Double Six (Rowan House #5) – Brenda Murphy

If she had her way (like she’s used to), Elaine MacLeod wouldn’t be the one interviewing the woman applying to become Rowan House’s new Mistress. She doesn’t even really want to hire anyone. But it’s not like she can get out of it, and Petra Grendhal turns out to be rather different from what she expected, and not only because her name doesn’t quite fit her appearance.

Most of all, Elaine hadn’t planned on being attracted to her nor on fighting for dominance, especially not when she’s already trying to come to terms both with the aftermath of Roxy’s departure and her feelings for Robin. When Robin volunteers to sub for Petra for the audition, Elaine has no other choice but to admit that she cares a lot more for Robin than she lets on, and is definitely not ready to let her go. Faced with Robin’s love for her and her attraction to Petra as well as her own attraction to (and maybe love for) both of them, Elaine is not as much in control as she’d like to believe.

This is the fifth book in the Rowan House series and the second one I read (my first was Complex Dimensions). It can be read as a standalone, though if I had had the time, I would have begun at the beginning of the series. I’m glad I had read at least one of the previous novels first.

A poly erotic romance, Double Six is much heavier on BDSM and power play than I’m used to. It’s also extremely well written, impressively so. I need to read more of Brenda Murphy’s books, but from what I’ve seen in the two I’ve read so far, she can be counted on to create compelling atmospheres and fantastic characters. Elaine, Robin and Petra are multi-layered, complex and believable. The story is told from Elaine’s POV, with some of her inner dialogue, so we know more about her motivations and thoughts than the others’. I sometimes wished I could be in Robin’s head or, more frequently, Petra’s, but I enjoyed being surprised by them, which couldn’t have happened the same way if I’d been privy to their thoughts.

It stands to reason that in a place like Rowan House, chemistry would be the foundation on which most, if not all, relationships are built, so of course the chemistry between the three women is out of this world. I’m also a bit impressed by their stamina, I have to admit… Regardless, if you’re into intricate, detailed, and above all steamy sex scenes, you’re in for a real treat. Seriously. However, what I love most is that the story is not an excuse for all the sex (which can be good too, don’t get me wrong), there’s a real convincing plot too. All three characters are full of surprises, but Elaine is probably the one whose growth is the most obvious by the end of the story. She’s the perfect ice queen, haughty and imperious, which goes well with her Mistress persona. She’s also scared of rejection, terrified Robin might decide to leave her once she’s free to go (I’m trying not to spoil here, read the book), not used to trusting anyone, let alone her own feelings. Between Robin and Petra, she’ll learn a lot about trust, communication (she’s good at it in sex play, not so much when it comes to matters of the heart), letting go. This novel is the proof that a story can be both extremely hot and absolutely lovely.

4-stars

Double Six @ NineStar Press

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