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Series: The Surrender Series #3
Also in this series: The Gilded Cage
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense, BDSM, Fiction, Erotica
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Also by this author: The Gilded Cage, Forbidden
For years, Callie Taylor has been obsessed with two things: a man she can never have and escaping to Paris where she can follow her artistic passions. But everything changes when Callie meets Wes Thorne, a wealthy, mysterious art collector and famous dominant. Despite all the nights she's spent dreaming of another man, it is Wes's predatory gaze that suddenly consumes her every thought and sets her body on fire. One touch from him promises unforgettable passion, but Callie knows that passion often comes with a price..
From the moment he sets eyes on Callie, Wes is intrigued by her artistic talent and her delightful innocence of all things erotic. A stolen kiss leaves him aching and desperate to claim her in a way he's never wanted any woman. But first he must convince her to surrender her control. And what better place to seduce an artistic soul like Callie's than Paris?
ARC provided by Author/Publisher for honest review.
The Gilded Chain is the third book in the Surrender series by Lauren Smith. Each book is written in a way that it can be enjoyed as a stand alone novel — I read book two without having read book one — however, I strongly suggest reading book two prior to enjoying this one. You’ll appreciate the heroine’s situation more having seen how she ends up on the path she takes.
“I’m done with men, done with love, done with all of that romantic nonsense. It’s not worth the pain.”
Callie has loved Fenn since before she even understood what it meant to love. When the secrets of Fenn’s past are revealed and his life is flipped upside-down, it takes Callie by surprise and changes everything forever.
“You’re allowed to cry when your heart is broken, but just know that when you’re ready the entire world awaits you.”
I really enjoyed Callie’s character. She’s so innocent in many ways, yet hard as nails in others. It was hard to see how heartbroken she was after she realized she’d put her whole heart into a man who would never see her as anything but a little sister. A platonic love. I wanted to throttle Fenn, but at the same time, the happily ever after he got in his book was just meant to be.
Wes is one of four best friends who were both pulled together and torn apart by tragedy. That single moment in his past forever changed not only his life, but the lives of his three best friends. The background story that is laid out in the first two books is tragic, ugly cry worthy. Reasonably enough, Wes, had closed off his heart and focused on simple pleasures — beautiful submissive women and art. I thought it would be hard to engage with his character at first, but quickly changed my mind. He turned out to be an unexpected breath of fresh air.
Chemistry between Callie and Wes was off the charts hot. Even with Wes making it quite clear he wanted to get her between the sheets, he was mostly patient with her. He pushed her boundaries, but no more than she needed. They were good together.
“I’ve never pursued happiness, but being with you…happiness comes so easily.”
The Gilded Chain is a really good read. I liked the characters, the continuation of the story from the previous book, and the build up for what will come in Royce’s book. I do have a couple of issues with the BDSM aspects of the story: Wes was portrayed as a Dominant/Master, that he was an intense Dom, but I never really felt that. He was a kinky alpha for sure, but I never really saw that ‘Master’ side of him. Yes, he talked about collaring and how procedures would be for when she was submitting, but it just never really fit with his character. It was disappointing, but didn’t take away from the overall storyline.
Callie needed to get away from him. Just because she’d agreed to go to Paris with him didn’t mean she wanted him to follow her around all day. She wanted to be left alone, left in peace. Not being intimidated by a man who was the personification of sin when she’d just sworn yesterday to avoid men like him. This bet was likely just a way for him to amuse himself. He had to be playing with her. Nothing more. There was no way a man like him would have any interest in her, and she didn’t want him to. Wes would want a tall, polished model, a thin society beauty, not a short, curvy girl in jeans with calloused hands. It just didn’t make any sense for him to be interested in her. He had to be really bored out here if he was paying attention to her. I must be the only female for miles if he’s paying attention to me. It was a depressing thought.
“I’m sorry. I’m not in the best mood. You should probably just go.” Please go away, she prayed. If she had to ask again, she feared her plan to avoid men like him wouldn’t last. She’d be a sucker all over again and throw her heart into something only to get hurt. No more Ms. Nice Guy. I have to protect myself, don’t I?
The intense wolfish gleam in his eyes softened and he inched toward her. Before she could move, he trapped her against one of the posts bearing an old saddle she’d been oiling earlier that day. The thick scent of the hay, the tang of the oil, and the exhale of Wes’s breath consumed her, shrinking her universe into this one infinite yet enclosed span of time. He rested one hand on the saddle by her waist, so close, but not quite touching her hip. His other hand curled under her chin and gently lifted it up so she had to tilt her head back to look him in the eye. His gentle but firm touch made that newly built brick wall around her heart quake.
No, I can’t let him get inside my head. She had to control her emotions and her response to him.
“Shed your tears for him, Callie. You are allowed that much,” he whispered. His warm breath fanned across her lips as his face inched closer to hers.
“Allowed?” She bristled and flattened her hands on his chest, pushing hard. He didn’t budge.
“Yes.” He smiled, almost coldly. “You’re allowed to cry when your heart is broken, but just know that when you’re ready the entire world awaits you.”
Wes cupped her cheek, closed the distance between them, and pressed his lips to hers. It was no chaste kiss. His tongue slid inside, stroking hers, and she jolted against him. He assaulted her senses, his hands suddenly everywhere, sliding slowly over her back, tracing her hips, caressing the sensitive skin at the nape of her neck. Her blood thundered in her ears, like the resounding beats of a mustang’s hooves upon the fields on the other side of the mountains.
His teeth sank into her bottom lip, the little sting making her gasp in shock and a traitorous zing of awareness and pleasure rippled through her. He coaxed, teased, and played with her mouth and seemed to be memorizing her body with the way his palms shaped her curves and slopes. She couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. She had to stop this. She needed to…When she started to tremble he suddenly stepped back and rested his forehead against hers, their shared breaths an equal measure of soft pants.
“You aren’t ready. Not yet.” He brushed a lock of her hair back from her face and tucked it behind one of her ears. The gesture was intimate and tender. She trembled.
“Ready for what?” she demanded, but her tone was breathless.
“For me. But you will be. I have thirty days to prove it to you. Unfortunately I have to return to Weston for a few days but I’ll come back and pick you up.” He withdrew from her personal space, gazing for one minute longer at her before he strode out of the tack room and away from her.