My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.
K.T. Grant is a new author to me, although I’m familiar with her alter ego @KatieBabs on Twitter and have shared conversations with her before about other people’s books and book blogging in general. When I found out she had written her own BDSM Billionaire erotic romance, I had to read it for myself to see how she would handle this still popular but increasingly overdone trope. I’m happy to say that The Gate is one of the better examples of the genre and although it also has the prerequisite cliffhanger, it’s one that worked well within the context of the story.
Erika Walsh is the classic sheltered woman who has spent her whole life in the shadow of her outgoing magnate father, preferring to stay at home instead of chancing a panic attack in public. She has a modest career of her own, writing successful children’s novels, and is seemingly content with her quiet single life. The one wish she allows herself is that someday she might be swept off her feet by Christopher Milton, the man who will one day take over her father’s publishing house. He’s never really said he’s interested in her, but they did share a few passionate kisses in private once and Erika hopes that perhaps one day he’ll make the next move.
M.L. Crawford is a media magnate in his own right, and a direct competitor of Erika’s father. If the stories Christopher tells are to be believed, Crawford is looking to steal Walsh Publications away, and is a man who cannot be trusted. But the sins of M.L Crawford aren’t of any interest to Erika, as she’s never met the man in person. That’s because much like Erika herself, Crawford prefers to stay in the shadows, allowing others to be the public face of his company.
It was only under duress that Erika agreed to attend the public gala where her father was being presented with a major award, and when he insists on bringing her up on stage with him, she’s sure she’ll have one of her panic attacks. What she doesn’t know is that the darkly handsome man at the bar who spotted her on that stage will change her life the moment she lets him pay for her drink. His name is Max.
The best thing about The Gate for me was the relationship between Max and Erika, which is as it should be with a romance novel. Max needed her sweetness and sheltered innocence just as much as Erika needed his confidence and determination. Together they helped each other grow in the direction that had been lacking in each of their lives apart. It wasn’t just Max rescuing Erika from a half-lived life and the potential of a terrible marriage with Christopher, who was far from the white knight Erika had imagined. Erika rescued Max from an equally half-lived existence, one where he never permitted himself to experience true love after the tragic loss of so many other people he’d loved and cared for. By the time The Gate ends, they are both better people and better for each other, but they aren’t quite where they need to be – hence the “To Be Continued” ending.
There was a secondary plot in The Gate involving Max’s close friend Catherine that often threatened to take center stage away from Max and Erika, and kept me from loving the book more than I did. Catherine’s past is thoroughly entwined with Max’s in a way that can’t be explained without spoiling the story, and I understand why she needed to be a part of his story. Yet I couldn’t help thinking that the way her Master (a man we never actually saw) was portrayed made him sound like an abusive stalker, and I kept wondering why she didn’t just cut ties with him once and for all. I hope that Catherine is able to find the answer to her ongoing dilemma in the next book, but that the focus will remain on Erika and Max, which is where it should be.
The Gate is a great read with a hero and heroine worth caring about, and an ongoing story that I want to stay with through the final book. It’s refreshing to see that K.T. Grant has indeed taken the BDSM Billionaire erotic romance trope and made it her own. The next book in the Dark Path series is one I can’t wait to read.