Title: Haven (Beards & Bondage #1)
Author: Rebekah Weatherspoon
Publication Date: April 25th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★/ 4 Stars
Genre: BDSM, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica
A week-long getaway…
City girl Claudia Cade’s carefree life is plunged into chaos when a camping trip with her brother in the national forests of Northern California turns into a deadly dash for her survival.
A solitary world turned upside down…
Nature photographer Shepard Olsen has resigned himself to a quiet existence, with only his dog by his side, until a woman in need of his protection shows up on his doorstep and throws his universe into disarray.
Two lives linked by tragedy…
Claudia is desperate to heal from her traumatic loss, but can’t stop thinking about her run-in with evil….or the grizzled mountain man whose quick thinking and good aim saved her life. When she shows up on Shep’s doorstep again, she finds she isn’t the only one who can’t move on.
…saved by bliss.
The two begin an intense, passionate relationship of Dominance and submission, pleasure and pain, but with dark memories haunting them and decisions about the future rapidly approaching, Claudia can’t help but wonder…how long can they be each other’s haven?
I received a free eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warning: Assault, murder and mention of blood in the very beginning of the novel.
I am honestly not the same fan of smut as I used to be due to the usual reasons that many others are apprehensive: smutty books don’t tend to be very great when they deal with consent. Plus, many authors use abuse as a plot device and that totally puts me off. HAVEN however, is entirely not like that.
It is written by a black woman who clearly researched how a BDSM relationships works and combined her clearly excellent character building kills in writing this story.
As you read from the blurb, Claudia and Shep are very much drawn to each other because of the trauma they shared. I very much liked how Claudia’s panic attacks were addressed and how Shep was so good at handling her at her moments of weakness. Claudia is an outspoken, very humorous girl who can’t help but talk back even to the gigantic bearded mountain man who is capable of picking her up off of her feet in a second. And that’s what makes her ever so irresistible to Shep. I really liked Shep: he was this gentle, caring man who loved his dog, had a sense of loyalty to Claudia and was very private. Reading his point of view was a lovely experience because he is entirely appealing. It’s like someone looked into the heterosexual woman’s mind and found out the burly sensitive dinner cooking photographer macho man they love. He’s really great.
It also is great that Weatherspoon has amazing black main female characters who harbor great ambitions but aren’t afraid of being vulnerable. Claudia has a good support system of friends but she still can’t manage to handle the trauma with anyone but with Shep. I also liked the mention that the therapist she went to see first didn’t work out for her. It felt realistic enough that not every therapist you meet will be a good helpful one.
To touch on the BDSM part: it was good. I liked that they talked about what they were comfortable with and it felt like they were on equal footing about what they wanted from each other. Shep and Claudia definitely do a lot of bonding and talking, they felt like good friends even when they weren’t having sex.
I definitely recommend this to BDSM fans who love a good story of people healing together.
I’ve been meaning to edit this review after talking to a friend on Twitter about this book.
To be quite honest: I was bothered by the sex scenes. Yes, you’ll probably say: “It’s erotica, Mariam, it’s supposed to have that much sex!” and I don’t mind that. I just wish that the sex scenes didn’t overwhelm the plot.
I honestly wish this book was fifty pages longer with more laughter, more talk, maybe even some more angst that’s dealt with, and more involvement of the town people and Claudia’s friends. I really liked Shep and Claudia’s relationship but it did feel somehow rushed and like they just wanted to bury the trauma of what happened with sex. I don’t mind that, go ahead, but like, I don’t like the fast-pace in which that happened. The sex scenes made me really uncomfortable and I’m a bisexual pal. Like, I don’t mind sex at all, in its detail, but every time there would be a sex scene I found myself cringing.
Now, this is not a dig at the author, she wrote it very nicely but the amount of smut somewhat bored me. Only two scenes actually made me feel some sort of way. I really wish that the author would give the couple more development. I want to see them in more situations together. I wished that Shep had gone to see Claudia or done something beside pine in the mountain, but fine, it’s his thing I guess.
Anyway, just wanted to add this bit for my ace friends who are not very comfortable about sex: this one might not be for you.
Thank you for reading. And please don’t take this the wrong way as in me being racist and rating this badly (four stars isn’t bad,) because she’s a black woman.