Julia Quinn is an overworked PR professional who’s sent by her boss on an all-expenses-paid vacation to a private island. Little does she know it’s so private that her only companion will be Alexandra Ortega, a friend of her boss and a professional dominatrix who’s surprised to find her there thanks to a misunderstanding around travel dates.
Alexandra keeps her island as her private sanctuary and confidential work area. The mix up about when Julia was to arrive leaves Alexandra irritated and out of sorts. Not a great start, but they both are determined to start over.
Julia just wants a vacation and that’s what Alexandra is determined to give her. Except little by little, attraction flares. Can Julia finally explore her buried interest in kink? And can she really put her heart out there for a woman with a career like Alexandra’s? Can Alexandra overcome her own past and let Julie in?
Tara: I really liked Julia and Alexandra. They both have interesting character arcs as they move through the book and their chemistry and banter is suuuuper fun and hot. And am I right in thinking that they’re both ice queens? Because it’s pretty cool (heh) to see two ice queens thaw each other.
Amy: Definitely two ice queens. Alexandra’s experiences with a client who overstepped the boundaries made her close herself off to anyone trying to get intimate. And Julia’s childhood taught her that she can’t rely on anybody. Both of their character arcs are not only about opening themselves up to kink and sexual play with each other, it’s about healing from the past and allowing themselves to be vulnerable to the one person that could hurt them.
Tara: I also really liked Caroline, Julia’s boss and Alexandra’s best friend. I especially liked how the author wrote her friendship with each of the leads, because I so enjoy reading friendship written well.
Amy: I liked Caroline too, although she isn’t really a big part of the narrative. But, (hint, hint, author) she would definitely make an excellent main character in her own story. And let’s face it, she deserves a little bit of comeuppance for the admittedly successful game she played with her friends.
The Writing Style
Tara: I’ve seen some people say they think the book is too long, but I actually didn’t feel that way. It’s longer than most of the erotic romances I’ve read before, and I like that it gives space for them to get to know each other, build a friendship and some trust before taking them to a more kinky and emotional place.
Amy: One of the biggest foundations in BDSM is trust. Both these women have had experiences in the past that make it difficult for them to let others see their inner soul, so yes, this story needed to be long enough for each of them to learn how to trust the other.
Tara: I also liked that the BDSM was largely psychological, more on the side of Dominance and submission, rather than physical play (although there is some of that). It worked well in conjunction with their relationship development and the way they grew both as individuals and a couple, giving them another way to develop the trust they each needed.
Amy: I agree totally. I think it had to be more psychological for Julia to benefit from it. If it had been more centered around physical play, and pleasure/pain sensation, I think Julia would have kept things on the shallow side. She wouldn’t have let Alexandra so far in, and wouldn’t have faced her own deep hurts and issues. And the fact that the BDSM focused more on Dominance and submission meant that the play actually started earlier than readers may think. Several things were extremely well done here: the fact that Alexandra centered her play around consent, constantly checking in, the way Alexandra communicated with Julia and required clear communication in return, and even the fact that Alexandra saved the pain/sensation play for pleasurable times, and not for punishment. All of that seemed to be done with a deft and subtle hand that made sure the narrative fit the tenets of good play.
Tara: There were a bunch of things I liked about this book. The sex writing was super hot, the premise is fun, and I especially liked the dialogue whenever Alexandra and Julia were talking with each other.
Amy: There are not enough good BDSM books out there, and this one definitely fit the bill for me. And I now need a vacation on this island!
Tara: I need a book about Caroline stat and it doesn’t exist!
Amy: My one big con was how immature Julia acted at times. Even though it fit her character and her backstory, her constant desire for flight and her need to lash out when she became vulnerable made her a little harder for me to like. But I think Schippers did a great job at allowing Julia to grow organically, and making sure we readers saw her journey to overcome this flaw that threatened her happiness. And I also agree about Caroline. Get to writing, Schippers!
Tara: I really enjoyed this one! If you like erotic romance with a bit of kink, I recommend Shadow Haven.
Amy: I also recommend this book! This is a slow but good introduction to BDSM, and how to include it not only as a spicy way to titillate, but also as a vehicle for character development.
Excerpt from Shadow Haven by AJ Schippers
“Alexandra, wake up.”
“You must be feeling better.” Alexandra put the pillow over her head, desperately needing more sleep.
“I’m not nauseous anymore , and I really want some food.”
“Then go make some.”
“I can’t cook.”
Alexandra groaned again. “Are you always this chipper in the morning after having your head smashed in?”
Julia laughed. “Maybe I’m delirious, but I’m still hungry, so please get up and make me some food.”
“Surely you can manage to make a sandwich.”
Julia shook her head. “Concussion, remember? I shouldn’t be allowed near utensils.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’re milking your concussion?”
“Most likely because I am.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 978-3955338459
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
AJ Schippers Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Shadow Haven by AJ Schippers. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.