Roar of Thunder is what I’d describe as a Switch Romance- a story where both characters are competing to dominate the other. From my personal perspective I like a little competition in my dynamic and I don’t mind the idea of mutual thwacking. Switches are also extremely under-served.
And goodness, is this couple fighty and switchy. I emphasize this is a romance novel because the couple, Grace and Ty, do stuff that only makes sense in the weird rules of the genre- for example in the book, shoving someone and shouting “get out!” sans context of consent being simply high drama, not reason to call everything all off and see therapists. Grace and Ty roll around together on the pages like a pair of razor clawed roosters in a cock fighting ring, each trying to take big bloody slashes out of the other. That is, when you don’t have heavy dose of romance novel derp- where the hero inevitably has to talk to his best guy buddy because he doesn’t know how to talk to women, while his sister in playing cupid with the female lead.
But if you’re like me, and you like things turgid and non-con, as well as liking a comforting HEA, the formulaic structure works well with the contents, providing reassuring grounding to something that otherwise shoots my eyebrows up to my hairline as far as unsafe behaviour, while the foofy aspect is balanced by the nasty to avoid being unreadable. This is not a SSC book, indeed its barely RACK, even if it does use the setting of a BDSM club, with all the vocabulary and expectations that go with it. If you don’t like inappropriately pushy people, this is not for you. If, like me, negotiating the boundaries of it being acceptable for your sub to take a swing at you seems like it could lead to sexy results, you might actually have fun.
Now, about the story: Ty, the hero, is your bog standard ex soldier with a troubled mind waiting around to be soothed. Our heroine, Grace, had started as a sub, had a horrifically abusive relationship and couldn’t handle subbing, but her internal monologue makes it unclear if, indeed she’s suffering from “haven’t met the right man yet” syndrome. Grace, and all the various people in Ty’s life, get the idea that what Ty really needs is a dominant to cure his erectile dysfunction and deep seated PTSD problems. I was bracing myself for Grace doing the tumble into submission that so many romance novel heroines do, but I was pleasantly rewarded that all her dominance was most definitely not just for show. Its part of a “Red Mask” series, but you really don’t need the other books to know what’s going on.
You probably aren’t reading this for the plot though, so regarding the sex: When Gia Dawn found out I was doing a review, claimed to lack experience with the real thing (maybe she meant as a dom?). Honestly, it doesn’t show. She likes her butt stuff on the side of chaff-y and painful, but the beating and bondage are erotically constructed into something fun and ouchy. Grace is a caretaker, and her scene control is fun to observe. One thing I wish the author had explored more- Grace was an abuse survivor and decided that subbing didn’t make her feel safe. Ty in no way acted safe, leaping in with full bore jealous/controlling tantrums- I wasn’t sure if enough weight was put into her transition to acknowledge why Ty made her feel comfortable.
Still, about the only critical point I might make is a few “WTF” moments- the characters are supposed to be French, and Ty is mentioned as being ex French Foreign Legion. I think the author meant to place him in the Commandement des Opérations Spéciales (French Special Forces), the Legion not being for wealthy natives of France, but exclusively for non-natives. As a person living in French speaking Canada the French injections into both character’s dialogue felt a bit forced- but honestly, its not her fault her fetish sultry French stereotype fell flat with me- us quasi bilingual readers are not heavy on the ground.
All in all, a solid bit of erotica, whose best quality is the sex. And, if something fairly mainstream friendly makes femdom look hot as she managed, I only hope Gia Dawn writes more.
Category: Erotic romance
Rating: o~o~o~o (4/5)
How I got it: Bought it!
TL;DR: Switches Ty and Grace try to get over their issues by her dominating him.