Author: Marina Anderson
Erotic fiction is a genre much older than Fifty Shades of Grey but I do have to concede that the trilogy has brought the genre to the attention of a much broader audience.
As testament to that statement, I have just discovered that this is a re-release. The book was originally published in 2000 and is now finding a new audience and a new life in the Fifty Shades phenomena, it isn’t the first book of this genre to be re-released because the timing is right and I doubt it will be the last.
I have not read the Fifty Shades trilogy but I am a book loving, breathing woman so have heard quite a bit about the books; both positive and negative. I don’t want to compare Haven of Obedience to the Fifty Shades books, partly because I like, and try, to assess all books on their own merits and partly because I haven’t actually read them. I find it difficult not to compare what I have heard of the trilogy with what I have read in Haven of Obedience and that’s largely because of the ‘Devoured Fifty Shades?’ sticker placed on the cover, directly above ‘You’re now ready to enter the… Haven of Obedience’.
The Fifty Shades phenomena sweeping the globe has brought the genre to the forefront and has people clamouring for more and the market is certainly trying to be accommodating. I have stayed away from the phenomena up until this point but always known that if something came across my desk I would read it, but I wouldn’t go actively searching for it.
There is intimacy in many books across many genres and that means that most books I read contain sex scenes. Most of the time these are spread sparingly through the book when relevant and necessary to the development of the storyline, in some books more than others but for the most part they are secondary to the storyline.
Haven of Obedience is not one of those books! The action starts on page 4 and doesn’t really stop until the books closing lines on page 327. The chances of finding content of a sexual nature on any random page you opened the book to are about 96% at a guess. The story is definitely secondary to the sex in the Haven of Obedience and that is made clear from the outset.
At the same time the book is an exercise in self-discovery for the protagonist, an introduction to a new way of life and a world of new sensations. The strong, successful businesswoman is the envy of many but outside of her career life is empty and what’s the point of unrivaled success if you have no-one to share it with.
Natalie Bowen is a gorgeous, successful, twenty-something career woman envied by many and dumped by almost as many men who can’t cope with her need to control every situation she finds herself in, not the ideal way to enjoy the success of her magazine; a magazine that is aimed at successful women like herself. At least through it all she has the companionship of her best friend – a successful casting director in a similar position. Until said friend becomes way too busy to find time for Natalie and super secretive about why.
Best friends being what they are Natalie discovers the reasons behind the change in her friend and lays on the pressure, and the guilt, about securing an invitation. Natalie is used to calling the shots and doing it her way, she believes she knows best – especially when it comes to her pleasure in the bedroom. She’s not so far up herself that she can’t admit that could be part of the problem and may need some work; which is right where The Haven comes in.
The Haven is a weekend retreat designed to teach people to relinquish control, to open themselves to new experiences and new behaviour patterns. The entire book is based around the experience Natalie gains at her retreat – which she has booked over two weeks rather than booking for the intensive course.
The bulk of the book takes place at The Haven, which should mean it’s no surprise that the bulk of the book is the activities Natalie participates in (or is subjected to depending on your perspective) during her two weekends at The Haven.
The activities are designed to change the need to take control in any given situation and to teach self control in those same situations.
Graphic and explicit detail is employed leaving little to the imagination. The characters are not very well developed but their appetites and appearances certainly are. The book is well written, the activities are imaginative and all encompassing and the participants are intelligent, consenting adults who quickly discover what it is they signed up for and are free to change their mind at any time.
Obedience is the bottom line here, relinquishing control in situations that you would normally exert it in, so there are situations of voyeurism, humiliation, punishment, submission but always in a controlled situation where participants are free to say NO.
The language is descriptive and evocative and I just have to say that this author knows the names for the anatomical areas she’s describing and for the most part isn’t afraid to use them. There is one descriptive term that always pulled me up a little short but I couldn’t think of anything better to call it and it was a better term than some I’d heard so got over it.
There is a story here, not necessarily as strong as it could be but strong enough that I found this to be an enjoyable easy read that will titillate fans of the genre that are in it for the action.