Author: Nicolette Hugo
Exhibition is the second in the Unchained Vice series by Australian author Nicolette Hugo and I found it to be much darker than The Arrangement.
We met Jason Wright the Dom photographer in the Arrangement, he was a secondary character met by Nell at an exhibition, in Exhibition we get to know him a lot better.
Exhibition is an erotic BDSM tale that offers much more than I was expecting. The characters are more intricate and deeply damaged than I thought could effectively be explored in an ebook of this length.
Grace Cantrell is a tortured soul who has sworn off kink since a play scene went horribly wrong and her very vanilla best friend helped convince her to deny that side of herself, telling her it was self destructive and she would never be able to heal while still involved in the scene. The problem with advice like that from a vanilla friend is the complete lack of understanding; of the scene and of Grace.
It seems to me that BDSM is a lifestyle choice, like many others, that people are attracted to for countless different reasons. Grace likes being able to keep it impersonal, to be anonymous, and she likes the idea of punishment. She has been broken so many times she’s not sure she will ever be whole again, and she doesn’t think she deserves to be.
Jason Wright, talented and successful photographer who often brings his art together with his erotic tastes. He is a Dom and he seems to make no apologies for who he is, he seems completely comfortable with himself. Of course, there is more to him than that and we discover he isn’t quite as comfortable as he may like people to believe but his control is impeccable.
Jason is a master of pain, he is an experienced Dom who knows how to ride the line and send his playmates flying high on the endorphins they crave. He is also a master of control to ensure that he is always completely attuned to who he is with.
Exhibition does an impressive job of exploring the dynamics of a relationship between someone who needs the BDSM and a vanilla partner who doesn’t understand the need or the attraction.
This is an erotic novel so the heat is scorching as can be expected, it is set in the BDSM world so the sex scenes are far from ordinary, which is also to be expected. Quite often books of this genre can be cover to cover gratuitous sex scenes but I didn’t feel that way about this one. I think the scenes were necessary to the unfolding of the underlying romance and to getting to know the characters and what makes them tick.
Exhibition takes us further into pain than I had gone before and I will admit it took me a while to get my head around it all. I am all for different strokes but I did wonder if this would be a little too difficult to read. In the end I found it interesting to see how deeply one could go into pain and still find pleasure.
This book explored obedience and control as well as the different ways people get their pleasure and it was sensual to see how that was tied up in Jason’s art.
I really enjoyed Exhibition and though this isn’t really my genre I would be interested to see how far Hugo can take this series. The characters were much more intricately drawn than I expected and I enjoyed watching their journeys of self discovery and the way that Grace was finally able to begin to embrace herself.
Exhibition is book #52 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.
Exhibition is available through Momentum Moonlight from September 24th.