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Awakening is the story of Liz Ashton, a New York art gallery owner, who embarks on a relationship with the extraordinarily wealthy Damon St Claire. He introduces her to a hitherto unfamiliar world of BDSM which Liz slowly opens herself up to. She discovers a way of life that gives her something that she has never experienced before.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that Awakening
is extraordinarily similar to Fifty Shades of Grey. I read a lot of BDSM romances so I don’t say that lightly.
The parallels between the two books are constant: Rich businessman Dom, Innocent book smart BDSM newbie, a Housekeeper and a Driver as significant supporting characters, Non-Disclosure Agreements and Contracts (Anal Play is in. Canes are out. Much like Ana and Christian’s contract), rules about the going to the gym three times a week with a personal trainer, Damon insisting on Liz attending a private doctor to sort out contraception, a sub spare room that Liz can decorate any way she chooses, a Dom who tracks his sub’s every move and messages her to let her know that he’s keeping tabs on her … Honestly, this list could go on.
|Liz and Damon. Honest.
In fact there are so many striking similarities that I’m inclined to believe that Zoe Asher’s hasn’t actually read Fifty Shades of Grey herself. If she had, surely she would have avoided writing a book that was almost identical.
Maybe if you start with the premise of a BDSM-themed love story set in the present day between a Billionaire and a BDSM virgin, you could find yourself accidentally rewriting Fifty Shades of Grey without realising it.
If you had done it by accident though, you probably wouldn’t have given your hero the name Damon (with its obvious Demon/Omen connotations) because that’s just begging to be contrasted with the name Christian, isn’t it?
That said, I think The Awakening is actually better written than its bestselling counterpart. There’s none of that tedious Inner Goddess gumph for a start. Liz is less annoying than Ana. You get both sides of the story from the get go.
Although, oddly, given that this is a story about a woman taking a leap of faith and diving into a new lifestyle, most of the time Liz’s new life seems rather boring.
The BDSM stuff is all well and good but for the most part the new lifestyle that Damon imposes on her is stifling. You’d think that wealth and privilege would open up the world but his world is so small that it rarely leaves his excellently appointed apartment. Liz is taken away from the vibrancy and fun of life on the New York streets and is immediately ferried around by her drivers, followed by a bodyguard and holed up in Damon’s home expected to account for her every move outside of it. Damon doesn’t even acknowledge her half the time.
The story finishes on a cliff-hanger with Liz arriving at Damon’s private island for what promises to be a BDSM-intensive getaway. The details of which will be presumably be covered in the subsequent book in what is already being billed as a trilogy.
It’s a well-crafted book with plenty of attention to detail. Zoe Asher is clearly a very good writer. I just found the relentless similarities to Fifty Shades of Grey and the stuffiness of the main characters’ arrangement a bit off-putting.
I would happily read more of Zoe Asher’s work but will probably steer clear of the rest of this series. Hopefully
next time it will be something a bit more fun which doesn’t read like a re-tread of somebody else’s book.