My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.
I originally read CONTROL a few years ago back when I was first starting to venture into erotic romance and I’m still convinced it’s one of the best examples of the genre. In it, Charlotte Stein shows that a person’s sexual desires can’t be contained in neat and tidy boxes and that losing control is sometimes the only way to regain it for good.
Madison needs someone to help out at her bookstore, but she can’t hire just anyone. It has to be someone who is not only comfortable being around erotic books all day long, but is also good at taking direction. Certainly Andy isn’t the best choice, as he would prefer to tell Madison what to do, even as she feels like she ought to be able to say no. It’s only when Madison interviews the quiet and unassuming Gabriel that she finds the ideal assistant and the perfect subject for her own need to take control. The more Madison pries her way into Gabriel’s closed-off world, the more she realizes that her superficial life isn’t any better than his. But with Andy as the wild card, it’s not certain whether any of them will figure out what they want, or who they want to be with in the end.
It’s hard for me to describe why I love this book so unreservedly. Perhaps it’s the way that Charlotte Stein can so perfectly get into someone’s psyche and describe the confusion caused by unconventional sexual desire. Her writing is so understated at times that the sex almost sounds more clinical than conventionally romantic, yet all the emotions are fully present and accounted for. We see how Gabriel has locked himself down as a reaction to a chaotic childhood spent with hoarder parents, and how this has been reflected in his sexuality. It’s his control that Madison both envies and wants to break, not even knowing why until she realizes her love for him. Even Andy, who acts as the bull in this particular china shop, knows that what Madison and Gabriel share is something special. It’s that knowledge Madison needs when Gabriel reaches his breaking point, and she has to take responsibility for putting him back together again.
CONTROL is both a wildly erotic and heart-breaking love story, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s also why I’ll always read everything Charlotte Stein writes.
Sensuality level: 4 (menage, humiliation play, light BDSM)