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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I can still remember the first time I met Jayden and Catherine, and it thrills me to this day. As a result, I allowed myself a little quiet time before starting this book, to remind myself of not just the journey the characters had already been on, but the journey I had been on as a result of reading these books. You see, Ms Hargrave was the one to introduce me to BDSM and the thrills you could get from reading a book of this nature. Before that very first time (just about 18 months ago) when I picked up the first installment, I never would have dreamed I'd be as hooked on Jayden and Erin's story as I am today. And so, without further ado, I'm going to tell you why Surreal was my best read of 2014, and why I seriously doubt it will ever move from my top 5 books. Ever.
One thing I adored about this book (and there were plenty, so bear with me if I get my ordinals in a tizz), was how beautifully it continued on from the rest of the series. As someone who had read the first two books, I knew what was going on, but that doesn't mean I didn't appreciate the little recap to bring me back up to speed. This was perfectly pitched - someone like me had just enough to open the floodgates and rekindle the love, but a new reader would have ample to keep them going through the book (although if that were me, I'd have gone back to the beginning right there).
The character development through this novel was another piece of exemplary writing. Jayden and Erin both faced very different and unique challenges to what they had in the previous novels, and to watch them work through these together made for brilliant reading. They've both reached a new stage in their lives where perspectives change, their wants and needs as individuals and couples are different, but still Hargrave writes them with a realism and beauty that surpasses most other authors out there.
Well, let's get to the point of it - the sex. Wow. Oh my. Jaydenisoneseriouslyhotpieceofass. Oh, my bad, no spaces? But seriously. Oh. My. Goodness. Quite simply, the sex is phenomenal. The stuff these two get up to is inspirational, honestly. If I had a guy half as good as Jayden (or maybe if I even had a guy....) I'd be reading this as a couple and reenacting certain parts! It's so well written, pacy, detailed and above all exciting. I wanted to be Erin, I wanted Jayden to be my Master and above all, I wanted this to all be real because that's how it felt. At times I have to admit that I reached for cold water and a fan, it was that hot, but it's all safe, consensual, within their own limits. That's something that not all authors take the care to convey, but Hargrave clearly shows a responsibility to her readers - she knows that some will want to go out and try this stuff, so she gives them the signs and tips to make sure that they don't hurt themselves. I have learned more about sex and safe practice through her books than any sex ed class at school - fact.
Something else I loved about this book was that Hargrave left those odd few spaces which allow the reader to have their own questions. You want to keep reading, but you can hear your cogs ticking as you are thinking over that last scene or plot twist. And when you've put the book down, it leaves you thinking even more, it literally consumes so many moments in thought that you could live in this world. That's a super positive for me as I like a book to suck me in, hold me captive in the world created by the author, and Hargrave does this so much better in Surreal than all of her other works combined. Of course, the only downside to this is the book hangover - and be prepared cause it's a doozie (I lost nearly a week mooning over Jayden). You truly didn't expect, or want, the book to finish. Even now, much later on, I'm still wanting (and hoping) for more of Jayden and Erin because I adore them so much.
But for all my mooning and love of the sex scenes, it was actually some of the most vanilla parts of the book that were my favourite. Ms Hargrave is without a doubt one of the best and most skilled authors I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Certain scenes (and I shan't spoil here) were utterly mind blowing, taking my breath away and flooring me with their brilliance. Hargrave truly is a master of her craft.
And so, sadly, just like the trilogy all things must end, but boy did this end on a high. Surreal is, by far, the crowing glory of this trilogy and Hargrave should be immensely proud of what she has created. I recommended these books to all I met, but I do so with an added vigour after reading Surreal. Thankyou for this book, this series, for opening my eyes.
But above all, thankyou for writing and for letting me have this experience. It's been divine, sublime, surreal from start to finish.
*This book was first reviewed on Lily Loves Indie as part of a blog tour, for which an ARC was received in return for an honest review*