Initial reaction: I'm giving this particular installment 1-star, but I'm going to continue with the series because I want to know where it will go. Suffice to say, though, this part of the series was underwhelming and I didn't feel like I learned anything more about the characters from the first book. Plus, it's just turning into a scenario that even for the nature of the story, it's problematic.
I'm disappointed to say the least. The first installment in this series wasn't bad, mostly because it was set up for the scenario that was to play out in "The Dining Club." "Bound", the second work in Marina Anderson's respective series, begins where "Desire" left off. We meet a few new characters in more detail (Andrew and Amber, whom I can say I actually like a little more than the main characters themselves). But apart from that and some awkward sexy times (if you can even call it that), not much to the novella at all. Grace is a doormat of a character, everything about this scenario is questionable in terms of her consent in the whole shebang, and David is *still* a jerk, probably even moreso than in the first installment.
Here's where I get on my soapbox a bit about BDSM, and granted, such thematics are really not my cuppa, but at least I know what it entails and if it's a good story, then I will read it. I think many writers who start out writing this genre don't make it clear the consent is a big part of the bargain. If the hero or heroine is made to do actions that they don't want to do or know what they're in for - its NOT OKAY! Doesn't matter if they elicit a sexual response to what is being done to them or what they are asked to do, that does not give consent.
It bothered me that the whole time we watch Grace and David enter this club, Grace never wanted to be *at* this club, technically, in the first place. She's dragged there by David because of problems that *he* sees in their relationship, and things that *he* wants to do and do to her. He tries to explain to Grace that she "doesn't know what she wants" if she's never tried anything.
That assertion doesn't hold up IMO, because Grace would have to give consent to try new things. She never clearly gave this notion, she's constantly characterized as being scared and being made to do things against her will. Even the scenario with the twins (which was a terrible way to start off this installment) made me rage because not only does it follow the sexual stereotypes surrounding twins (and they were pretty brainless in personality, to be honest), but it also had Grace forced to do a sexual act with one of them. I was not cool with that. If I'm comparing the portrayal of twins in a sexual story, off the top of my head, I much MUCH preferred the portrayal of the male twins in Megan Hart's "The Space Between Us", where the main character experiences her first "triad" relationship as an elder teen with two boys who vie for her affections. You could at least distinguish them as people with their own motivations, their personalities, and the shaping of those characters had nice touches of realistic conflict and why even the MC felt torn in her relationship with them.
Here? The twins are just props. Much like the sexual acts here, really. Considering Grace has to go through "trials" and not deviate from the rules or else she can't step foot in the club again....I don't see the point. I don't see the point considering she never wanted to go to this club, and personally, as a reader, I'm not all that enticed by this club either, even for its well to do settings. There's no draw.
Grace's made to go inside this club because she doesn't want to lose David, and even when they're in a sexual act together, she notes that she doesn't even "recognize the man" she loved when things were being done to her. That was not cool with me and threw me out of the text, multiple times.
I liked Andrew's character (at least from what surface details I could pick up from him, but I still don't know much yet), and I'm intrigued by Amber and seeing what she may do in order to keep her hold on the situation in terms of a relationship power play. It's obvious she likes David and wants Grace out of the way, but it's hard to say where that will go.
Suffice to say, I was not pleased with this installment, but I do want to see where this overarching story goes. I hope the next part is better than this one, because on its own - it just didn't cut it for me. Too many things it asked me to believe, and I couldn't because of the characters and the scenario itself.
Overall score: 0.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Forever.