Review: The Greatest Risk by Kristen Ashley

Reviewed by Sara

The Greatest Risk is book three in Kristen Ashley’s erotic BDSM Romance series. The books center around a Phoenix, AZ sex club, The Bee’s Honey and the members within. I really enjoyed books one and two and was excited when book 3 released.

It follows characters Sixx (real name: Simone) and Stellan as they grapple with dark pasts on the way to love and happiness. Sixx is a private investigator that has no problem living dangerously and skirting the law. She’s the premiere Domme at The Honey, but due to a traumatic childhood she believes she’s unworthy and holds everyone, friends, lovers and Subs, at arm’s length. Sixx has desperately wanted Stellan since she first laid eyes on him, but because of her sense of unworthiness and his preference as a Dom, she refuses to go there, even if he is the thing most likely to make her happy. Stellan has also had an awful childhood too, but for whatever reason he’s risen above it to become a successful and endearingly arrogant businessman and Dom. He’s wanted Sixx as his for ages and has grown tired of waiting. Stellan pulls out all the stops to convince Sixx that they’d be perfect together, but it’s a fight against the ghosts of Sixx’s past.

Everything I’ve learned about BDSM has come from Romance and Erotica. So, while I don’t understand the nuances of the Lifestyle, I can tell when an author is just phoning it in and when some effort, research and/or real life experience has gone into getting the details just right. Kristen Ashley’s Honey series is really good about coming at BDSM from what appears (at least to me) to be an educated position. While there were times I wondered about a character’s elastic-like flexibility or whether the laws of physics actually allowed for certain positions, the way Kristen Ashley uses BDSM, specifically the elements of dominance and submission, to further the story was beautiful. For example, Sixx who has always felt under the thumb of her past, getting to a place where she could call Stellan “Master” is less about sexual play than her learning to trust and that she is cared for in all areas. While for Stellan, who has had to be dominant in all areas to survive and succeed, being with Sixx is a lesson that immediate submission isn’t always possible, that sometimes patience and perseverance are what’s called for.

One of the things I like about Kristen Ashley is the detail she puts into her characters. She continues this tradition with Sixx, Stellan and the other characters of The Greatest Risk. From clothes to past times, occupations to mannerisms, every element of the character is fleshed out until I feel like this is someone that, should I ever find myself in Phoenix, I could actually run into on the street. I particularly loved the side character of Susan, Stellan’s plucky (and pregnant) receptionist and friend. She is funny, smart and fiercely loyal to Stellan. She also gives his character, who can seem harsh, a softer edge. I would buy a book about Susan in a minute.

Although I really enjoyed The Greatest Risk, it wasn’t my favorite of the series. For me, there were a couple of moments that I felt the flow of the plot lagged. In particular, I found Sixx’s stake-out of The Bolt, Phoenix’s seedier fictional sex club, to be almost boring. The scenes, that included new characters Diesel, Maddox and Molly, were sexy, but felt super drawn out and repetitive.

Aside from some issues I had with plotting and the story’s flow, The Greatest Risk, was no risk at all. A fantastic use of BDSM elements to show character growth and further the story, as well as excellent and detailed characters made this contribution to Kristen Ashley’s Honey series a great read.

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Greatest Risk
by Kristen Ashley
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

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