on December 6, 2016
The price of survival…
Gabriel Miller swept into my life like a storm. He tore down my father with cold retribution, leaving him penniless in a hospital bed. I quit my private all-girl’s college to take care of the only family I have left.
There’s one way to save our house, one thing I have left of value.
A forbidden auction…
Gabriel appears at every turn. He seems to take pleasure in watching me fall. Other times he’s the only kindness in a brutal underworld.
Except he's playing a deeper game than I know. Every move brings us together, every secret rips us apart. And when the final piece is played, only one of us can be left standing.
THE PAWN is a full-length contemporary novel from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love.
Erotic. Forbidden. Complex.
This is my first Skye Warren book but it won’t be my last. I was instinctively drawn to the premise of this book. It seemed dark and titillating, yes, but it also seemed like so much more just from that little blurb. The premise of the chess interwoven into the story as evidenced by the title, tagline and cover seemed to promise a lot more than just graphic sex and shocking content. I detest books that center too much on the sex and too little on the atmosphere. Our brain is the most prominent sex organ and women are a lot more about the stuff going on in their heads than about any visual stimulus. To me sex for the sake of sex isn’t true eroticism. What makes something erotic is the context, the mindgames. That’s what I’ve always secretly wanted out of a juicy, dark, sexual read. Did I get that in this book? Yes, yes I did. For the most part, this book delivered.
You know all those supposed “dark” books that cross way too many lines to make them true great reads, fail at plotting anything consistent or providing more than repetitive sex scenes that leave you wanting to scrub yourself raw with detergent? And all those books with chess pieces on the cover that don’t seem to really ever be too concerned with the chess itself other than a brief mention? It’s all truly misled me in the past. This is different. The chess is integral to this plot.
The book feels like a chessboard. The writing is as methodical and carefully laid out as a chess game. At first I was afraid that I was going to get a long, boring, plodding book that “tried too hard” to be sexy. But by the time I was done, I was actually quite mindblown by the obvious care the author put into this story. I appreciated the metaphors, the strategy. I was overcome with mad respect for this author’s skill and thoughtfulness.
Is it dark? Well, depends on what you consider dark. I think there’s a lot darker out there. I think most people will be able to read this book without feeling too squeamish. I would say this is erotic with dark undertones to it. But it feels real, meaty… it doesn’t feel like an overblown fantasy. It feels like something you could easily see translated to the big screen. It’s not just some masturbatory writing exercise. It’s a lot more complex than that.
We all know the premise has to do with an auction where our heroine, Avery James, auctions her virginity for one million dollars. There is a lot of background and exposition to explain why she’s driven to do this. I had a little difficulty accepting some of the reasoning, especially considering the social setting she lives in and the person that actually wins said auction. But once I got over my minor qualms and decided to go with it, to suspend disbelief, I found myself enjoying the story a lot more.
So why not 5 stars? Please, don’t let that deter you from picking up this book. The lack of a final star has to do with some issues I had regarding the pacing, specifically for the first half. It did seem just a tad slow and predictable for me. I wish the author could have quickened the lead-up to the action just a bit. I also wish she could have given us a little more interaction between the two protagonists to feel their connection and chemistry somewhat more. Also, the myriad descriptions of the hero’s eye color distracted me a little. They’re continuously referred to as golden, amber, bronze, which was just a bit much sometimes. They’re peppered all over the book.
But all that’s minor. I really liked the story, there was a thrill to it. The sex scenes were hot… scorching, dirty and deliciously erotic. There is a huge theme of virginity here, so if you’re not into that, you may not like it. Experiencing what it’s like for someone like Avery, pure and inexperienced, untainted… to be introduced to such a virile, seductive man was intense.
I will definitely be picking up the sequel in January. Four well-deserved, solid, stars.
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A sense of familiarity fills the space between us even though I know we haven’t met. This man is a stranger, but he looks at me as if he wants to know me. He looks at me as if he already does. There’s an intensity to his eyes when they sweep over my face, as firm and as telling as a touch.
“I need…” A thud against my ribs as I think about all the things I need—a rewind button. One person in the city who doesn’t hate me by name alone. “I need a loan.”
He gives me a slow perusal, from the nervous slide of my tongue along my lips to the high neckline of my dress. I tried to dress professionally—a black cowl-necked sweater and pencil skirt. His strange amber gaze unbuttons my coat, pulls away the expensive cotton, tears off the cotton fabric of my bra and panties. He sees right through me, and I shiver as a ripple of awareness runs over my skin.
I’ve met a million men in my life. Shaken hands. Smiled. I’ve never felt as seen through as I do right now. Never felt like someone has turned me inside out, every dark secret exposed to the harsh light. He sees my weaknesses, and from the cruel set of his mouth, he likes them.
His lids lower. “And what do you have for collateral?”
Nothing except my word. That wouldn’t be worth anything if he knew my name. I swallow past the lump in my throat. “I don’t know.”
He takes a step forward, and suddenly I’m crowded against the brick wall beside the door, his large body blocking out the warm light from inside. He feels like a furnace in front me, the heat of him in sharp contrast to the cold brick at my back. “What’s your name, girl?”
The word girl is a slap in the face. I force myself not to flinch, but it’s hard. Everything about him overwhelms me—his size, his low voice. “I’ll tell Mr. Scott my name.”
In the shadowed space between us, his smile spreads, white and taunting. The pleasure that lights his strange yellow eyes is almost sensual, as if I caressed him. “You’ll have to get past me.”
My heart thuds. He likes that I’m challenging him, and God, that’s even worse. What if I’ve already failed? I’m free-falling, tumbling, turning over without a single hope to anchor me. Where will I go if he turns me away? What will happen to my father?
“Let me go,” I whisper, but my hope fades fast.
His eyes flash with warning. “Little Avery James, all grown up.”
A small gasp resounds in the space between us. He already knows my name. That means he knows who my father is. He knows what he’s done. Denials rush to my throat, pleas for understanding. The hard set of his eyes, the broad strength of his shoulders tells me I won’t find any mercy here.
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