Are you experiencing BDSM-romance exhaustion? I am. I have mostly moved away from reading books where BDSM is big part of the story, which is why I almost missed reading Tamsen Parker's excellent Personal Geography (The Compass Series Book 1) . I will also admit to being wary because I know Personal Geography is only part 1 of a story, and I knew I wouldn't get a HEA till its sequel, Intimate Geography comes out in March.
I am very happy however to have received a review request from Parker. I frequently interact with her on Twitter and really enjoyed her short-story "Needs" in the Winter Rain anthology and that combined with her assurance that there is a really good HEA will be coming, convinced me to give the book a try.
Despite my caution I really enjoyed Personal Geography mostly because I really liked the heroine. India is extremely competent and hardworking consultant. She comes in and straightens out the finances and everyday operations of failing agencies. Her job is high stress (crazy intense boss) and high stakes (media scrutiny & political consequences). Several years in the past, India exited a long-term D/s relationship over a deep betrayal of trust. The ending of that relationship radically changed the course of her life. With the help of her best friend Reyes, she has rebuilt her life, and has found a way to have her sexual/kink needs met through a series of short-term encounters, with dominants who Reyes has carefully vetted. She sets the terms, and walk away when she wants to. The fact that these relationships are void of emotional intimacy are feature not a bug for India.
Cris Admore is the latest Dom to get a call from Reyes with an invitation he can’t resist. Cris has recently had long-term relationship end, and is open to accepting India’s terms with some modifications. He wants a chance to talk to her beforehand. It is a minor change, but one that has reprecussion in the way they interact. Both India and Cris know getting to know each other outside the roles they play sexually can change everything. He uses this little change to India’s contract as a wedge to start breaking through her anti-intimacy wall.
Predictably the more he knows her, the more he talks to her, the more they grow to depend on each other and when India realizes just how much she has become entangled in him, how tempted she is to be more for him, she recoils, violently and decisively. As a reader I wanted to yell at her for not being willing to take that step, while completely understanding why doesn't dare.
At the end of the first half of India & Cris’s story, I was left eager for more, but not frustrated. As a reader I am rooting for Cris and India, they have some big hurdles to overcome. While the end can be characterized as a cliff-hanger, I didn't feel fear as much as anticipation about what this development will mean for India & Cris. I will be eagerly awaiting the second half of their story.
And I hope Parker does write a story for Reyes some day.
I received a review copy of Personal Geography from the author, Tamsen Parker.