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The Romance Evangelist

The BookLikes companion to The Romance Evangelist (mharvey816.mh2.org).


Reviewer for Seductive Musings, Night Owl Reviews, and Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance.


I live for the HEA/HFN and am decidedly pro-epilogue.

Release Me - J. Kenner This book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at SeductiveMusings.blogspot.com.

“Damien Stark is the holy grail.”

Thanks to the runaway success of the Fifty Shades books, 2012 has been the year of BDSM Billionaire trilogies. It seems like there’s a new one every other week, with each heralded as the heir to the Fifty Shades crown. In my reading experience, only a very few have lived up to that particular hype. I am happy to report that J. Kenner's Release Me more than holds its own among that select group of books.

“When I make the effort - like when I’m Social Nikki - I can’t help but look like I come from money. Probably because I do. Come from it, that is. But that doesn't mean I brought it with me.”

We experience Release Me through the eyes of Nikki Fairchild, recent LA transplant from Texas. She’s trying to reinvent herself far from the influence of her mother and the sad history which transformed her from an unhappy beauty pageant girl to a determined woman with two engineering degrees and a desire to build a company and career of her own. But there’s no direct route to success when you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, and if she has to use her beauty to gain access to the elite circles of influence, then so be it, especially if it means she can meet Damien Stark again.

“I think we’re kindred spirits, Miss Fairchild.”

Damien Stark has already reinvented himself from a hot young tennis sensation to a wildly successful billionaire businessman. He was also the source of the scholarship that helped Nikki pay for college after the end of the pageant career she’d never wanted in the first place. Damien and Nikki met briefly once back when still playing tennis and Nikki was still “chasing tiaras.” She has never forgotten their encounter. But has he? When they meet again at a private art gala, the connection is immediate and undeniable. In the days that follow, Nikki worries that her secrets will doom any serious relationship they could have, but it’s Damien’s secrets that could harm them both beyond repair.

With Release Me, J. Kenner successfully masters the BDSM Billionaire romance trope and makes it her own. The connected histories of Damien and Nikki have shaped their characters in ways that helped them stay alive but not truly live until they meet for the second time, ready to try trust and love again. I loved how they were more alike in what they had survived growing up and how they finally realized that they belonged to each other. The wide array of secondary characters provide the necessary background context and keep the romance from becoming too isolated from the couple’s daily lives. The telegraphing of the impending danger expected in the next book is a bit obvious at the end, but easily forgiven when the rest of the book is this good. I loved meeting Damien and Nikki in Release Me and I’m eagerly anticipating the release of Claim Me, the second book in the series.


Overall: 4.5
Sensuality level: 4 (light domination including toys, anal sex)