Title: Crossing the Lines
Series: Neighborly Affection #2
Author: M.Q. Barber
Genre: BDSM, contemporary
Stand Alone: no, must be read in order
Re-issued /Re-edited: no
Date published: March 3, 2014
Published by: Lyrical Press
Word count: 84,000
Page count: 221
M.Q. Barber likes to get lost in thought. She writes things down so she can find herself again.
Often found staring off into space or frantically scratching words on post-it notes, M.Q. lives with one very tolerant, easily amused husband and one very tolerant, easily amused puppy.
She has a soft spot for romances that explore the inner workings of the heart and mind alongside all that steamy physical exertion. She loves memorable characters, witty banter, and heartfelt emotion in any genre.
A safeword won’t save her from love.
After six months of cavorting in her neighbors’ bed, Alice admits signing the contract to be Henry’s sexual submissive is the best decision she’s ever made. He delivers on his promise to give her sexual satisfaction. But submitting to his dominance alongside his long-term lover shows her the sharp line between sex and love. Henry loves goofy, eager-to-please Jay. Neither man has promised to love her.
Hiding her feelings grows harder every night she spends with them. As they struggle with wounds old and new, her emotional turmoil threatens to shred their arrangement. Is it time to bow out before they show her the door? Or can a triangle be the shape of true love?
CONTENT WARNING: Explicit sex, graphic language, BDSM, bondage, spanking, M/M/F ménage, M/F sex, M/M sex
Sometimes, I come across a story that become an obsession, that I enjoy so much that I just do not want it to end.
Neighborly Affection series is one of them. I purposely says series because Crossing the Lines is book #2 of Neighborly Affection series and it must be read in order, after Playing the Game.
I am trying to sort it out my emotions right now because I just finished reading the last line and I am still in awe. I was with Playing the Game but Crossing the Lines made the story way more powerful since it is the continuity of the story. I have also no doubt that Neighborly Affection 3, Healing the Wounds, which will be released around july 2014 will be as much incredible. And it makes totally sense. Book 1 is Meet & Date, Book 2 is Date & Love and Book 3 should be Love & Collared in my opinion.
In the first book, we met Henry, Jay and Alice. We could say that it is Alice’s story since it is written from the heroine’s perspective only. I already mentioned it, I generally have a hard time to fall for the males characters if I do not read their POV. However, I truly believe that the story would have not been that powerful if I read Henry and Jay’s POV. Not saying it would have diminished the emotions I felt, but I would have certainly not been so enthralled by the heroine, Alice.
I am not sure if I can dare to say that I completely related to the heroine and understood her so well that it was pretty scary. Her insecurities were totally mine. I swallowed them. I assimilated them. They were just mine. M.Q. Barber described her as a woman who think too much, who is afraid of rejection, who analyze every details, who refuse to admit she can love or be loved. Alice’s character has so many emotional issues that only the patience of a man could remove all the layers that blinded her.
This is an incredible D/s story but not much physical although I did find some very hot sex scenes. It was more about connection, about knowledge of self, about patience and understanding.
In most romances I read, BDSM or not, I always complain about timeline. Authors seem to have major issue with that. Everything must happen within days if not hours. I am always shaking my head when I notice that because it breaks the connection I may have with the characters. Somehow, when I read a romance, I know of course it is not reality but I wish it could be. I know it is not, but if feels good to read so much love and hot sex and passion. But something breaks the line if the author force me to believe that the character fall for each other right after some good sex. I know many women do in real life if a man give them a good orgasm and they confuse sex with love. That is very common unfortunately… which is sad truly because in a way it means that not many men care much to satisfy the women when they sleep with them and they confuse caring with loving.
Anyway. This story is all about a journey: six months with Playing the Game and almost the same with Crossing the Lines. It makes sense. Because the time was credible, I could understand the ups and downs, the evolution, the changes, the doubts and finally the acknowledgment of her feelings, of everyone’s feelings.
The genre is a mild BDSM. It is all about a D/s relationship or relationships, plural. That is exactly how a newbie would learn and grow in the lifestyle. Sex is only a tiny part of it. It is first a mental, then emotional and then physical. But then all three are mixed in between and misplaced until they find their right place again. But it takes generally a lot of time to know what we want. In real life, it takes years not even month for a Dom to know his sub’s needs and for the sub to know his/her own needs. Failure is common and part of the journey of everyone’s involved.
Henry, in my eyes, is the perfect Dom. Patient and always in the learning mode in order to make the best decisions for his subs. That’s how Doms should be portrayed. Reality is again different but in romances that is exactly how I want them to be. Not caveman. Not crude. Not selfish. Not using the women as their sex toy. Not falling for the heroine within minutes like teens. Henry is not perfect and that is also something that I appreciated. He proved in Crossing the Lines that he is also a man and errors are inevitable with D/s relationships.
M.Q. Barber totally mastered romance and lifestyle. Not a single moment, I doubted that she knows what she is talking about. It does not matter if she lives or not the lifestyle, I know she visited a BDSM club because her description totally fit the one I visited myself, probably not that big, but the description was totally accurate. And what else can I ask when reading a D/s romance? Credibility, Honesty, Respect, no more no less.
Now lets talk about Jay. Jay is also a sub but another kind of sub and that is why this story is so much more emotional. All three characters have their distinct personality, extremely different but totally fit together. Jay is a happy puppy, always on the move, always happy, always happy to give. He is the kind of person that it is impossible to not love but without boundaries can be very tiring to live with. But once he has the right boundaries, he can be the light of your day. But Jay is more than that. He had his own struggles. Henry gives him the discipline and structure and love he craves and Alice gives him the playfulness and sweetness that is essence. In Crossing the Lines, Jay thought us a lesson: communication is just key.
And this is why I am hoping that I will read a book #3 of this series. I know a novella is planned but from my perspective, and not only because I am now a fan, the story does not end with book #2. If Playing with Game ended HFN (Happy for Now) and Crossing the Lines ends with a HEA (Happy ever After), the after needs to be explored. It ends with love but also with new insecurities and challenges: how will they all live together, how the past will not destroy the present and the future. All three characters have still much to say and share and learn. Like every relationship, it takes time to make it work and I am not convinced that they all reached this position yet. And I have a feeling that Healing the Wounds (released June 2014) will answer all those questions. And talking with the author, M.Q. Barber, she confirmed that it will probably not end with book #2 as the relationship between our three heroes will evolve. YAY!
I honestly believe that this story goes further than a romance and many women will question themselves about their own needs and sexuality. Being a submissive is not something we discover in books but if a story can make someone think and decide to “cross the lines”, it is important to open the door correctly. A lot of romances I read portray the Doms like white knights and prince charming. Sorry, not my cup of tea. I get it that some women love them that way and have no intention to enter the lifestyle. But for someone like me who know a little bit in real life, I am looking for this kind of D/s story. I want to read some truth in it mixed with the romance.
And this is exactly what you will get with Neighborly Affection series. I can promise you, if you are genuinely curious about the lifestyle, no matter if you are experienced or a newbie… you WILL love this story!.
Characters: ~ Plot: ~ Sex Heat: ~ Romance:
Equality: ~ Credibility: ~ Originality: ~ Cover: