Ivan’s Captive Submissive by Ann Mayburn
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: I have met Ann Mayburn in real life and she is just as nice a person as you could hope to know. I’ve read most of her backlist and consider myself a big fan.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
“Ivan’s Captive Submissive” is the first in the new “Submissive’s Wish” series by Ann Mayburn and if this story is any indication, readers who love BDSM romance are in for a real treat. Submissive auctions aren’t a new idea, but the details of how the Submissive’s Wish Charity Auction works puts a new twist on the tried and true setup by adding a philanthropic facet to the outcome. Each submissive is still “sold” for outrageous sums to thoroughly vetted Masters and Mistresses, but the bulk of the money goes to the submissive’s charity of choice, with a fractional remainder paid out to the submissive once the week of service has been completed.
Gia Lopez has worked hard for the small measure of success she’s earned in spite of her humble beginnings and family heartbreak. Being able to raise a huge amount of money for herself and her local pet shelter while getting a week with a real live Master seems like the opportunity of a lifetime for her. She has been carefully trained as a submissive by a skilled married couple but this would be her first real world experience serving her own Master. But would anyone actually bid on a newly trained submissive with a wicked temper and a desire for forced seduction?
Ivan is the mysterious and handsome Dom who wins Gia’s service for a week with an extraordinarily large bid. As we eventually learn, Ivan can easily afford that and anything else Gia might desire, including an elaborate staging of what Gia believes is a real kidnapping but is really just Ivan’s attempt to give her the fantasy she’d said she really wanted. Can any true relationship, even a D/s one, really be forged out of such a traumatic beginning? Or is Gia fooling herself that Ivan thinks of her as something more than a temporary amusement?
One of the things Ann Mayburn does best is write a scene between a Dom/me and a submissive that is both incendiary and intense. Even when Ivan is pretending to be Gia’s kidnapper instead of the Master who bought her, he is still a fascinating and irresistible character, one that any woman would want to dominate her if she were so inclined. GIa’s mind may insist at first that she’s just experiencing Stockholm Syndrome but her body is completely on board for wherever this ride will take her. Ivan and Gia’s intimate scenes together only become more impassioned after the kidnapping ruse is abandoned and they start forming a more tender bond with one another. This emotional bonding between the hero and heroine is what I’ve come to expect as a regular reader of Ann Mayburn’s books and “Ivan’s Captive Submissive” did not disappoint in that category.
There were, however, a few issues I had with the story that were troubling enough to keep me from giving it a higher rating. The main problem I had was with Gia herself. We’re told that she has a quick temper and we definitely see that excitability in play several times throughout the book. High spirits are one thing, but for me it seemed that she was always looking for something to be offended or angry about. While that worked well in a remarkable scene where she lays direct claim to Ivan in front of other submissives who would dare attempt to touch him in front of her, Gia’s tendency to snap was especially problematic for me in the penultimate scene of the book.
View Spoiler »A few days after Ivan has convinced Gia to come to Russia with him, his semi-declaration of love sets Gia off to the point where she uses her safeword, insists that she’s done with him and is leaving for the American embassy to get a flight back home. Just then, Ivan’s uncle calls to tell Gia that Ivan loves her and offers her a job with his own company and a separate place to live so that she won’t go back to America. This inspires Gia to immediately propose marriage to Ivan, which he readily accepts. So they went from happy to broken up to engaged all in the same scene. I had a problem with that. You might not. « Hide Spoiler
I was also concerned that Gia really didn’t know all that much about Ivan, other than that he was incredibly wealthy and had a large extended family in the immediate Moscow area. We the readers are told that Ivan has family connections with both the Russian underworld and spy agencies, but it wasn’t until nearly the end of the book before Gia indicates that she even knows his last name. Gia’s worries about committing herself to this man are more than understandable and I was relieved that the book ended with a Happy For Now, because neither of them is quite ready for anything beyond that yet.
Those issues aside, I did enjoy reading “Ivan’s Captive Submissive” and will definitely be reading the next book in the series. Ann Mayburn always writes heroes that make me swoon and I can’t wait to meet the next winning bidder at the Submissive’s Wish Charity Auction.
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