Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Erotic Thriller (BDSM)
Release Date: September 6, 2012
Blurb: Detective Tom Hanson has a string of grotesquely mutilated bodies on his hands and no answers—aside from the fact that the victims were members of an underground sex club catering to singular erotic tastes. Tastes the long, lean detective has sampled himself in the arms of his former lover, a fiery redhead who offered the most erotic, irresistible sex he’d ever encountered. Until the night she’d begged for the one thing he couldn’t give, and he lost her forever.
Gina Larsen is the only one who can guide Hanson through the fringe world of dark fantasy and desire that lies hidden deep beneath the Bible Belt. Lured into her lair by a quest for justice, Hanson discovers his hunger for Gina has only grown stronger and deeper…beyond the edge of control. Soon he’s shedding his last inhibitions in the search for answers, but the more she draws him into her erotic web, the less he can distinguish between passion and duty, pleasure and pain…good and evil.
When I first noticed Red on NetGalley, I was intrigued by what seemed to be a darker journey into BDSM. I feel that Fifty Shades of Grey has really taken over (whether negatively or positively) as the "example" of the BDSM lifestyle in novels, when really it's more of a romanticized tale with a bit of bondage and butt-slappin'. Lately, I've been picking up more novels than ever before in this genre - really trying to be open minded to BDSM as more than just a "lifestyle." That being said, Red was absolutely NOT FSoG.
Firstly, I'd like to say that I know *nothing* about the BDSM community. I am only privy to what I've read and documentaries I've watched. So I do not know how accurately the lifestyle is depicted in Red, but I did feel as though some scene's seemed very real...while others were very surreal. And that is how my thoughts of BDSM range as well - somethings I can imagine and others I could never.
Tom Hansen is a typical police officer, who stumbled upon the BDSM lifestyle thanks to his former partner-turned-lover Gina Larsen. After a terrible fallout between Hansen and Larsen over a very public uncovering of Larsen's sexual preferences, she leaves the force due to the constant abuse and lack of respect from her fellow officers. Worst of all is that Hansen never bothered to stand up for her, thinking too much of what his fellow officers would think and the possibility of being ostracized from his community. When forced to meet up again and involve Gina in the case, Tom is faced with his past and battles to move beyond it and maybe even allow his inner freak-flag to fly.
We are introduced to a multitude of characters in this story - the right-winged married couple, a young girl just learning about her sexuality after a lifetime of suppression, the dominant sadomasochistic sociopath, a cheating husband dominant in his sexual life while leashed by his wife, and that of two police officers finding the balance between sexuality and comfortability. Even the devoutly religious and sublimely selfish police chief all play a role in this developmentally unique novel.
Overall, I really enjoyed the premise of Red. I felt like it was gripping and honest - almost too much so. Definitely a gruesome story - with details that a non-thriller reader such as myself was a little disturbed by but each was completely necessary. I also loved Hanson's partner Griggs - lightening the mood with his inappropriate and overtly sexual banter.
While after reading this novel I appreciated it and was happy to've read it, the first few chapters were very difficult for me to get through. The first chapter was very uncomfortable for me...but as I pushed through I came to understand that these characters are just like you and me, no matter how vulgar and off-putting the opening lines were. I think this was Kinsey's intention, however it was off-putting enough to reduce my rating of this novel.
I am so happy to have Red in my Kindle library and am looking forward to adding it to my bookshelf as well. A definite must-read for anyone interested in BDSM and willing to open themselves to a unique story of love, loss, death, and discovery.