4.7 StarsBook Cover / Book Blurb = .5 Cover /3.5 Book Blurb, Total 4 StarsWriter’s Voice = 5 StarsCharacter Development = 4.5 StarsStory Appreciation = 5 StarsWorth the Chili = 5 Stars -- [ARC from Netgalley]I’m in absolute awe of this writer’s voice. This book is truly a total sensual treat, reminiscent of a fine wine.Nora poked her head in the bathroom, inhaling with pleasure the warm scent of his soap and shaving cream. Men simply had no idea how profound an effect their masculine scent could have on a woman. She already felt her pulse beginning to surge …The story itself is not for the faint of heart. It isn’t a love story with a “happily ever after”. But, then, the definition of “happily ever after” looks very different for each of us.Three  things I liked about this book:1.) This book is rich with symbolism. It invokes a depth of thought in the reader not seen often in a romance novel, but then again, this is anything but the “typical” romance. The author can paint such beautiful pictures with her words. She tells the story using a “book within a book” format. A very difficult feat. But, added to this, she draws contrasts and provides explanation via symbolism.“Pain is a gift from God. It imparts understanding wisdom. Pain is life. And here we give pain as freely as we give pleasure.”2.) My favorite character is Soren. For me, he was once broken and has learned a way to survive and be balanced. He will never be truly happy without Nora completely, but Nora will never be his because to give up what he would need to give up to have her would be his ultimate downfall. The author tells us the story at least twice about the couple who gave all they had to buy the other a gift. He sold his watch to buy her a hair fob; she sold her hair to buy him a watch chain. So, in the end they sacrificed all they had for the other, and in doing so only had the gesture to show for the sacrifice. This is exactly what is happening between Nora and Soren. A love that will never be but they can each have comfort in the gesture. Each of the characters in this book is richly painted for us. Sheer excellence.“You are human. And that is the better part of your beauty…”3.) My foray into D/s subculture. I am a virgin and this book helped me to understand some of the thought process within the lifestyle, if it is to be believed. Pain is symbolic of love; to hurt but not to harm. The safeword and its’ importance; the rule they all adhere to. Michael was an interesting character and he helped me understand Nora a bit. He is a very young man struggling with his inner demons. He is fighting an element within himself that is not “normal” and is very unhappy for it. Nora has been asked to help him accept himself. Help him see he can exist and be accepted and to understand he is not a monster. In her dominance, she assumes a very caring, nurturing persona. Outstanding.But she remembered how Soren had saved her a lifetime of misery when he’d told her what she was, what she could be. She understood why Michael had tried to kill himself … As Nora studied Michael she told herself it was her duty to stay, to help him any way she could.Three  things I didn’t appreciate or like:1.) The cover of this book does nothing for me. Stiletto’s seem to be the rage in covers right now. If I were to search on Amazon for five  minutes, I bet I could find at least a dozen more who had stiletto’s on the cover. This book deserves more than this. Very cheesy and not appealing.2.) Zach’s character. Now, the author achieved her goal if it was for me to really not like him at all. I thought of him as the “ball-less Wonder”. He had a wife, but she left him or he left her. He wanted, then didn’t want Nora. He was an exemplary Editor, but very immature in his acceptance or flexibility of others. He is a total waste of “skin and hair”. Nothing really to like about him. He couldn’t even relax and take full advantage of the blow-job Nora gave him. He wanted to feel guilty after. Whatever! Man up dude!3.) **SPOILER ALERT** Soren’s profession was a bit surprising. It worked in the story, but disturbed me a bit and I’m not even Catholic. I think it had to be this way because of the dilemma Nora had. Nora was saving Soren from himself and had the cold comfort of knowing it. Not sure if the story would have worked differently if another profession was selected, but it was disturbing … just have to say.Overall, a very, very good book. This author is now a favorite and her books go on my “gotta’ read” pile immediately. She doesn’t write the typical story, but there are enough of those out there we can suffer through a high achieving book like this periodically. Not for everyone due to the subject content and the message delivered, but take a risk and give this one a shot. I double-dog dare you!Happy Reading!This reader respectfully thanks Tiffany Reisz and the publisher Harlequin for this ARC via Netgalley.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ARC on 06/03/2012.