Monday, May 30, 2016

ARC Review: 24/7 by J.A. Rock

24/7 (The Subs Club, #4)
From the blurb:

We started the Subs Club to make the kink community safer for subs. Except now the others are so busy chasing their happy endings, it’s like they’ve forgotten what Bill did to Hal and the fact that he got away with it. They used to think I was betraying Hal’s memory by hooking up with the owners of the club where he died. Now they don’t seem to care about any of it anymore.

Maybe I am sometimes angry with GK and Kel for giving Bill a second chance, but they’ve been mentoring me for a year now, and whatever else they’ve done, they make me feel incredibly safe. So I want to try something: I want to offer them my complete submission, 24/7. To serve the people who forgave Bill. That’s the way I want to hurt.

Except I’m starting to care about them in a way I never meant to—and I think they feel the same way. But after Hal, I don’t know if I want to be in love again. Because what I really need, more than anything, is to see Bill brought to justice. Even if I have to do it myself. Even if it means losing GK and Kel.


Heather's rating:

24/7 is the fourth book in the Subs Club series, and it is by far my least favorite. This book was very different from the ones before it. It is extremely angsty and serious, without the humor from the previous books. While it fit Gould's character and where his story arc would take him, it was a difficult book for me to read and get through.

A few warnings before I start. This book is a M/F/M story, with the "F" in the middle as the operative word. If you are expecting a relationship where all three partners are equal in their feelings for one another, you would be wrong (more on that later). It also focuses a lot of the grief that Gould is still feeling from Hal's death, including thoughts of self-harm, obsessive thoughts and actions, and many unhealthy behaviors. There is also some pretty heavy humiliation kink, as well as a master-slave relationship.

I could probably talk about this book for a week and not get all my feelings about it on page. I'm a huge fan of J.A. Rock, and this book was another example of how well written and thoughtful her book are. She is a very smart writer, and I could tell that she really examined how she thought Gould's relationship would go with Greg and Kel. There are also tons of interesting themes in this story, including interracial relationships, religion, overweight MCs, and the definitions of sexuality. I admire J.A. Rock greatly for all of that.

I'll start with the discussion of the relationship between Gould and Kel and Greg. Gould is bisexual, a Kinsey five (as he describes himself). However, his primary interest in his relationship with Kel and Greg is with Kel. He wants to worship Kel and be with her, and Greg is more like a friend with benefits that just happens to be long for the ride. Similarly, Greg's interest is in pleasing Kel, and Gould is something like a deep friendship for him.

I found Greg's view of his sexuality to be endlessly interesting. Greg identifies as straight but hetero-flexible. Though he has sex with Gould and kisses him, he still views himself as straight because he isn't attracted to men, as a rule. There is a LARGE discussion on bisexuality and bi-erasure here, before you all jump in, so don't worry on that account. I just happened to find it interesting that Greg says that his self-identifying as straight is simply what he feels most comfortable with. On a personal level, I could really identify with Greg. I consider myself straight, but I could also see becoming intimate with a woman and enjoying it, especially in a charged, erotic BDSM setting. I got Greg's POV, on this topic, totally.

There were also some really interesting discussions on religion and race, as Greg is both Indian and Native American. I really liked when Greg and Gould started discussing all of these issues about BDSM that I've been curious about but never asked.

What I really struggled with in terms of Greg/Kel/Gould's relationship was the fact that all three characters weren't in love with each other, at least not in the romantic way. I have a difficult time with menage books because I find it so hard to believe that three people can make it work between them, even with the issues of inequality and jealousy. Here, it isn't even trying to be a typical menage relationship. It is a really different type of arrangement, one that I've never seen before in romance. Honestly, I didn't find Gould/Kel/Greg's relationship to be very... romantic. It was hard for me to see that these people were anything beyond fondness for one another. It was one of my biggest stumbling blocks with this story.

Although this series has been all M/M up until this point, I personally didn't mind the introduction of a woman. I'm also a M/F reader, so having lady parts be explicitly described didn't bother me in the slightest. Plus, I'll take a book with pegging any day of the week (another of my personal favorite kinks!!).

What I didn't mind, but other people might, is the kink aspect. Humiliation kink and degradation is honestly one of my favorite kinks in BDSM. A good, consensual, verbal humiliation scene is exactly the type of kink I seek out in erotica and romance. I just love it. There is almost nothing in humiliation that is too kinky for me, so I didn't think anything here was very extreme. However, I was worried about Gould because we have an insight to his mind and he is so thoroughly messed up about Hal's death that really none of those scenes should have happened.

My biggest issue with this story, however, was how dark it was. I've been LOVING the light, fun, kinky books in this series, and this book was like a slap in the face. It was really heavy stuff, and it was depressing to read about. I think if this book had an epic romance or an awesome plot line, I would have been okay with the deep level of pain that is in this book. However, while I thought that the kink was interesting, the romance just wasn't there for me. This book only had its skillful writing to pull it through, and I barely got above a like for this story.

If you are looking for a Subs Club book like the others, you will be disappointed. However, if you are willing to read a very interesting, thoughtful, angsty story with some edgy kink content and a M/F/M romance, then try this one.

*Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Buy this book:

Riptide, Amazon, Kobo

Catch ya later!

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