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Book CoverDevon’s review of Retreat by Mari Carr
Erotic romantic suspense eBook released by Ellora’s Cave 26 Nov 08

I knew there was a possibility this one would be ridiculous (check out the summary to see why). A BDSM cult? What would that be all about? But yet I was strangely intrigued. What kind of an effect would being raised in a BDSM cult have on one’s psyche? Although I suspected that this was a rather exploitative plot device to raise the kink factor, I had to give it a go.

If you’re looking for a deep exploration of the cult mentality, and the effects of being raised in one, you’ve got the wrong book. What the cult was all about, what role BDSM actually had in the cult—we don’t really know. There was a religious aspect, but it wasn’t really explained. I felt that the BDSM factor was there to up the creepy atmosphere and explain the heroes’ (Jon and Night’s) sexual predilections. To the author’s credit, the BDSM/cult aspect was not treated exploitatively, but rather as the form of child abuse it was. Although there is a bit of light D/s, this is not a BDSM story. Jon and Night enjoy what they enjoy, but do not want to live that lifestyle.

Retreat was plagued by a number of ridiculous plot elements. Jon and Night spent their formative years in this corrupt cult, with no formal schooling. As teenagers they are recruited by a super-secret government agency to bring down the cult. They will not be punished for their activities if they then join the agency. ??? Is the government so hard up for qualified people? Then, later in the story, the government agent is determined to recruit Carly, Jon’s love interest, to go undercover at the compound, where nefarious activities may have resumed. This only thing more preposterous than this is the fact that Carly, an insecure school secretary, is totally ready to go. Oh yeah, sign me up too. Please.

I found some of the romance ridiculousness much easier to swallow, because Ms. Carr writes some very nice characters. The initial romance between Jon and Carly was nice — tentative, based in friendship. But Jon has the uncontrollable compulsion to share the ladies with best friend Night. The previously insecure and inexperienced Carly is more than willing to fall into bed with them both, and to fall in love with Night in about a minute, to boot. It’s a bit hard to swallow [Ed.: heh], but I enjoyed all three characters and their interactions. Too bad the suspense plot was absurd.

Sometimes, after reading too many erotic romances, I start to look at people differently. Does that lady in Target live in a happy ménage with two men? Does the guy in Stop & Shop have the need to share his women with a best friend or brother? It’s just so prevalent in Erotic Romanceland, and I don’t know any in real life. Maybe just me. Mari Carr has been read, enjoyed and reviewed at TGTBTU before. I suspect I would enjoy her straight contemporaries better, as I did like the characters and romance. The suspense plot was just so silly, though.

reviewer iconGrade: C+

The Summary:
Jon Walker and Night Thomas lived their childhood in a cult. They embraced the lifestyle, and it was there that they were trained as BDSM Masters. Only when the cult was infiltrated by undercover agent Reilly did the boys learn of the cult’s seedy underside, and help to destroy it.

Nearly fifteen years later, Jon’s job as a high school teacher — and his lust for the school’s gorgeous secretary, Carly — bring him close to the normal life he’s always craved. Just when that life is within his grasp, Reilly returns. An incarnation of the cult has resurfaced with Jon’s evil mother at the helm, and Reilly wants Jon and Night to go undercover to stop Cassandra Walker once and for all.

Shocked by his mother’s return and his BDSM past come back to haunt him, Jon is terrified of Carly discovering his dark secrets. Including the darkest of all — his complex relationship with Night, and his unrelenting urge to share Carly with his best friend.

Read an excerpt