Review: The Boss by Abigail Barnette

May 30, 2014 Books, Reading, Reviews 3 ★★★★

Review: The Boss by Abigail BarnetteThe Boss by Abigail Barnette
four-stars

Sophie Scaife almost ran away once, trading her ticket to college for a ticket to Tokyo. But a delayed flight and a hot one-night stand with a stranger changed her mind, putting her firmly on track to a coveted position at a New York fashion magazine.

When the irresistible stranger from that one incredible night turns out to be her new boss – billionaire and publishing magnate Neil Elwood – Sophie can’t resist the chance to rekindle the spark between them… and the opportunity to explore her submissive side with the most Dominant man she’s ever known.

Neil is the only man who has ever understood Sophie’s need to submit in the bedroom, and the only man who has ever satisfied those desires. When their scorching, no-strings-attached sexual relationship becomes something more, Sophie must choose between her career and heart… or risk losing them both.

Also available on Smashwords.

Series: The Boss #1
Published by Self-Published on July 15, 2013
Genres: BDSM Erotica, BDSM Romance, Erotic Romance, Erotica, Romance
Pages: 353
Format: eBook
Find this book on Goodreads
Buy the Book at: Amazon
This book contains potentially triggering material. You can find details of potential triggers at the end of this review.

Do you hear that, guys? It’s the sound of an angelic chorus ringing out through the skies. I have finally found BDSM erotica that not only doesn’t suck but is feminist-friendly.

I’ll give you all a moment to take that in.

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Now, on with the review. I came across this book while reading Jenny Trout’s recap of the 50 Shades series (which is a must read if you haven’t checked that out already). This book is essentially her answer to that nightmare of a book series and every copycat version that has come out in its wake. Stereotypically negative BDSM dynamics are presented in a positive, healthy manner while still being wonderfully sexy. It helps that Jenny, writing under the pseudonym Abigail Barnette, is a self-professed enjoyer of kink. She knows what she is talking about, and it really shows in the work. The characters are likable and there is just the right amount of drama that moves the story along without feeling like it’s just there to pad out the scenes between each encounter.

Something that I’ve seen in most of the erotica that I’ve read – or, at the very least, tried to read – is that the characters lack any kind of emotional draw. More often than not, the male characters are just thoroughgoing assholes who I’d never want near my vagina, even in a fictional capacity. The lead characters, who are almost exclusively women, are written as transparently as possible. Perhaps this is to allow the reader to slip into her shoes, or perhaps it’s lack of creativity on the author’s part. Either way, I don’t enjoy it and I much prefer someone like Sophie, who is smart and funny and quite charming. She is very much a fully developed person, as are even the supporting characters in this book. Even as things are going spectacularly wrong for her later in the book, she tries to keep her priorities straight as much as humanly possible. Rather than the male character being the commitment-phobic one of the pair, Sophie is the one who shies away from the idea of a serious relationship. More importantly, Sophie is a feminist, and words cannot express how much I appreciate having an “out” feminist as a protagonist in any story, but especially in erotica.

Neil is very professional when we first encounter him, but without being a complete jerk. However, we get to know him better as the two get reacquainted and endeavor on their arrangement. He is stupidly wealthy, but he also believes in philanthropic ventures and treating Sophie as his equal regardless of their incomes or ages (about a 20 year age difference between the two. I dug it, but I can see some people not being into that, so it’s worth pointing out). He does have a few moments where he can be paternalistic or distant with Sophie, though she does call him on it instead of accepting it. I think if that wasn’t included, I wouldn’t like him nearly as much. Both characters have their flaws, but it makes them all the more tangible and adds a healthy amount of drama to the development of their relationship without seeming trite.

The best thing about these two characters is that they act like adults, even during disagreements. They discuss what kind of relationship they want, the aforementioned “no strings attached” variety, and continue to be open with each other as that shifts into something different. Safer sex methods are used, save for one encounter, and the characters share their test results with each other to ensure they are both clean.

Pamela will agree with me that the sex scenes in this book are blindingly hot, as I was frequently copying them into our instant message conversations and texts while reading this book over the weekend. There aren’t earth-shattering simultaneous orgasms like in some popular “BDSM” books out there (*cough* *cough*), there are very realistically sexy and frequent ones, and the sex isn’t always super serious, even during the bondage play. It can be very sweet and playful at times. I didn’t feel like I was reading the same sex scene over and over again. Nor did I have to suffer through flowery or vague descriptions of genitalia – thank the pervy lord.

And, by god, there is responsible kink happening all throughout this book.

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Neil was everything you would want in a Dom – he is commanding, but responsible and sensitive to Sophie when she serves as his sub. He ensures that Sophie understands the safe words and hand signals before they begin. When Sophie does need to call a timeout, he listens to her and stops the session, making sure that she feels safe and can relax. He never forces her into doing anything with which she feels uncomfortable or unsafe. Scissors are kept nearby during rope bondage. They even address the issue of sub drop after their first encounter in this dynamic, and Neil works to make sure Sophie doesn’t go through that emotional dive again.

*sighs dreamily* What a good Dom. I really can’t get over how happy I am to see this after so many terrible examples.

I found very little that I disliked about the book. One particular act involving a hair elastic being snapped against Sophie’s clit isn’t my cup of tea, but the writing itself isn’t the issue. It just had me flinching more than unf-ing. Neil takes a pretty big risk in carrying on with Sophie at the office and that seems a bit irresponsible for his character… but what results is also kinda hot (I’m weak, sue me). The romance may seem to happen somewhat quickly, but sometimes you have to suspend disbelief a little in order to progress the story. It is an erotic romance, after all.

There are some instances where the characters can be frustrating but overall, without giving too much away, I like how they handled themselves. I am very eager to see how the story continues and what kind of sexy encounters Sophie and Neil will have next. This book does have a cliffhanger ending, so fair warning there. Of course, that made me immediately go buy the second book, The Girlfriend. Sadly, it is not free like The Boss, but $3.99 for the e-book edition is pretty easy on the checking account.

Content Warning: There is a mention of past sexual assault by one of the supporting characters later in the book.