Giving It Up by Audra North and Looking for a Complication by Tamsen Parker from the First TIme Anthology
Giving It Up by Audra North
I absolutely loved this book when I read it months ago. I am so glad it is finally its release day. The storytelling was great, emotional, humorous and well-paced.
The setup to this story is that the heroine Beatrice is professional photographer struggling to make ends meet. Beatrice is working a friend's wedding and trying to get a good shot of one of the groomsmen, Warren Davis. She is usually hyper aware of him because she of her frustrating attraction to him and his seeming desire to avoid her. When he ducks out of the reception to take a call, just when she needs him for a group shot, she follows him to confront him and ends up overhearing him talking to professional Domme service. She impulsively proposes that he hire her instead.
Lots of things about this story appeal to me. Both the hero and heroine have a lot of in common, but they have a hard time recognizing it.
Warren is interested in seeing a Domme because he has a high-stress job and has no release in his personal life. Tired and overwhelmed from years of over-performing in order take care of his family, he feels overstretch and isolated. He is looking for one place in his life where he doesn't have to be in charge.
Beatrice family was oppressively repressive and while she is estranged from them she still struggles to express desire and wants forcefully.
Both the hero and heroine are afraid of rejection and risking their feelings. Taking this risk together is huge challenge to both of them, and struggle mightily against the boundaries they intentionally set up and just as quickly breach. I loved seeing their struggle to see that they could find love and release together.
Looking for A Complication by Tamsen Parker (Novella included in the For the First Time anthology)
Astrid and Kinsey's story begins with a collision that sparks mutual wary interest and attraction in both heroines. Whether that attraction and interest will be ignited is at the heart of the story's central conflict.
The For the First Time Anthology includes 21 stories for .99 cents. I read only a couple of them before I jumped ahead to read Parker's story. It takes special skill to communicate a satisfyingly complete romantic arc is less than 1oK words without skimping on worldbuilding but Parker does so in a way that is sexy, swoony and fun while tackling emotionally charged situations in believable way. I think Parker's novella is worth the price of the whole anthology.