Title: Power Play: Awakening by Rachel Haimowitz & Cat Grant
Power Play Series Book Two
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: M/M, Erotic, BDSM, Contemporary, Romance
Length: 292 pages/Word count: 95,000
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher
Brandon McKinney is a man reborn. Newly awakened to the notion of consensual power exchange and the submissive urges inside him, he begs for a second chance from the man who opened his eyes to this world: Silicon Valley superstar Jonathan Watkins. But no birth is absent pain, and Brandon’s is no exception. He fears he’s not strong enough to see it through.
Jonathan knows better. He’s seen the iron core inside his new submissive, and the wounded heart inside him too. He means to teach Brandon to heal the one with the other. They have five months left on their contract, after all, and Jonathan has done more with less before.
It’s tough to stay objective, though, when you’re falling in love. Shame Brandon doesn’t feel the same. He’s only there for the three-million-dollar payout at contract’s end—a fact that Jonathan, nursing his own wounded heart, reminds himself of each day. For even as Brandon’s barriers break and his mind expands, even as he grows to love his place at Jonathan’s feet, he’ll never love life with a sadist—especially one who cannot escape the public eye.
This title is #2 of the Power Play series.
Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: heavy kink.
Power Play: Awakening by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant is an intense read but it is not as physically and emotionally exhausting as the first book in the series, Power Play: Resistance. It is, as the title implies, a journey of self-awareness for Jonathan and Brandon as individuals and as a couple.
The tone of Power Play: Awakening is different from the very beginning. There is more give and take as Jonathan finally takes the time to get to know Brandon. He is much more patient and understanding, and he is a bit more forgiving of Brandon’s errors. Having said that, he is still, at the core, the same selfish sadist we saw in Power Play: Resistance. He continues to delight in torturing Brandon, counting out demerits and wielding his whip in punishment of Brandon’s infractions.
Brandon is initially the same man we met in Power Play: Awakening. While to all appearances he is more accepting of Jonathan’s expectations, his inner dialogue reveals he is still not as entirely compliant as he seems. Brandon still questions how living according to Jonathan’s rules are going to help him.
Without doubt, Brandon is emotionally crippled. His abusive past makes it impossible for him to connect with others. He cannot quell the inner voice that speaks to him using his father’s derisive and mocking tone. He is the perfect candidate for exploitation. It is little wonder that he will eventually do anything for any type of affection or praise.
The BDSM aspect of Power Play: Awakening is not as vicious or dehumanizing as it was in Power Play: Resistance. There is one intensely sadistic scene that is squirm inducing (not in a good way for me). It becomes the pivotal turning point in Brandon and Jonathan’s relationship. While I like where Brandon eventually ended up in terms of personal growth and self-awareness, I am not sure the ends justified the means.
Which brings me to the crux of Power Play: Awakening. Do Jonathan and Brandon have a genuine D/s relationship? The only thing I know for certain is Jonathan is a sadist not a Dom. Is Brandon a submissive? Or was he a victim of a sadistic, brutal man who isolated him and preyed on his insecurities and made him desperate for an emotional connection? Did Jonathan break Brandon? The answer to that question lies in whether or not you believe Brandon is a true submissive and their relationship is that of a D/s nature.
Without doubt, Power Play: Awakening is a powerful and compelling novel. Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant provide a fascinating and in-depth look into the world of BDSM and sadism. An incredible journey, Power Play: Awakening is a non-traditional romance that beautifully demonstrates there is no right or wrong way to love.
Read my review of Power Play: Resistance HERE.