I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Conditioned by Liz Crowe
Series: Brewing Passion #3
Published by Totally Bound on July 11, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: the Author
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A chance meeting. An improbable connection. An exquisite attraction.
Trent Hettinger’s turbulent formative years transformed him into a cynic—and into a man who realized he required something outside himself to control his temper. Something he found as a Dom—at least for a while. But he allowed himself to trust a woman once and was slapped back into reality with a vengeance and now devotes all his energy into building his real estate empire, raising his teenaged daughter…and avoiding anything resembling authentic attachments.
Melody Rodriguez kept her head down for years—working hard, making her own money, trying to get ahead with every deck stacked against her. She’s determined to move beyond the ugliness that haunts her without anyone’s help. When a mutual friend sets her up with Trent, she’s determined to have some fun with him and move on.
A man with nothing left to lose. A woman hiding behind her past. When two lives spent in emotional denial collide, it’s a perfect match—at least on the surface. But neither Trent or Melody are prepared for the full force of their true feelings, once fate intervenes and blows a cold breeze into their white-hot relationship.
Reader Advisory: This book contains a recollection of gang rape; mention of incestual rape, spousal rape and abuse.
We met both Melody Rodriguez and Trent Hettinger in the first two books of this series. But, we only knew the basics. She’s Evelyn’s best friend, he dated Evelyn briefly. He’s into BDSM and is a Dom. She’s really good at her jobs and is in a committed relationship with him. Now, their story takes major steps backwards in time to share how they came to be.
One of the unexpected bonuses coming out of this story was getting third party perspectives about the Evelyn/Austin/Ross relationship from the very beginning. I wondered during the first two books how much employees and others knew about them, what they thought and that gets answered. And, more details about Evelyn’s dalliance with Trent are offered up, too.
Now, about Trent and Melody. On the surface, these two couldn’t appear more confident and self assured. But both of them have experienced some really horrible traumas and found ways to gain control of their lives. Melody’s not what you’d think of as a stereotypical submissive but the true dynamics of a Dom/sub relationship are the focus. It made for a much more layered story. Their pairing is stormy, messy and passionate and both behave maturely and stupidly over the course of the story. There aren’t any dull moments but don’t expect a lot of emphasis on Dom/sub sexual behavior…there is that but it’s not the heart of this book.
This was another rollercoaster ride from start to finish. I really liked Trent and Melody together, which wasn’t how I felt at the start. Now, they make perfect sense.
“You need to get ready,” Evelyn said. “You only have a few hours.”
I stared at the computer screen. “I’m not going.”
“The hell you aren’t.” She slapped the laptop closed. We were in the office she’d assigned to me in my new job as general manager of the Fitz Pub. “You are going. But not until you get your ass home for a clean-up.” She raised an eyebrow. “Did you ever get to my wax artist?”
I put a hand to my face.
“All right. Well. Get on home and take a shower. Do you have a nice dress? I mean, something super dressy?”
“Yes. He sent a dress. And shoes. And…a kind of a…mask.”
“All righty then. He hasn’t lost his edge. So, let’s go.” She snapped her fingers and smiled at me.
“Go where?” Panic was settling into my psyche. I’d spent a lot of energy in the last couple of days being mad at Trent. I wasn’t quite ready to let go of it.
“It’s wax time, puta.” She handed me my purse.
“We have work to do.”
“It can wait.”
“That’s not what you said to me this morning.” I crossed my arms, leaning back in my rickety chair.
“Yeah, well, scratch all that. Hang on.” She pulled her phone from her pocket. “Hey. Yeah. I gotta go help Melody with something. I’ll be back in about an hour.” Her face reddened. “Yes, I know.” She turned away from me and muttered something more, then ended the call. “Whew. All right. Come on. It won’t take long.”
Two hours later I was home, staring at myself in the mirror. I put a hand to my neck, turning my head left, then right, admiring the semi-casual updo and the subtle makeup. I held out my hands, checking out the bright red nails. Between the primping, buffing, waxing and everything else, they’d even found time to get me a shower at that crazy spa.
I glanced over at the bed, where the simple, cream silk dress lay alongside a cream-colored garter belt, real silk stockings and a gorgeous, matching bra. The shoes were a work of art—sky-high heels, open toes, satin ribbons to wrap around my ankles. Everything was the perfect size. Of course.
I sat, fingering the creamy mask. It was intimidating, yet beautiful, edged with intricate lace. My fingers trembled as I held it to my face, then dropped it onto my lap.
You wanted this, Melody. You demanded it from him. Do not be that woman who, when her man gives her what she wanted, suddenly changes her mind.
I willed myself not to cry and screw up the expensive makeup job. As I was fastening the stockings into the belt, my phone buzzed from the table next to my bed. I smiled when I saw I was Evelyn.
Mel. Just relax. It will be fine. He loves you.
I sighed and looked at the ceiling before answering. I’m not sure about all that. He wants to tie me up and spank me. That’s not love. That’s kind of crazy.
Don’t worry. If you don’t like it, tell him. He’ll stop. He’ll do anything for you. Lighten up a little.
There was a brief pause, then another text from my friend. You’re going to blow his mind, chica. Own it.
I covered my lips with my hands. There was no denying it—I was flat out terrified. I wanted this. Or I thought I wanted it. And now I definitely had to own it.
Noting the time, I stood slowly and pulled the dress with me. The fabric was like a lovely soft sheet draping my body, magically clinging to all my curves. I ran my hands across my stomach, down my hips, admiring myself in the full-length mirror.
With a frown, I started pulling at the pins and whatnot that the hair guy had used to give me the glamorous up-do. My man wanted my hair down. I ran my fingers through it, which reminded me of the way he loved to do it—gently at first, then when he’d close his fingers in it, tugging and pulling…
I shivered, and I smiled at myself, noting how my makeup looked better since I wasn’t ghostly pale behind it anymore.
We’d parted badly. And I’d taken his Jeep. Granted, I’d left it in his garage, keys in the gas door. But I had taken the man’s car. It had been a bold move. Or a shitty move. I still hadn’t decided. But now, if Evelyn was to be believed, this night would be The One. The night I would get the full force of this whole BDSM Thing. Take it or leave it.