Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review of Power Exchange by A.J. Rose

A.J. Rose
Power Exchange (Power Exchange #1)
Voodoo Lily Press | September 15, 2012 | 270 pages

Author’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here

From the moment Detective Gavin DeGrassi steps into the world of BDSM to solve the brutal slaying of Dom George Kaiser, his course is not his own. Mesmerized by the context in which the victim lived and the images of the lifestyle seared into his soul, Gavin must find a way to navigate these unknown waters.
With his personal life in upheaval due to marital trouble, and his professional life uncertain with the assignment of a new partner, Gavin needs all the help he can get understanding the case.
Enter Ben Haverson, a psychologist and a well known Dom. With Ben’s help as a consultant and attention to Gavin's own murky truths, Gavin delves deeper than he ever thought he would into the world of restraints and paddles. Forced to scrutinize his true nature and his innermost desires, Gavin has a choice: keep the fear of submitting at bay, or dive in and solve the case with the knowledge he gains. When another victim is discovered, Gavin’s choice is made for him, and he’s pulled headlong into the deepest, most emotional journey of his life.
Unfortunately for him and Ben, a killer has noticed, has taken stock, and has set his sights on the D/s pair. Can Gavin outwit him, or will his first exchange of power be his last?

Genre & Keywords: M/M Romance, Contemporary, Detective, Mystery, BDSM, Suspense, Coming Out

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3 flames

I've read Power Exchange a while ago but could still remember it vividly. Its unique coupling and intense mystery setting stand out. Also the careful and intriguing character development made this story memorable. Apparently, I forgot to write a review about it then, but it was not a hardship at all to reread it in order to write my review now.
Gavin and Ben's attraction is palpable and nicely built up. Gavin goes through major changes when it comes to his sexuality and preferences in the bedroom. Ben is the perfect partner to guide him through all this. I thought Gavin's development is done believable, especially since it definitely had the potential to become incredible in more than one instance. Yet it never really did.

The story has plenty of elements that I like: a suspenseful mystery, good police work, coming-out theme, hot BDSM and bondage explorations, great secondary characters, emotional sex scenes. Sure, it also has the evil wife, later ex-wife, and the homophobic partner in the police force, who both are rather cliche and one-dimensional characters. But it's not like the rest of the characters are this flat. I quite enjoyed Gavin's relationship with his brother Cole for example. It felt real and authentic. I also liked witnessing the dynamics going on in their family, a typical family of cops, with not only their father being a cop but Gavin’s brothers as well.

The story is told from Gavin's point of view in first person, which makes that we're with him all the way while he goes through his wide range of emotions, his police investigation and also the quite shocking and heartbreaking scenes in the end about which I can't say much without spoilers. This limited perspective is intense and therefore a good choice, but it also made me miss a bit of depth in Ben's character. Still, the author did a good job conveying Ben's feelings and viewpoint on the romantic relationship via Gavin's POV. And Ben is definitely one sexy Dom. Yowza! As I said before he's the perfect partner for Gavin to help him explore all these new feelings. That's because he's an intuitive, careful and very understanding man.

The police investigation revolves around a series of violent and torturous murders in the BDSM scene. These murders not only help commence Gavin's journey of sexual discovery but also provide a solid, suspenseful story arc of its own. The police work has a procedural feel and - although it was obvious early on who the killer was - this arc is written as a whodunit, albeit blessedly mixed with the sexiness and pace of the romantic arc. I thought it was as far as suspense arcs go, one of the better and most heart-stopping ones in the romantic suspense genre. But I must admit that Gavin's professional behavior was more than once overshadowed by his personal feelings, which caused an unnecessary delay in solving the mystery of the murders.

After the climatic last part of this story I was glad to learn that Gavin and Ben would get a sequel, Safeword. It's been released earlier this month and I can't wait to find out how this sexy and compatible couple will progress after dealing with the heartbreaking ordeal they went through. I hope they continue their scorching hot explorations of bondage and submission together, but I'm sure they'll have to overcome some big issues first on their road to happiness.

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