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Released: February 3, 2015
Genre: Erotic Romance
“The Surrender Gate is the second offering in the Desire Exchange series and not only does it not disappoint, it pretty much floored me.” ~ Under the Covers
I’m going to be blunt about this one and say that you MUST READ THIS BOOK. I was first introduced to Christopher Rice through his 1,001 Dark Nights novella, The Flame. The Surrender Gate is the second offering in the Desire Exchange series and not only does it not disappoint, it pretty much floored me. I learned from The Flame that Rice has a truly captivating, sensual, evocative style. The imagery he creates through his lush descriptions makes you feel like you’re intimately present in each scene. Think 2D versus 3D, which is perfect for a series that utilizes the complex and rich locale of New Orleans, infused with more than a hint of the supernatural.
Emily Blaine’s surrogate father, Arthur Benoit, is dying of cancer. He’s also the owner of a vast fortune that that she stands to inherit when he dies. He charges Emily with fulfilling his dying wish: to find his long estranged son, Ryan, and deliver a letter, the contents of which are not disclosed. Emily’s life has undergone more than a little upheaval in the last few weeks, learning that her gay best friend, Jonathan Claiborne, has likely been working as a high priced escort to the elite. When she stalks him to discover if the truth might help her in the task she’s been charged with, it sets off a chain of events that she never would have predicted. They must infiltrate The Desire Exchange, a secret organization purported to fulfill the sexual fantasies of the rich, with the hopes of finding Ryan. This is a dangerous proposition, with players that have a lot to lose. Marcus Dylan is an ex-Navy SEAL hired by Arthur to keep Emily safe as she and Jonathan work to complete the mission. He’s brawn with brains and heart. Emily can’t help but be captivated by his every move. In seeking Ryan, many questions remain unanswered. What exactly is the Desire Exchange? Who runs it? Can Emily’s and Jonathan’s friendship survive the tests they’ll face? Can Marcus prove to Emily he’s what she really needs and craves?
I love that I found it hard to categorize The Surrender Gate. It’s paranormal without being paranormal romance. It’s suspenseful, but not romantic suspense. It’s erotic, with a satisfying and emotional romance, but doesn’t follow many romance conventions. Three characters control the action, but it’s not a ménage. The plot is driven, fast-paced, unpredictable, and leaves unanswered questions that beg to be fleshed out in upcoming sequels. The sex runs the gamut from forbidden to somewhat kinky to conventional. I couldn’t take my eyes off the page during these scenes. I was completely drawn in, captive to each word and action. There’s an honesty to the sex that is refreshing, and a lack of apology for the enjoyment of unattached physical pleasure. These characters lack the angsty hang-ups that have been driving me crazy lately. The dialog is natural and sometimes hilariously funny. I truly liked all the main players. Marcus knows how to turn on a girl with a brain. He’s as seductive with his words as he is with his body. He worships Emily without being submissive and is deliciously dominant without being a Dominant. Emily is a strong, determined woman who has natural fears without being paralyzed by them. I couldn’t get enough and was genuinely sad when it was over. The contrasts, blurred genres, and beautiful prose make it a unique story that I can recommend to anyone who reads romance and could be a bridge to those new to romance in general.
*ARC provided by publisher
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