TITLE: The Highest Bid (Naughty Bits, #4)
PUBLISHER: Penquin Group
YEAR: July 2014
LENGTH: 114 pages
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
HEAT LEVEL: Adults only, erotica
RATING: 4 out of 5
REVIEW: If this were any other writer who includes elements of BDSM in their work, this would have received five stars from me, but this is Joey Hill, and I hold her to a higher standard. Her Nature of Desire series sets a high bar for BDSM literature, and it’s only by comparison with her own excellent work that this book, Naughty Bits IV: The Highest Bid, suffers. Joey has a grasp on the finer points of BDSM. Her work is not merely a catalogue of the latest sex toys or a postmodern Kama Sutra with an emphasis on athleticism and flexibility. Joey’s characters are realistically drawn, with clearly defined motives and story arcs that make sense and leave the reader feeling as if they’ve stepped briefly into the lives of real people, sharing in their most intimate moments.
Yes, the theme of this series is unrepentantly erotic. Joey has a rare talent for using eroticism to show us the beating hearts of her characters. It is the window through which we are able to see the inner workings of their relationships, their needs as well as their desires. We are privileged to witness the transformations of their hearts and souls as they learn about each other and come to terms with the demons that have been holding them back from leading fulfilled lives.
The love story that has been told over the course of this series is as profoundly spiritual as it is deeply erotic. Madison and Logan’s romance is like a flower, slowly unfurling as we watch, and in this volume it has reached it’s pinnacle. As I said at the beginning of this review, if this had been any other writer, I could have justified giving it five stars. It’s not just another BDSM novel. But as I write this, I can’t help thinking of Rough Canvas, the sixth book in the Nature of Desire series, which remains the best M/M romance, and one of the best all-around romances I’ve ever read – and I’ve been reading romance for more than thirty years. Rough Canvas is my standard for excellence, and The Highest Bid didn’t quite reach that high. Nonetheless, I highly recommend it to any reader who enjoys books with a strong BDSM theme. It is not for those just dipping their toes into the BDSM pond. Some of the elements of the fantasy that is at the core of this book are likely to be a bit daunting to the novice reader. But if you enjoy Joey’s work in general, you’ll undoubtedly like this series.
I received an ARC in return for an honest review.