Berkley / February 4, 2014 / $16.00 print, $9.99 digital
Josslyn found perfection once, and she knows she’ll never find it again. Now widowed, she seeks the one thing her beloved husband couldn’t give her: dominance. Lonely, searching for an outlet for her grief and wanting only a brief taste of the perfection she once enjoyed, she seeks what she’s looking for at an exclusive club that caters to people indulging in their most hedonistic fantasies. She never imagined that what she’d find would be the one man who’s long been a source of comfort—and secret longing. Her husband’s best friend.
Dash has lived in an untenable position for years: in love with his best friend’s wife but unwilling to act on that attraction. He’d never betray his best friend. And so he’s waited in the wings, offering Joss unconditional support and comfort as she works past her grief, hoping for the day when he can offer her more.
When he finds her in a club devoted to the darker edges of desire, he’s furious because he thinks she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Until she explains in detail what it is she wants. What she needs. As realization sets in, he is gripped by fierce, unwavering determination. If she wants dominance, he is the only man who will introduce her to that world. He is the only man who will touch her, cherish her…love her. And the only man she’ll ever submit to.
For Maya Banks’s newest trilogy, Surrender, she has quite appropriately named the first in the series Letting Go. This book is about letting go of a life that is over and making the decision to move on to a new, uncharted future.
It is on the third anniversary of the death of Josslyn Breckenridge’s husband that Josslyn finally comes to terms with the simple fact that her husband has passed and with his death is gone the future that they had planned. It seems like a simple concept to grasp, but Josslyn has been living in a bubble of grief these last few years. She has leaned on her friends and her husband’s best friend and partner, Dash, and has been allowed to wallow for far too long. Joss now realizes that she has to be brave and create a new life for herself.
“You gave me confidence and independence to fly. I want that back again, Carson. You taught me so much. You gave me the world. The problem is when you left, you took my world with you. And I want it back again. I want to live and not be this hollow shell of myself that I’ve been since you died.”
She sucked in a steadying breath, knowing what she said next was dumb. But she had to get it off her chest. Say it and then let go of the nagging emotion.
“I also want to tell you that I forgive you. I know that sounds so stupid. You don’t need my forgiveness. But I was so angry with you for so long for leaving me. I was so selfish. I’ve spent three years being angry and resentful, and starting today, I’m not going to be that person anymore.”
The first thing she needs to do is to free Dash from her constant dependence on him. Josslyn realizes that she calls Dash to assist her on every problem or simply to cry on his shoulder whenever the grief wells up. She is certain he has had enough of being the crutch for his dead friend’s wife. Josslyn isn’t even sure if Dash has had a girlfriend since her husband died since who would put up with a man having to drop everything to run to his friend’s grieving widow whenever she calls. In letting go of Carson, she will also let Dash go on and live his own life.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come over after you have lunch with the girls?”
She shook her head. “No. It’s not necessary, Dash. You’ve babysat me for long enough. It’s time for me to stand on my own two feet. I’m sure it has to come as a relief to you that you don’t have to hover over me for fear I’ll lose it. I’m just sorry I’ve been such a burden to you for so long.”
This time a glint of anger flashed in those dark eyes. “You’re not a burden, damn it. Carson was my best friend, Joss. He—and you—mean a hell of a lot to me.”
“And I appreciate that. I appreciate all you’ve done for me. But it’s time Dash. I have to do this. He’s gone and I have to accept that.”
Carson gave Josslyn everything she had ever wanted. He provided her with a beautiful home and there should have been time for them to fill it with a family of their own. While he was alive, he adjusted his work schedule so that he and Josslyn had as much time as possible together. But there was one thing Carson couldn’t give to Josslyn. Joss wanted to experiment in dominance. Carson and his sister, Kylie, grew up in an abusive home and Carson equated that lifestyle with his abusive father.
Josslyn doesn’t ever expect to have a love like she shared with Carson, and now that Josslyn is taking the first step into a new future, she wants to experiment in the one thing that was missing from her relationship with Carson.
“You both know I loved Carson with all my heart. He gave me everything. But I’ve always had this …need. Craving. Desire. I don’t know what to call it. But I’ve always craved…dominance. And everything that goes with it. And it’s the one thing I knew Carson couldn’t, wouldn’t give me. I loved him too much to ever demand it of him. We spoke of it once. Early in our relationship. Before I knew about his childhood. He was always so afraid he’d turn out like his father. The idea of doing anything that might hurt me or that may be construed as abuse appalled him. And I think in the beginning he feared losing me because he couldn’t provide me with that kind of relationship.”
She has found a private club called The House which caters to people looking for a dominant/submissive relationship. What she didn’t realize when she walked in the front door was that she would also find Dash standing across the room from her. As a long-time member of The House, Dash was very versed in the lifestyle and he will not allow Josslyn to go home with anyone but him.
“I’ve waited a long damn time for you, Joss. I thought I’d never have you, and I was okay with that because you made Carson happy and I know Carson made you happy. But as you said, he’s gone now, and I’ve waited. For what seems like an eternity I’ve waited for the right moment. For when you were ready. Maybe I waited too long, or perhaps now is the perfect time. But if you think I’m going to stand by and allow another man to touch what I consider mine, you’re very mistaken.”
As Josslyn begins letting go of her past life with Carson, can she risk a future with Dash? Without Carson, Dash has become important to the structure of Josslyn’s life. Becoming lovers will rip apart their friendship. Would Josslyn be able to start again if she now lost Dash too?
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Letting Go by Maya Banks, available February 4, 2014:
Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.