Seared by Suleikha Snyder. 2017.
I really liked the heroine in this story a lot. She’s complex and compelling, she knows what she wants and goes after it, she’s got a tremendous amount of strength and a lovely vulnerability. She is badass and awesome and deserves someone who would step up for her and be brave and match her vulnerability and honesty.
I wasn’t sure that the hero deserved her. Her feelings for him, her trust in him, didn’t feel earned in the context of the story. The thing I liked best about him was that her awesome mom thought he was good for her. But I honestly wasn’t sure I agreed. I felt like I was told about their being fated and right for each other, but I didn’t get to see that in action, really.
Perhaps because of that, for me, this story was more effective as erotica than it was as romance. It’s very much a stepbrother fantasy kink. In the present, you will find D/s, pain play, fisting, orgasm control, a range of sex acts, all deeply consensual between adults. In references to the past, when he was the older stepbrother and she was a teenager, it teases at dubcon elements (like grooming) without going full-on there, in a way that feels like it’s mostly about evoking the this is forbidden but we can’t help ourselves kind of stuff. It also plays with the chef as dominant thing, and is the first story I’ve read that does that. I liked that element a lot.
Seared brings the heat, and the UST, and makes a clear consistent effort to show the heroines consent to, desire for and pursuit of the kink that occurs. I really enjoyed that about it.
The descriptions of fisting did not fit my experience of it, but it’s rare that I find erotica that describes fisting in ways that resonate for me. Early in the story, the diversity of sex acts was something I really appreciated about the erotic scenes in the book. So I was caught off guard by the later quite marked framing of PIV as the ultimate and most real and most intimate sex act.
The heroine references being into bottoming to folks who are a range of genders, and only wanting sex with men. I really appreciated the way it differentiated between attraction for sex vs attraction for kink, something I would love to see more stories do, as it resonates both with my own experience and with what I see in kink communities. I hesitate to call the heroine bisexual or pansexual, as it’s about kink, not sexual attraction, and we don’t really have current shorthand for kink-focused attraction.
The story has a lot of lovely humor. I especially appreciated the jokes about chef rivalries, the soap opera references, the food jokes, and the jokes about 90s music. I enjoyed the way the book felt a bit cheeky and like it was winking at me, while also being unabashedly cheesy in other moments, and full of angst at yet other moments. That more than anything (except perhaps the way it embraced the forbidden aspect) made it feel like a soap opera, which added an enjoyable element to my reading experience. When it ends, it feels like there is more to come, while still feeling like this arc is resolved. Which also feels a bit like a soap opera, now that I think of it!
- Indian heroine
- Indian woman secondary character
- Queer desi woman author
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Multiple references to intimate partner violence, controlling abusive parent, and especially child emotional abuse in the past.
Step brother kink, D/s, pain play, brat play, fisting, sex on the page. Attraction began when heroine was a teenager and hero was an adult, and there are grooming elements to the relationship from that time period.
- Source of the book: A copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
- I am friends with the author on Twitter.
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