Author: Delphine Dryden
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/18/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: BDSM, Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Lesbian Romance
Drusilla Stasevich wants to leave the past behind and start the next chapter of her life. Returning to her hometown to open her dream kink club, Escape, seems like the perfect solution. But it can be tricky making dreams come true—especially when the person you want to share them with isn’t around anymore.
Amie Templeton is no stranger to tough times. She’s learned to make it on her own, and doesn’t do relationships outside the kink world. When her ex Dru moves back to town, old feelings surface. But that’s fine, right, since Dru has just opened the hottest new kink club in town?
Dru and Amie want to get the distracting spark between them out of their systems. Instead, their intense play sessions fan that spark into a flame. As if Dru didn’t have enough on her plate, an anonymous saboteur threatens to push her new club out of business. It will take the help of everybody at Escape to set things right again, and a lot of trust for Dru and Amie to start working toward a new life together.
This book is part of the Escape Universe, and is set contemporaneously with Dryden’s previous book from the setting, The Unicorn. In Top to Bottom, two minor characters introduced in The Unicorn move to center stage. As a nod to connectedness, the main characters from The Unicorn also make cameos here, but in a solidly standalone-book way.
I just loved this book. I devoured it in two days and am ready for the next one. Dryden has a wonderful handle on the kink/BDSM world, and on FF pairings. She writes authentically about scenes that work, scenes that almost work but leave everyone unsatisfied, and functional scenes that people are just plodding through. The kink isn’t a gimmick, it’s not stuck in there awkwardly to try to add heat that’s missing in the relationship, it’s literally lifestyle for these characters. They handle it sometimes well, sometimes awkwardly, as humans do.
The love story is a basic rekindling-an-old-flame tale, both Amie and Dru have survived heavy character-building hardship since losing touch around the end of their college days. They both have baggage to work through, and they struggle to do it, but they do it. Dryden is long on self-awareness and perceptiveness in her characters, and short on angst. This makes the reading a ton of fun for me.
Amie has a major epiphany about her romantic and sexual life during the course of the book, and while her inner monologue about it is organized and articulate, her conversations about it with Dru are hysterically awkward. She talks how one would expect a person who’s had her kind of upbringing to talk about their needs, wants, feelings, and sexuality. I identified with that aspect of her character, and appreciated the authenticity of the dialogue.
One of the most beautiful things about the story is the tenderness with which Amie and Dru treat each other. They are both willing to extend grace, even when they don’t fully understand why. They both make mistakes, they both own their messes, they both try to do better. I could pull out a hundred other details I loved from the story, but spoilers.
So, if you like hot, kinky, lesbian sex featuring authentically-voiced, self-aware, pretty, imperfect characters who are nonetheless trying to be better humans, get thee to a bookmonger and read this one.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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