“I loved the honesty and the realism that’s used to show the characters’ reactions to pain, how it feeds their needs.”
~ Under the Covers

Nicolette Hugo has a spellbinding way with words that captured me in her debut, The ArrangementExhibition: Unchained Vice continues in the same world, with a few characters you might recognize from a party in The Arrangement.  Grace Cantrell is a therapist with a kink for exhibitionism, but a past misjudgment has left her questioning her needs and scared to dip her foot in the pool again.  When Jason Wright, a photographer with a sadistic side, sees her on display at a party, he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame.  Their interaction leaves Grace stunned and she knows she’s falling down the rabbit hole again.  Still, it might not have been enough to keep her from walking away had a tragedy at work not left her on a voluntary leave for three weeks.   Desperately seeking release from the pain, Grace approaches Jason and they enter into an informal arrangement with no rules and only a safe word to save her should she be pushed too far.

Exhibition is a more fully fleshed out story than its predecessor, in that we get to see this relationship evolve from first meeting.  Grace is damaged in ways that are revealed later in the book and this makes her both hesitant and hungry since she’s denied herself her true nature for so long.  I truly felt sympathy for her as a character trying to navigate the waters of uncertainty, surrounded by those who get her kink and others who see it only as self-destruction.  Jason’s sadism is well developed and he’s very experienced in dishing out pain.  He is well known in the circles he operates in, but I did want to get a deeper look at what made him tick, a hint of his past.  Whether wielding a whip or a needle, I could feel all of the air being sucked out of the room, sense the anticipation and fear that he elicited.  I’ve said it before, but Hugo’s prose really is very poetic and poignant, without being syrupy.  She is able to distill down what makes the submissive crave what they do, how they cope with a scene, how they feel in subspace in a way that I find unique.  Again, this is a much more character driven story than is the norm lately.  While there are a few parties and some group play, the scenes and the emotions that surround them are the stars here, which is just how I like it.  The Arrangement wasn’t mild play, by any means, but Exhibition pushes into territory that is on the more hardcore side of pain.  I loved the honesty and the realism that’s used to show the characters’ reactions to pain, how it feeds their needs.   I’ve hinted at some of the implements used and you can expect both pointy and hot things ;).  The first outing Jason and Grace have together was truly one of the most unique I’ve read in a kink themed book.  You have to be willing to test your boundaries just like Grace and if you’re open, it’s hot beyond belief.  This is erotic romance, so Grace and Jason get an absolutely beautiful HEA, one that I’m supremely jealous of.  If you can handle the more edgy side of play, this is a stellar second installment in this series.  I’m now a fully-fledged fan and eagerly await what comes next.




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[about-author author=”Nicolette Hugo”]


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