consistent routines to put Brianna at ease so that she could begin building trust in another human being. Even though his emotional attachment grew into love and desire, he was a man who controlled himself for her sake and because he recognized her fragile condition and cared more about her than achieving his selfish goals.
This is an amazing book and one that I think needed to be written. I found it on Net Galley and although it was originally released in 2011, it is now being re-released. It is a wonderful story and the first in a trilogy about Stephan and Brianna's relationship. I hope you'll think seriously about reading this novel. I give it a 4.25 out of 5.
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