Branded Sanctuary by Joey W. Hill
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Length: Full Length (227 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Fern
Chloe has always been a creature of joy and laughter. Since a brutal attack nearly a year ago, the trauma she experienced has gotten worse. She has started hiding from her life, even putting up walls between herself and those she cares about most. During a panic attack one night, she impulsively calls a number that she’s had for many months. Chloe met Brendan at her boss’s wedding. With confidence and seduction, he easily steps into the role of helping her manage her fear. By the end of the long call, they’ve indulged in some serious flirtation and mind-blowing phone sex—and she’s feeling things she’s buried for too long.
The problem is that Brendan is the perfect male submissive—and Chloe isn’t wired for the D/s lifestyle. While their attraction is undeniable, Chloe doesn’t know if she can be everything Brendan needs. As a submissive, Brendan would never ask her to be something she’s not—even if it will break both of their hearts to turn away from how they feel about each other.
Sometimes when you anticipate the release of a particular story, you worry that it might not be all that you hope for. Perhaps the path created won’t be what you envisioned, or maybe the characters won’t come to life as you’ve seen them in your head. So when the moment arrives, and you have the story in hand, there is a level of nervousness involved. Thus was the case with Branded Sanctuary, the seventh book in Joey W. Hill’s unforgettable and eagerly anticipated Nature of Desire series.
This time around, we finally get to share Chloe and Brendan’s story. Brendan is a sexual submissive through-and-through, while Chloe – the victim of a violent and horrific crime – is still struggling to overcome lingering mental scars. Their attraction at the wedding of a mutual friend was friendly but flirty, yet, it’s taken a year for Chloe to reach out. As soon as she does, a domino effect occurs. As a submissive, Brendan wants to lance her wounds and soothe her soul, while Chloe wants to understand a man who lives to serve – in all ways.
What occurs is a journey of discovery, revelation, and healing. Not only does Chloe carry hidden scars, so does Brendan. While each need to come clean and tear away the bandage that allows the misery to fester, fear keeps them tethered, a prisoner to their own torments. The path to salvation is paved in pain, anger, and uncertainty, which is gut-wrenching, yet necessary, to witness. Joey W. Hill is the Mistress of forcing the soul to bleed in order to heal, tearing at the foundation of the human condition until she not only grips your heart – she owns it. That is her power, and her mastery flows across each and every page.
Fans of Ms. Hill will devour this story and start all over again once the journey is completed. The characters are more than mere sums of parts on paper, they are people who live, breath, hurt, crave, and love. Unlike others who will delve into the technical aspects of the work, focusing on the eccentricities of the plot and how it affects the characters, I am intentionally avoiding doing so. The blurb is more than enough reference. Go into it with what you know and allow the story to consume you – as it was intended.
I’m rating this Branded Sanctuary as a best book. Once upon a time, I swore no story would ever compare to my favorite JWH title, Beloved Vampire, but this one is causing me to reevaluate that stance. This is the kind of book that lingers with you for days, until the compulsion to return to the pages lures you in and you read it all over again.