A little while back, my Twitter feed was eat up with mentions of a new book, HAVEN. So, I did what any responsible book blogger would do, I got myself to NetGalley and grabbed it so I could share my thoughts with you. It was an easy decision, I’ve had Rebekah Weatherspoon on my list to read for a while now, and lucky me, I get to start with a series called Beards and Bondage! Let me just say, HAVEN hits the ground running, literally.
Claudia Cade is out for a mountain hike with her brother Miles when all hell breaks loose. Now, she’s running for her life and straight into the arms…I mean cabin, of our hero, Shepard Olsen. He saves her life but at a cost to his soul. These two quickly bond over some serious PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Both are now alone in the world except for some friends they’ve made family. Claudia is a strong heroine and her devastation and grief are beyond palpable. Weatherspoon does a great job getting us into Claudia’s head, and let me tell you, it is a sad, broken place. She also has a mouth on her and the sass is strong in this one. I think this attitude she has is part defense mechanism and part inherent. She really is a very likable heroine you will find yourself rooting for throughout the entire book.
Shepard “Shep” Olsen is an introvert. At first glance, you’d call him a grumpy, PMB, slightly crazy loner that lives in a cabin up the mountain, cut off from civilization. Once you get to know him, you realize he’s definitely a grumpy PMB loner but he’s far from crazy and definitely not some recluse to be feared by the townsfolks. He’s a good man, who had his heart broken. He gave love its one shot and it bit him in the ass so you don’t have to tell him twice, he will keep his heart to himself from now on and find his sexual release far away from prying eyes. Shep is a bit of a contradiction in terms, he’s definitely a mountain man, all 6’6″ of his sexy, bearded form but he’s also an introverted Dom, that doesn’t whittle. Saving Claudia was the instinctual, right thing to do but anytime you take a person’s life, even a really terrible person, it leaves a mark on your soul – at least if you are full of goodness in your soul like Shep is. It shouldn’t be easy and Weatherspoon goes a long way to show you exactly how difficult taking a person’s life is.
That brings us to the physical connection between Claudia and Shep. Nothing happens in the beginning, but the bond is formed. There could be some hero worship on her end and some savior glory on his end but an appropriate amount of time passes before we get to the sexy times. While both struggle emotionally with their shared trauma and with how quickly their bonds form, the sex they have soothes them but doesn’t fix their problems. It’s safe to say they both find a safe haven in each other but there is no magic peen or vag shit happening. Try as they might to fuck it out, until they resolve their own problems, the past will forever haunt them. And for the record, Weatherspoon writes some amazingly hot sex, lordy. Dirty in all the good ways. It’s sexy and smart and the BDSM scenes we get are explained perfectly both in physical form and emotional reaction.
If I were to give you a constructive criticism of the book, I’d say at times, the writing is a bit choppy and falls into the telling not showing category. That can pull you out of a story more than once but Weatherspoon recovers quickly after those choppy times. In fact, if the bigger story were not so compelling and unique and honest, I probably would’ve taken more “stars” off. My other issue would be with how quickly the ending wraps up – it’s rushed. For a book that goes to great lengths to get you inside the main characters’ heads, the ending gives you a time jump that skips right over the final trauma therapy processing (again, telling not showing), not that you’d ever fully get over what happens to Claudia or Shep, but still I would’ve appreciated more details here. And speaking of the trauma, can I just give a huge shout out to Weatherspoon for not going the rape shock and awe route with the big bad in this book? It’s refreshing to see an author avoid the easy plot trick in lieu of something equally horrible but less gratuitous. However, that time jump still feels a bit like an emotional cock block. Gimme more! I’m very curious to see where the next book takes us, most of Shep’s friends are old mountain guys not up for the beards and bondage role so book 2’s main characters are a welcome unknown for me. Guess I’ll just have to wait until Twitter explodes again!
Smooches,Tags: 4 stars, BDSM, diverse characters, first in a series, PMB, POC, scandal, strong heroine