Review: Thorne: Rose's Dark Contract by R.B. O'Brien


Author: R.B. O’Brien

Genre: Erotic Suspense, Erotic Romance

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My rating: 5 of 5

Blurb: Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven…the primrose path—Shakespeare

William Thorne is a powerful man with dark needs and a troubled past who doesn’t have the time nor the desire for romantic relationships or notions.

Through meticulous planning and iron-clad contracts, Thorne has managed to maintain a modicum of balance, control, and happiness by employing personal assistants to aid him in all aspects of his professional and personal life.

Sex with no strings attached. Obedience without questions. An arrangement of mutual benefit. No mess. No love. No expectations. Nothing beyond a signed contract.

But when Thorne meets recent music grad, Victoria Rose, the shy and beautiful down-on-her-luck waitress, obsession replaces his carefully constructed thinking. He becomes so fixated on having her, without a full understanding of who she is, that he rushes her contract, making mistake after mistake before the ink even dries. His once neat and controlled existence becomes blurred and smudged.

Can the mistakes he makes be erased from Rose’s dark contract? Or will the damage leave an indelible mark that nobody could have seen coming?

Review: Ever since I started having erotic fantasies most of them included some form of sexual corruption and unraveling. These are also some of my favorite pieces of writing but it is difficult to find a dark story that doesn’t involve non-consent, kidnapping and extreme conditioning/brainwashing. R.B. O’Brien definitely knows how to write a romantic story of a taboo relationship involving the corruption of innocence, domination, submission, kink and unexpected love.

Her characters are usually damaged in one way or another, which is pretty typical for the dark romance subgenre, but they are also well-rounded, likable and easy to identify with. The author had a fantastic start with Natalie Smith and Michael Black from the Natalie’s Edge series. In the first part of Thorne, she continues developing her skills as a writer and takes us on an unforgettable ride with an unexpected twist. The journey of William Thorne and Victoria Rose to one another and to themselves is like a long, dark road and any hint of a happy ending is beyond our line of sight… at least at the first book.
William does everything he can to persuade you that you should hate, despise and condemn him as a monster. And make no mistake, like another reviewer pointed out he is not a nice guy. I must say I liked his character for being so contradictory. He was arrogant yet he frequently showed how insecure he was, cruel and ashamed of his ability to show tenderness. I also loved his totally unapologetic my-way-or-the-highway attitude. We are given small clues of the secrets from his past, from that fatal event, which changed his life but the author does a great job of keeping us guessing.
It is always a pleasure when such a character who has arranged the walls around him so well gets defeated by the last person they’d expect. Victoria Rose, Thorne’s latest “personal assistant/concubine”, seems like the typical ingénue, young, easily impressionable and very weak at first sight. She may appear like your typical Mary Sue-ish, bland female who gets swept off her feet by the douche rich guy and who has no strength to stop him from abusing her. But over the story, I think she frequently showed subtle, feminine strength and intelligence. Victoria was a sympathetic character down on her luck who tried to make the best of the bad circumstances. Nothing could prepare a girl for her, virginal and unaware of her own submissive tendencies, for Thorne’s sadistic games.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but none of the characters are what they appear to be, especially Victoria. The story has great pacing, interesting secondary characters, truly suspenseful atmosphere, an implied mystery and some truly off the charts kinky sex. All I’m going to say is that you should prepare for some steamy episodes in which pain and pleasure turn in two parts of the same experience, so tightly woven in one another it is impossible to distinguish them. Thorne really knows how to manipulate a woman’s body and mind till she is begging and crying for more.
Just like the author. At the unexpected end of the novel, you’d be begging her to write Part 2 as soon as possible. I can’t wait for the next installment!

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