Marriage Games by C.D. Reiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first starting seeing all of the glowing reviews for this book, I was curious. Since reading many mediocre BDSM books in the wake of the success of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’, I have kind of steered clear of that particular trope. With the exception of a few, really dark stories, the BDSM novelty has pretty much worn off for me.
So, when I saw that this book focused largely on that particular topic, I put it on the back burner again. As the stellar reviews from friends kept rolling in, I eventually succumbed to my curiosity and decided to give it a shot. I’m glad that I did. ‘Marriage Games’ ended up being a great story.
Diane has left her husband, Adam. She literally dumped her husband with a “Dear John” letter, left in their loft for him to find. Poor Adam thought that everything was fine in their marriage. She never mentioned any problems or told him that she was unhappy. Man, was he ever wrong.
As the two grapple with the details of their impending divorce, Adam gets back in touch with a side of himself that he had suppressed while he was with Diane…his Dominant side. Adam had lived his life as a Dom before meeting Diane. When he met her, he wanted her so badly that he lived a vanilla existence to keep her, believing that she would be put off by his dominant inclinations.
Fast-forward a few years and Diane is bored to death with her marriage. The loss of a pregnancy and the grief that followed have changed the dynamics of their relationship and made Diane question what she really wants. Adam and Diane are more like roommates than lovers and Diane feels like she is dying a slow death, suffocating in the rote routine of their daily lives together. When she comes to the realization that she isn’t in love with her husband any longer, she decides that it is time for a divorce.
Adam is completely blindsided by Diane’s letter. He adores his wife and is deeply in love with her. He is devastated by her abrupt decision to leave him. When he seeks out the guidance of his good friend and mentor, Charlie, another Dom, he devises a plan to help him get over Diane.
Adam has never believed himself capable of loving a submissive. What drew him to Diane was her strength and resilience. She challenged him and didn’t back down. While he loves the sexual games he plays with his subs, he’s never been able to develop feelings for them, beyond the concern you would have for a friend.
In order to get Diane out of his system, he proposes that she give him 30 days at his private BDSM getaway. If she serves him as his submissive for those 30 days, he will sign over full ownership of their business. Then, Diane will get what she wants and so will Adam.
Diane agrees and so the story begins.
I have to say that I enjoyed this story much more than I had anticipated. Even though I read some fantastic reviews, I was really expecting another over-hyped BDSM story that fit the mold of so many books before it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book stirred genuine emotions and held my interest from start to finish.
As Adam and Diane explored their sexual tastes and boundaries, the growing intimacy was unmistakable. However, the betrayal and hurt that Diane had inflicted with her rash decision was also unavoidable. It seemed like they took one step forward and two back. As Diane grew closer, Adam grew more distant. They couldn’t ever seem to get on the same page where their marriage was concerned.
On top of everything else, Adam’s ex-sub is also on the property. Now subbing for one of the “friends” that co-owns the property with him, she clearly wants Adam back. At every turn, she manipulates the situation to commandeer Adam’s attention away from Diane.
This leads to some very tense and emotionally charged situations. My heart broke for Diane, even as I knew that she was only reaping what she had sowed. Often times, I felt that Adam was intentionally callous in his handling of the situation. It was like he wanted to hurt Diane, which I suppose he did.
All things considered, I thought it was a great story. There are still some things related to the BDSM genre that make me cringe, particularly the degradation and humiliation aspects. However, I did enjoy this story quite a bit.
It ends with a cliffhanger and I wanted to jump right in to the second book. Having listened to the Audible edition of ‘Marriage Games’, I was disappointed to find that the second book, ‘Separation Games’ was not out in Audible format yet. That is something that you may want to keep in mind if you’re considering listening to this series. The narration was great, but I had to switch to the Kindle edition for the second book, which peeved me.
I like to start and finish a series in the same format. That being said, I’m sure if I’d been willing to wait a short while, it would have been released in the audiobook format. I guess it says something about how good this book was that I wasn’t willing to wait to finish the series.
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