"Binding Agreement" is the last of Kyra Davis's trilogy of novellas, which composes the novel "Just One Night." I'm choosing to review each of the parts individually rather than the collective novel because each has its own separate arc, and I want to give attention to them as they were originally written before their compilation.
The title to this particular part of the series is appropriate considering this is not so much a romance as it is a contract, a lust, a pursuit of power. And honestly, I was impressed that the story managed to tie up details as well as it did in this part because it easily could've fell apart for what it pushed toward.
Here's my take on this story and I know I might be the only person who feels this way about this series. I thought this was an excellent rounding out to the series progressively. Kasie starts off as a woman who strays into the arms of a stranger in Part I. She's an independent woman who knows what she wants (or thinks she knows what she wants), but doesn't give herself a chance to explore until that night she ends up meeting Robert Dade. She realizes that the life she'd thought she'd made for herself in its appeared perfections is not what she expected. The whirlwind affair ends up coming to a head when Dave finds out. Part II is the struggle in which Kasie has to leave that relationship and enter another with Robert. But as the pursuit goes, she ends up leaving one controlling relationship, straight into the arms of another.
The third part in this series is ultimately about a corruption of security, power, and domination, and Kasie has to come to terms with what those struggles mean, and ultimately step out of power plays to find what she wants. This text, I will say, is indulgent, it is self-serving, it is heavily flawed, but damned if it doesn't do an excellent job of showcasing where the flaws are and ultimately showing that security within power displays is not all that it's cracked up to be.
In this part, Kasie believes that she's on the top of the world. Robert's firmly hers, she's taken a top position in her company (though at the expense of anothers - Tom, while helping her to break her relationship with Dave, gets ousted from the company and Kasie takes his vacant position). But the power isn't so much in Kasie's hands as it is in Robert's. Robert's pronounced dominance in both Kasie's professional and sexual life comes to a full circle in this book. It's like watching a sexual and corporate power struggle akin to the story of Death Note. Only there isn't anything working against Kasie, except her own conscience.
Kasie is pretty self-aware of the backlash, but it's only when she starts feeling guilt about it and questioning Robert's motivations that she starts realizing the problems surrounding her - what with her position and how she's coming to take possession of such power. In the end, this affects her relationship with her parents, friends, co-workers, pretty much everyone. She has to put her foot down and say "Enough is enough, I do not want this, not like this." And the first thing she has to do is to say "no" to Robert.
That...takes a lot longer than what the length of the narrative provides, and I almost wish she'd given the verbal kick to Robert's bum sooner. If I can admit one fault to "Binding Agreement" - it spends too much time on the speculation of these details and I wanted to say, even for its short length: "Get to it." I understood what it was trying to do and where it wanted to go, but it could've been a little better in the transition getting there. Still, I have to applaud Davis for having an eye to the matter and for keeping my attention and rounding out the story with all the build up it's had thus far.
In the end, there's a bit of a reconnect that leaves the ending open for more development with Robert and Kasie, but not in a way where I thought it was unsatisfying, because they're both having to pick up pieces of all the events that have transpired. Heck, even after everything Dave did in the last installment, he's back here briefly for a closure upon his story and his role in the measure of things.
It's worth saying that every single bit of the characters in this overarching tale is flawed, self-serving, and caught up in the power plays of sex, position, and entitlement, but the way that it was handled and given an eye in respects had me intrigued from point one to the end, even when I didn't like the characters or their assertions in spurts. I haven't read any of Kyra Davis's other works, but this does make me want to see more of what the author has to offer in future pursuits.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars