Sunday, 22 September 2013

Review: Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters

Tears of Tess, a debut novel by Pepper Winters, is a New Adult Dark Contemporary romance. It has the following disclaimer on the blurb:

"not suitable for people sensitive to grief, slavery, and nonconsensual sex. A story about finding love in the strangest of places, a will of iron that grows from necessity, and forgiveness that may not be enough."

Needless to say, curiosity got the best of me and I signed up to do a review stop for Pepper's Blog Tour.

I'm glad I did.

That disclaimer should NOT be ignored. When they say it's a dark book, they're not kidding. Tess Snow is the title character, twenty years old, in a stable, vanilla relationship, though she secretly craves more in the bedroom. When her boyfriend takes her on holiday, the unthinkable happens. Tess is kidnapped by a human trafficking ring and sold into sex slavery. While I'd like to think that this kind of thing is just a figment of the author's imagination, it's sobering to realize that it does happen. 

Tess finds herself delivered to Q, an uber-rich, Dominant man, who begins to show her just what it means to be owned. Her darkest fantasies are suddenly becoming reality and now she doesn't know what to think.

This book tackles some tough themes: abandonment, rejection, desire, redemption. But the thing that stuck most with me was Tess's struggle to come to terms with her sexual fantasies. She wants to submit, to be forced, controlled. And that scares her, as I think it would many young women just beginning to explore their sexuality. To complicate matters, her boyfriend and only sexual partner is as unkinky as they get. 

I went back and forth right along with Tess. How do you come to terms with desires that many would consider sick and freakish? What I really liked though, is how the author managed to differentiate between fantasy and reality. When Tess is with Q, she is playing a role, even though she doesn't realize it at first. There are two disturbing rape scenes, which are not portrayed in a positive light and I tip my hat to Pepper for that. Role playing non-consensual sex is completely different and though it's hard to read, Tess has to experience it to realize the difference. 

And I'll confess that I totally fell in love with Q. He's everything the tortured hero should be, and we see that he is just as uncomfortable with his desires as Tess, and the vulnerability we see in him makes me want to grab him and save him from himself. 

The BDSM in this book is very edgy, much more so than what I normally read, but it's so well written that it didn't disturb me in the way I thought it might. 

I very highly recommend this book, but please, please, please - take the disclaimer seriously. It is not for the faint-hearted. I can't wait for the sequel, Quintessentially Q!

Want to win a copy of the book? Leave me a comment by midnight EST on September 30, and I'll choose a winner via There's also a tourwide giveaway that you can enter using the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post. 

Tears of Tess
by Pepper Winters

A New Adult Dark Contemporary Romance, not suitable for people sensitive to grief, slavery, and nonconsensual sex. A story about finding love in the strangest of places, a will of iron that grows from necessity, and forgiveness that may not be enough.

"My life was complete. Happy, content, everything neat and perfect.
Then it all changed.
I was sold."

Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility.

For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world. 

But lusty paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can't save her from the horror of being sold.

Can Brax find Tess before she's broken and ruined, or will Tess's new owner change her life forever?

Author Bio:
Writer, reader, sometimes wife. An avid devourer of sexy romance and angsty New Adult. Nothing beats lolling in a bubble bath with her array of book boyfriends, and plotting torturous stories to put her characters through. 

Living Down Under means she writes in the Queen's English, not Obama's, and aims to have an entire catalogue of sexy books that keep you wanting more. Oh, and she may or may not be in love with Q from Tears of Tess.

Author Links

Tears of Tess Blog Tour Giveaway

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