I vow. I crave. I give in.
I used to be a nice, normal girl. I had dreams. Good, happy dreams of a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a fairytale love that lasts forever. Nobody ever warned me that sometimes, the prince dies three weeks before the wedding.
Like any addict, I swear this time is the last….
Now, I go through my days, a shadow of my former self. I pretend I’m okay, and the people in my life pretend to believe me. But, sometimes, when I can no longer stand the craving, I roam an underground sex club looking for my next hit. It’s dirty and wrong, but I can’t stop, and my only line of defense between them and me, are the rules I’ve designed to keep me safe. Men always abide by my rules. Until I meet him.
And, like any addict, I’m wrong.
I don’t question the instincts that tell me to run. One look at him, standing there, power radiating off him in waves, tells me all I need to know. He will make me crave those happy dreams I’ve left behind. And that is not an option.
Layla is mourning her murdered fiancé, is suffering from an anxiety disorder, and is struggling to move on. She spends her nights hooking up with men in a sex club to find some kind of release, but her life is empty until she meets Michael. Michael knows what Layla needs and wants, and yet she can't quite bring herself to give herself over to his control when that feels like betraying her fiancé.
Woah. Ok. Where to start with this one! First of all, I don't usually read dead-ex storylines because I find mourning and romance to be a really hard mix for me to get my head around, but there is no way I'm ever passing on a Jennifer Dawson book, so... I read it. And it was, as I could predict from her, great!
Layla's mourning of her husband is a very strong theme through the story. It's only been 18 months since his death, so it still feels very fresh. Due to the violent nature of his murder, and the fact that she was there, we also get a strong PTSD vibe, with upsetting flashbacks. Layla's family seems to think 18 months is the equivalent to a decade, and is really on her about moving on - I found this kind of shocking (!!) but I can just imagine that's what so many families would be like in real life. So, as you might imagine, this is very much a story of Layla's healing.
Layla's mental state (which is laid bare in the 1st person pov) makes this a difficult read, and it's certainly not one I would read for an easy escape (for that I'd recommend Jennifer Dawson's Something New series!), but its brutality is so compelling, and so entwined with a deliciously seductive romance, that this novel is just about impossible to put down.
There's an addiction metaphor throughout the story, which I thought might have been a tad over done, but apart from that I only had one real complaint, which was that I wished Michael had had some more growth and development. He's just such a perfect hero. Sexy, commanding, completely devoted to his heroine. Though there are aspects about him that weren't totally my thing - namely his domination outside the bedroom, though this is exactly what Layla wants and needs, and will certainly appeal to a lot of readers - but all in all, he's so perfectly what Layla requires, without any need to change, that I felt like all the growth and compromise in their relationship came from Layla. This wasn't the worst thing in the world (because who doesn't love a perfect man?), but I probably would have loved him a little more if he'd had a few flaws.
However, our perfect Michael and damaged Layla have the most scintillating chemistry. I'm a little surprised my iPad didn't spontaneously combust while I read Crave. Jennifer Dawson has an ability for writing chemistry that is breathtaking. It's what makes her novels so compelling and has me desperate to read anything she writes, whether it is contemporary romance or this darker erotic. There's a lot of sexy times in this novel, including two spanking scenes, but the kink in this novel is more present in Michael and Layla's general interactions, rather than specifically in the bedroom. However, the chemistry between them goes beyond all that, as Dawson creates a burning heat that permeates every page of Crave.
Crave might be very different to the previous novels I've read from Jennifer Dawson, but it's just as addictive. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series!
Crave by Jennifer Dawson is an erotic romance, released on June 1 2015.
Find this book at: Amazon | Author Website | Goodreads
More from Jennifer Dawson on Love Reading Romance:
Take a Chance on Me by Jennifer Dawson - Book Review
The Winner Takes It All by Jennifer Dawson - Book Review
The Winner Takes It All by Jennifer Dawson - Book Excerpt
I Write Romance by Jennifer Dawson - Guest Post