Series : Beards and Bondage #1
Publisher : Self-published
Genre : New Adult | Romance – Erotica
Page Count : 228
Synopsis : 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?
Content Warning; Assault and Murder (at the very beginning)
*I got a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
OH. WOW. I’ve seen a few of my friends over on twitter talking about how good this book is and I thought “I’ll add it to the TBR and maybe get to it one day” but THEN, I was told that it was on Netgalley and literally run to get it and I SO DON’T REGRET THAT DECISION because it’s just so good, it has all the element a good smut book needs and then some, I think I’ve said this in EVERY New Adult book review I’ve written but I am SO glad to be back on this horse, I don’t even know why I stopped reading them in the first place *cough* same characters *cough* same things happening *cough* boring, but the ones I’ve picked up lately are truely a blessing.
Back to the book at hand. The writing is blunt and straight forward, the sex scenes are far from being sugar coated, it’s very graphic. The author isn’t afraid of using the words as they are and I really appreciated that. You know me by now, I like my flowery writing BUT I only do when it’s needed, which wasn’t the case here, it wouldn’t have made sense with the content of the book, so the writing style is exactly what’s needed.
I loved how Haven starts, it throws you right into a very fast paced action scene that gets your heart rate going. And no, NOT the sexy kind of action, I’m talking more of a being chased by a murderer kind of action. And even after that, the story takes its time to show the two characters coping on their own before bringing them together and giving us all the smut we need in our lives.
Listen, you’re not ready for how sex positive this book is. I know I wasn’t. I’ve read my fair share of BDSM books where I cringed and felt uncomfortable because of how unhealthy the dominant/submissive relationship was *cough* 50 shades of cringe *cough*. The consent lines are blurred, the rules aren’t set and it’s just a very harmful depiction all around. And BLESS, that wasn’t the case here, there are on page conversations where Shep who is old to the lifestyle explains in full detail what’s done and what isn’t and asks Claudia if she was comfortable with it all.
AND THE SWEET SWEET ROMANCE. Excuse me if I’m enthusiastic about this book to the point of throwing all caps here and there but it’s just such a well balanced story, hot sex on one side and swoon worthy love on the other. Their chemistry is so palpable, and their banter AMAZING, it just flows naturally with teasy back and forths, serious conversations where they help each other cope with what they went through, literal netflix and chill nights and so on. I honestly loved how domestic and cozy the non-sex scenes were, with lots of cooking, spooning, watching The Originals and other things that don’t involve leaving the house. I’m all for that. I laughed, I swooned and I was close to sheding tears towards the end.
That being said, I wanted MORE of this, of the banter, and simple things, I wouldn’t say they were overpowered by the sex but it was very close. I’m greedy like that, I loved them so much together that I wanted more.
Shep is a brooding, cranky mountain man but at the same time such a soft bear, he made my heart so mushy. When not in his dominant “persona”, he was a gentle, caring and a very attentionate person who was set on taking care of Claudia and genuinely loved doing that, he knew not to overstep, he knew when no meant no and didn’t press. He also tried his best to help Claudia grief and heal BUT he was fully aware that he wasn’t the answer to all her problems.
Claudia is literal goals. She’s an ambitous black woman who knows what she wants, how she wants it and stat. She has ambitions for her career that she didn’t throw away for a relationship. She’s such a strong woman that I lowkey look up to, she is honest, snarky and just the best, okay? I LOVED how confident she is about her sexuality, again, she knows what she likes, makes it known and is super comfortable in her body. I loved how the PTSD was delt with, it wasn’t brushed aside, you could clearly see that she was struggling and bonus point for her having to go to more than one therapist to find the right one for her.
I wanted to mention a few secondary characters as well, like May Bell and Jad, the old neighbors who basically adopted Shep and were like family to him, checking up on him and worrying about him. Liz, Claudia’s bestfriend is a true gem, I loved how positive their friendship was, she’s a keeper.
I was genuinely sad when I finished the book because I didn’t want it to end, I loved the characters and their story so much that I wanted more, I still do. My hopes and dreams are that the second book in the series will be about Liz and that we’ll get glimpses of Claudia and Shep through that. A girl can dream, right?
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Haven? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.