Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Full Ride by Gail Faulkner - SPOILERS
I read Full Ride by Gail Faulkner nearly two weeks ago. Upon reading the last page, I promptly sent her an email. It read like this:
I'll need to let it all sink down to my bones before I can do it justice with a public reader review.
Bleep bleep Gail.
Jennifer B, needs to rest now
Then I left her hanging; with no response for a week. Can you say RUDE?
So, before I start, my apologies again Gail.
As for Full Ride, it was not at all what I expected. Having read SlipKnot, the second in this series, I assumed the storyline would follow a special ops scenario with an agent hero protecting a heroine in either a victim role or perhaps the role of perpetrator. I enjoyed this theme in SlipKnot and assumed its precursor was a similar tale featuring one of Rem’s teammates.
In addition to that expectation, I should also note that I did not categorize Full Ride as BDSM. Of course I never looked it up either. I just gathered bits of information about it via the Ellora’s Cave reader / author loop. Earlier this month, when readers began discussing their favorite BDSM reads, I was surprised to see Full Ride listed in the collective recommendations. I had it on my TBR list, so I read it.
BDSM. Yep. Portrayed for what it is. Right from the start. My eyes were bulging by page two. I’m a reluctant fan of BDSM. A fan because I do find domination intensely erotic. Reluctant because I so rarely find a book that places its characters in such intimate and vulnerable scenes with grace and believability. Faulkner accomplishes this quite cleverly in Full Ride. In large part because she starts the story by inviting readers to witness a night of BDSM contracted and carried out by two strangers. It was not difficult to accept their behavior, and for me, that is more than half the battle.
The story of a relationship. Instead of drawing readers into a tale of special ops intrigue, Faulkner gives us a black ops hero, back stateside and trying to move forward with his life. Full Ride is the story of how this hero, Gray, connects with the heroine, Prin. And where that connection takes them. Watching it unfold, the reader is privy only to those emotions and insecurities each character is able to reveal. Faulkner keeps this emotional focus, engaging the reader without cluttering the tale with mystery or other typical special ops plot devices.
The connection. My biggest criticism of erotic romance is that it so often fails to bring two characters—who engage in scorching sex—together emotionally. I am so rarely convinced of any real emotional or spiritual connection—a connection that is an absolute must if we are to believe the physical relationship. In Full Ride, Faulkner employs a wonderful and surprising medium to establish the first thread of communication between Gray and Prin. I loved it. I was enchanted and eagerly made the leap to believing it. I was equally impressed by Faulkner’s refusal to bank the emotional relationship on this exchange alone. Instead, she made these two work to reach each other; to give of themselves willingly to each other.
The threat. Like I said. Faulkner does not employ any plot devices one would expect in a story featuring a special ops hero. She does, however, deliver a very human, very emotional threat to the couple’s happiness and future. One I only began to suspect near the story’s end. Again, bucking stereotypes and tired storylines, Faulkner introduces and dispatches of the threat without offending the readers’ intelligence. She uses this twist only to cement what is a fragile hold on happiness—drawing readers deeper into the magic of Gray and Prin’s bond.
I liked every surprise, every facet of Full Ride. I thought it clever, unique—even mystical. I also found it further evidence that readers can count on Gail Faulkner to touch them—the highest praise I can offer.
Thank you Gail.