Sevastyan, oh Sevastyan. What a total jerk this man is. He is living in the middle ages and has no idea how to deal with women whatsoever. In fact, because he is so super badass, he treats everyone as though they are inferior to his greatness. No one more than our shrinking violet of a heroine, Natalie.
She pines away all day while her master is off at "meetings" (aka: mapping out her future without her input-in fact, unbeknownst to her, they are even engaged!) and when he finally comes home at night, he spends hours whipping Natalie into a sexual frenzy. I find this very unbelievable. Natalie loves being treated like a doormat so much that she can't resist putting out at night? If she was as ballsy as Cole wants us to believe, Sevastyan would be enduring a dry spell as big as the Sahara in this book. In fact, he would not have Natalie to come brooding home to because if she was a tough cookie like she was supposed to be, she would be on a plane to Greece looking forward to sipping glasses of Ouzo and scoping out hot Greek men with her hilarious BFF. But no, the thrill of nipple clips is more important than respect according to Natalie's actions (not her words, but her actions. She swears up and down that she wants to establish a true relationship...after the nipple clips come off, that is).
Mr. Big Stuff thinks a relationship consists of sex, more sex, and dirtier sex. We find out later in the book that BDSM sex is the only way he knows how to please women because he saw a prostitute enjoy it once and vowed to learn how to bring that brand of "joy" to the table in any future love affair. Now, keep in mind that Sevastyan is nowhere near as creepy as Christian Grey, but he is still a piece of work. That said, you can't really blame Sevastyan for the boorish kidnapping scene at the airport since Natalie is always sending mixed messages. "Respect me! Don't respect me! Use me, hard, every night, however you want." Of course Sevastyan thinks his caveman behavior is desirable to her. In the past she has always allowed Sevastyan and her father to dictate her comings and goings and plan every little detail of her life so why wouldn't he think he could continue to get away with doing it?
Sevastyan isn't one for small talk. If he speaks more than 2 words at a time, it is generally cause for alarm. Natalie on the other hand is a talker. She wants to know Mr. Whip Wielder's deepest and darkest secrets. Even after he opens up, his previous behavior colored the character for me irrevocably. His story was sad, but still doesn't change the fact that he is a jerk! Despite her efforts, there is NO relationship here besides a sexual and obsessive one. There's no romance. There is a cold, one-dimensional male character and a needling, supposedly tough but not really female character-both with overdeveloped sex drives.
Why is BDSM all the rage right now? I try to stay open minded about these books with submissives and dominants, but I frankly don't understand why it is sexy to so many. So many writers of this genre swear up and down that being submissive in the bedroom does not mean that a character is submissive outside the bedroom. I call BS on this. I have read several books in this genre and every single one of them tries to convince the reader that the submissive is strong and confident otherwise. I have never been convinced that they actually are. Actions speak louder than words and Natalie is nothing but a submissive through and through. She's got a big mouth and complains a lot, but she never does much to change her situation as a strong character would. How disappointing. Obviously I am reviewing the third book of the series and have read the other two, so I knew what I was getting myself into, but I was truly crossing my fingers from beginning to end that Cole would pull this off and succeed where others have failed. No such luck.
I love Cole and was hoping that the plot would carry these books beyond sex, but I found that wasn't the case. I should know better than expect an actual intelligent plot in an erotica novel. I hope Kresley devotes her time and energy going forward to her IAD and Arcana series. Kresley Cole is an absolutely amazing writer typically and she is the undisputed Queen of paranormal romance. I am really looking forward to her other books coming out this year.