Warning….This review DOES contain spoilers for Slave, book one in the finding Anna series.
Brianna made the decision to remain Stephan’s sub at the end of Slave. No longer completely broken, she realises that this is a decision she can make of her own free will. But by choosing to become his sub, the kid gloves come off and Brianna must now learn what Stephan expects from a woman he Dominates. Her past is a constant presence in their relationship; can she really overcome all her fears and be more than a slave to him?
Stephan fell in love with Brianna before she chose to become his sub. He helped her recover the only way he knew how, even going so far as to alienate his family, but now things have to be different. Brianna wants to give them a shot but the only way to do that is to see if she can be what he needs from a partner. He can’t be easy on her or he will short-change them both and could cause more harm than good. He knows he has to adapt his usual methods as pain will put her recovery back, but he is a resourceful man. Can he be the Dom she needs to fully recover?
When a friend from Brianna’s past appears, it looks like they could have more issues than just wangling the boundaries of a D/s relationship. This friend knew Brianna from before her Father sold her into slavery and the last thing they want is him finding her again. Alongside that, as Brianna and Stephan step out in public, they come across more and more faces that have been complicit in her torture at the hands of Ian. Is there too many external factors preventing them from gaining their HEA?
I requested this from NetGalley because I adored the first one. This one didn’t have the emotional punch that book one had, but it certainly had enough meat to keep me going. One thing that you need to be aware of in this book is that there are no surprises; this is not a guess-who, you know the ending. This is story that is about the emotional journey of a woman who has been betrayed and abused in the worst way possible and the man who loves her enough to try to heal her.
Some reviews I have read have had an issue with the way that Brianna is treated by Stephan. I don’t. Brianna wanted to try to become a sub that Stephan could build a future with; she willingly gave him power over her when she offered him her submission. She could walk away at any point but she wanted to try. For Stephan to treat her any other way wouldn’t have worked for either of them; this was effectively a trial run for their future together. Stephan did make some adaptations to his usual methods for her but he couldn’t be a vanilla lover. He did have rules, he did put punishment in place when she couldn’t cope but they were more humiliating than painful. What I loved the most was that I got the feeling that he was willing to walk away if she couldn’t cope with what he needed. He wouldn’t allow either of them to be in a relationship that didn’t work as he had too much respect for them both.
Brianna was certainly different in this book. She had more belief in herself, was more empowered to makes some decisions herself. She wasn’t completely healed (and by the extra horrific details given in this book about her time in captivity, you know she never will be) but she was an individual and not an extension of Stephan. I loved watching her get stronger with every passing page, I loved watching the way she dealt with her new Dom’ rules and I loved the way that she was able to stand up for herself. She was still nervous, still questioned herself at every turn and still needed reassurance but, if you have read book one, you will realise that this is an improvement. A shy, nervous Brianna is not a mindless slave.
The addition of the faces from the past brought out interesting sides to both of their characters. We saw how Brianna was away from the D/s lifestyle, giving us hints of what is to come from her. We also saw how far Stephan was willing to go to protect Brianna from her past too and this was something that I would like to see developed further.
Overall, this is a series which I have loved. It is an emotional journey which tears at your heart and leaves you slightly breathless. It isn’t an easy tale, it is not one which will make you laugh, but with every step Brianna steps towards her end goal, the weight in your chest becomes a little less heavy. I can say without book One this tale wouldn’t have the impact that it did on me. I saw Brianna lost and broken; in book two, we see her start to re-emerge from her broken foundations.