Shut Out (Black Jack Gentlemen #3)
by Liz Crowe
A submissive once, a submissive forever?
A man on the run from the only life he’s ever known, Brody Vaughn is poised to accept the Black Jack Gentleman’s newly vacant goalkeeper’s position. It’s a desperate move, but one he must take to regain his emotional equilibrium. Reeling from his Mistress’s rejection and on the ragged edge of a total breakdown, he arrives in Detroit. Numb with thinly veiled grief, he walks into the club’s front office completely unaware that an encounter with true destiny awaits him.
Sophie Harrison has seen it all–as Domme, sub, and victim. Now that her complicated circumstances have landed her as legal counsel for the expansion Black Jacks team, she holds herself aloof in body and spirit. Nothing and no one gets past her fiercely guarded walls. Until the day she looks up to greet the new goalie standing in her doorway, his raw combination of vulnerability and strength making her breathless.
Two people, horribly scarred by the excesses of the BDSM lifestyle and hiding from their true selves, meet across a desk over a simple contract. All bets are off.
“He touched a fingertip to her nose, and then walked to the elevator, leaving her to stew, steam, worry, fret, and freak out all in the space of about ten seconds.”
“With this incredible man – a near perfect combination of strong and weak, of commanding and vulnerable, with a mature self-awareness now after a few months with her.”
“Sam always greeted her that way, like a worried puppy, convinced it must be dumb luck that he got to see her again, as if she would disappear forever unless he acted ecstatic at every greeting.
“Every day he amazed her all over again, terrifying her and charming her by his existence.”
“She took a deep breath, relieved and destroyed all in one second.”
While making my way through this literary temptation known as Shut Out, I felt conflicted. Even immediately after finishing, I remain a bit addled and unsure in how to review or rate it. The writing was stellar – as are all Ms. Crowe’s books – yet there were elements in the story that greatly disturbed me. At one point I huffed to my husband that I must be cursed as Ms. Crowe just happened to employ all my least favorite tropes and plot devices in this painful tale – one that I couldn’t seem to walk away from despite my sputtering. The story twisted me up and nearly broke me. I was uncomfortable, antsy, miserable, and so fearful that it was going to end badly that I even considered not finishing, but that really wasn’t an option as despite my agony… I could not stop reading. My eyes stung and I was actually trembling and quaking as I read… and I will confess, this happened more than once. Yet I could not put my kindle down. I muttered many invectives at and about my beloved Ms. Crowe, whom I suspect has either mastered some form of magic or has sold her soul to the devil, as she has me under her spell.
So while licking my figurative wounds from her battering of my sore coronary muscle, I decide Ms. Crowe did indeed redeem herself with the sustaining conclusion, and that she also managed to appease my distress by appropriately identifying the behaviors that were of concern to me as abuse rather than an acceptable practice. She tied up most of those niggling loose ends rather nicely. After a large glass of wine and undoubtedly breathing easier, it appears that I am back in fan-girl mode. But I still have to wonder if a soul has been bartered…