Toni's Review of Rough Play by Christina Crooks ***4.5 Stars***

In Christina Crooks's suspenseful new novel, a woman's search for a missing friend leads her to an erotic playground of fetish and fantasy. . .

After escaping her sexually dominant husband, dating coach Charlotte is ready to play it safe. But when her client, Gail, disappears after visiting a fetish-oriented club called Subspace, Charlotte must enter the erotic underworld to find out what happened to her.

Club owner Master Martin is willing to help Charlotte—as long as she agrees to a little role-playing. As Charlotte slowly surrenders to Martin's sensual enticements, she finds that her penchant for submission is more intense than ever. But at the same time, as her search for Gail leads her deep inside Subspace's catacombs, Charlotte fears it may already be too late to save Gail. . .or herself.


Welcome to the dark side of BDSM!

For awhile now I’ve enjoyed erotic romance novels set in the BDSM lifestyle. Rough Play just blew my comfort zone out of the water, but in a good way! Get ready to learn what the SM in BDSM really stands for!

Charlotte has dark passions, but is too afraid to let them out. Her ex husband destroyed her yearning to be dominated. With her past behind her, she is starting a new life as a dating coach. Problem is she has a challenging client who wants to dip her uneducated toes into the BDSM scene. One missed safety call later, Charlotte is forced back into a world she secretly craves.

Martin is an unconventional man; a loving son, business owner, inventor and sadist. Not to mention he is also being blackmailed. Unable to find a way out of his predicament, he is dismayed that a as a Master Dominate, he is being forced to submit. At least he can still be in control when dealing with Charlotte and her needs, or so he thinks.

First off, there is no mystery here. You know who the villain is right off, but it really is okay. You get to sit back and cringe how he is manipulating the situation, making his eventual downfall all the sweeter. There were so many new terms, toys and experiences in Rough Play that I had to do internet searches to understand what I was reading. If I would have just been patient with Ms. Crooks, she explained it all. She did a fabulous job educating the reader without feeling like you are in a classroom. Bravo My Dear!

Rough Play is not your normal BDSM romance novel. I would label it hardcore for the romance genre. Most BDSM in the erotic romance genre has mild to strong D/s relationships, mild spanking to the point of pink/red bottoms, light bondage and possibly a flogger or two. That is so not the case in this book.

This book should have come with a warning label: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!! Definitely leave these lifestyle practices to the professionals. The BDSM scenes were extreme in context; punishing spankings, nipple clamps with teeth (yes teeth), consensual non-consenting sex (simulated rape), whippings, needle play, strong sadistic / masochistic undertones, and a whole new lifestyle term I have never heard of before - Gorean.

Don’t let the fear of the violent sex play scare you away from this book though. If you are remotely interested in the BDSM scene and enjoy reading about it, take a walk on this side of the street. Ms. Crooks does a spectacular job with the romance and the realism in regards to the passionate pull of the characters. They both fulfilled each other’s needs and desires skillfully. While mainstream romance readers may not be familiar with this take of literary BDSM, it doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

Rough Play is a extremely gratifying. The subject matter is darkly compelling and sensually invigorating. This is a very mature adult read. The plot is dangerous and gripping, while the love story is dominating. This book really had me sitting back and thinking. It is NOT a light read.

So come on over to the dark side, we are waiting for you. You won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for reading - Toni


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