LK Shaw is a new author to me, so this is her first appearance on the blog. I’m a member of the Purple Prose Society on FB, where authors and ARC readers can hook up so that everyone is happy. That’s where I hooked up with LK and this book.
Secrets of Betrayal is a new book in LK Shaw’s Secrets series. Full disclosure, I have not read the rest of the series, but they are currently in my Kindle’s TBR collection so I will be reading them soon. Keep an eye on my GR feed for when I review them.
Anyway, Secrets is the story of Phebe and Donovan.
We open to Phebe trapped in a dark, windowless cell. She keeps imagining sunshine to help get herself survive in that room. She’s huddling in a corner and when the door opens, she’s convinced that she’s about to die, and she’s kinda perfectly OK with that. Death would be freedom, at least. It turns out that she’s being rescued.
Phebe has had a hard life. She’s spent all her adult life in a relationship with Kieran Underwood. He started out as a DJ, but soon became a little drug dealer and then worked himself up to a higher-level drug dealer. It turns out that he was working for Phebe’s dad, not that she ever knew her dad.
When she is rescued, she is asked whether or not she will provide evidence and testify against Kieran, she says that she will, especially since one of the things that they want to prosecute him on is working with Russian sex traffickers. She knows all too well that Underwood was working with the Russians since he sold her to them. She agrees to do so and she wants to see his ass locked up for pretty much always. So, she’s put into a heavily guarded safe house.
Donovan is a complicated man. On one hand, he’s a successful prosecutor, who also does pro bono work to help out various women’s shelters. He’s also a Dom and part owner of a club called Eden. However, he has been trying to keep his Dom side a little more under wraps since his sub betrayed him and left him. He’s been appointed to be the lawyer on the Underwood case, which means that he will be spending a lot of time with Phebe, deposing her and getting her information. When he first sees Phebe, he gets some Dom-ly urges to take care of her and protect her, but he has to keep reminding himself that she’s not his sub.
They end up spending a lot of time together, working on the case, and things progress as they normally do.
OK, final thoughts before we move to the spoiler section. I did not connect deeply with these characters. I thought the book was very well-written and it’s a good premise. It did do some things that I really liked. For example, it shows Phebe going to a mental health professional to help in her recovery. Nothing happens overnight, and there is a lot of patience on everyone’s part. It also shows how a healthy D/s relationship can help women who have been in a very bad situation get back to trusting people and help them gain their power back. Will that work for everyone? No, of course not, not everyone has submissive tendencies, and you kinda gotta have those to be in a D/s relationship.
There are some things that may be triggery to people who have been in a relationship with violence in it, so be aware of that if you read this book. There aren’t a lot of them, but it’s better to know that they are there than to be blindsided.
Ok, I think that one of the reasons I didn’t really connect well with the characters is that sometimes I felt like Donovan’s betrayal and Phebe’s betrayal were being placed at the same level, or even that his was a little higher than hers. Yes, he had a sub, they were in a committed D/s relationship until she went off and cheated on him. That’s pretty bad and would be hurtful, but it doesn’t compare to being in a relationship with a drug dealer who hits you or being sold to a sex trafficker. That is my personal perception of it, colored through my viewpoints and experiences. Your perception will vary, so please don’t let me turn you off the book, OK?
I like that Phebe does research into the whole kink world on her own, by talking to her therapist and Bridget, before she talks to Donovan about it. That lets her figure out what she wants before she talks to Donovan. She needed that time to get things straight in her own head, which was important.
Donovan did do everything he could to make sure she was safe, and when something did happen that could hurt her, he made sure to rescue her and take care of her.
It was a well-written book, I could tell that LK Shaw put a lot of thought into it, and I enjoyed the premise behind it.
We have more goodies coming up this week, meanwhile, happy reading.