I purchased a copy after hearing some of my friends rave about it. I didn't read a lot of the reviews, but nothing really stood out that warned me away from this either, except for the typical "if you loved 50SoG/Bared to You you will love this" phrase. Now that I have read it, I can see what all the fuss was about. Some reviewers claim this book has BDSM undertones or they just throw the word BDSM around whenever the hero is a dominating figure. In this book, Ethan Blackstone doesn't have "a Red Room of Pain", no dungeon, he doesn't frequent "clubs", he's never had a submissive, and he doesn't live the lifestyle. He's just very knowledgeable about how to draw certain responses from the women he's with. He likes his sex rough when he's worked up, but he's also capable of being very sweet, tender and in control. So don't worry that kinky sex, cuffs, blindfolds, Yes Sirs, ropes or anal plugs will make an appearance in any of the three books. They don't.
Ethan was flawed, but not to the point that he had difficulty functioning within a relationship. He was a former war hero turned security specialist to the rich and famous as well as foreign dignitaries and the Royal family. There were no throngs of past conquests *cough* exes parading through the book to heighten the angst and drama, and he never hurt Brynne physically. Brynne was not the lip-biting, childish heroine either. She had a job she took seriously as well as her studies, and she wasn't a naive dimwit. In short, I loved that the hero wasn't your typical rich, spoilt socialite, but he was someone who made it his job to keep others safe, and he had a family he got along with and adored. Together this couple had chemistry in spades, and if you love a lot of hot, sweaty sex, you will definitely get that in this book (and the rest of the trilogy too).
Another thing I enjoyed about this story was the suspense that was sort of the catalyst for it all. I was intrigued, and that was one of the other reasons I kept on reading. Told in Brynne's first person POV, you get a good feeling for her character very quickly. It took some getting used to, but it lent the story a haunting and vulnerable quality. The story moves pretty quickly, from their first meeting to their first (of many) sexual encounters before we find ourselves at the end. It was sexy as hell, but it also felt very rushed. As if the intention of all that sex and sweet words was to force us into feeling enough for the characters just in time for the shoe to drop. I hate to disappoint, but I was neither surprised nor did I feel inclined to side with Brynne.
Overall, I enjoyed this first installment. And since it is a series, there's no room to really judge the plot or the character arc/development. This will definitely be an ongoing process for the both of them, so I look forward to seeing how they will develop. Would I recommend this? Yes.
My final rating: 3.5 rounded up to 4