Book Review ~~~ Surrender Series #1

THE GUILDED CUFF by Lauren Smith

Every passion has its price . . .

Journalist Sophie Ryder has been following Emery Lockwood’s story since she was a little girl. There has always been something in his haunted eyes that she couldn’t resist and now, when she’s certain he holds the key to solving a string of kidnappings, she’ll do anything to speak to him. Even if it means venturing deep into the seductive world of the Gilded Cuff, a luxurious BDSM club on Long Island’s Gold Coast and Emery’s personal playground.

From the moment Sophie enters his shadowy, sensual domain, Emery Lockwood knows this tantalizing new little sub was meant to belong to him. However, Sophie wants more from Emery than just pleasure . . . she wants his past. And that is something he isn’t willing to give—no matter who is asking. But every moment he spends with Sophie, Emery feels his control slipping and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he surrenders to her heart, body, and soul.

Review – 3.25 stars

I won a copy of this, and book 2, a long time ago in a FB party. However the last few years I have seen me sign up for far too many arc books/teams, to the point that I wasn’t getting chance to read anything else. This year I’ve cut right back, and am determined that the majority of books will be ones I choose to read, rather than arc commitments.

So, on to what I thought of the book. Overall I enjoyed this, there were a few plot holes, a couple of continuity errors and this could never be considered BDSM in a month of Sundays, but it was still entertaining and good enough that I read it through to the end. This is a review that will probably focus on what stopped this being a 5 star read (and it had the right elements to get there) and will seem quite negative. So I will repeat again, this is between liked and really liked for me. It was a positive reading experience and I will continue with the series when time allows.

First of all, a very short spanking and set of cuffs does not a Dom make, I’ve read less vanilla sex scenes in pure contemporary romances. Emery was more of a Top than a Dom, the sheer fact that (quote) “He always gave her what she asked for” and he said “We’ll talk about this later. I want to know what’s upset you, but we’re running late”, said it all. The first quote makes me think of him more like a Daddy Dom, spoiling his Little sub something rotten. However no Dom worth his salt would EVER not want to know what was upsetting his sub immediately he was aware of her distress. I wish the author had not tried to go down the ‘kink’ road, the book would have worked so much better if he’s just been a man that liked to be more dominant/in control in the bedroom rather than keep saying he was a Dom but showing very little evidence.

The timeline is very short and left everything feeling far too “insta” for my tastes. However I went with the flow on it, especially given that I did feel the connection between Sophie and Emery. The chemistry between them allowed me to buy into them being swept away and indulging in unusual behaviour due to the tide of passion that they were caught up on. I’m not a huge fan of insta-love but strangely, despite my preference for a longer time line, I did buy into the depth of their feelings. It also helped that Sophie and Emery were both incredibly easy to like characters, not to mention that the plot was very interesting and easily held my attention.

Thankfully the majority of things that didn’t really work were so minor it didn’t throw me out of the story. For instance Sophie reminisces on how her heart was broken 5 years earlier, by a guy who didn’t respect her job as an investigative journalist. That would have made her 19, which seems very young for such a job – don’t most journalists need a degree first? At 24 she still barely had the life experience for the job, at 19 I’m sure she’d have just been making the coffee! There was a slight paranormal/sixth sense explanation for some of her work success, which personally I didn’t mind and, for me, it did strengthen the story line.

For someone as security paranoid as Emery, with a tech firm that had some amazing gadgets, somehow the bad guy managed to plant a bug in the property? He couldn’t get into the property to finish Emery off but he could get in to plant a bug? Hmmm, plot hole. There were also a couple of continuity type things – a soaking wet T-shirt being described as pyjama’s (though she had slept in them so perhaps in the US that term might be used), a set of leather cuffs morphing into gilded cuffs before being replaced with – yep – leather cuffs, and a reference to Sophie being 11 when her friend was abducted, when every other reference said 7.

However despite that I still liked this book. As a romantic suspense it does a good job, it wasn’t too far fetched or too predictable.

Amazon –

5 stars – This is a book I will not forget and would definitely read again.

4 stars – I really enjoyed this book, I might not read it again but I would definitely recommend it to others.

3 stars – This story was good but either forgettable or just very typical of its genre.

2 stars – Whilst the book was readable I either didn’t enjoy parts of the plot or just could not connect to the main characters.

1 star – This is a book I simply could not finish for reasons listed in the review.

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