Review: Submissive Secrets (Crashing Hearts, #3) by Zane Menzy

Sex taught him how to destroy others. Love will teach him how to heal himself. 

Keegan Andrews and his father's best mate should never have gone away together for his eighteenth birthday. The birthday Keegan lost his virginity after tricking the handsome womanizer into being his first-time. Still, Keegan can't deny he enjoyed it--that he got a sadistic kick out of having his way with the arrogant, Damon Harris. Keegan now knows he has the power to turn his dark fantasies into reality... and he intends to use it.

Damon is nervous about visiting Keegan and his mother for Christmas. It will be the first time he has seen the seductive lad since that night in the cabin. A night where lines were crossed that never should have been. However, Damon is adamant he won't succumb again to the young guy's twisted desires. But after a tender moment between them, Damon crumbles and finds himself committing more submissive secrets.

Matt Andrews feels empty and lonely. It has been six months since his wife left him and moved back to London. The shy accountant worries if he will ever experience love again. His heartache is momentarily distracted when his estranged son, Keegan, turns up at his door and asks to stay. Matt relishes the opportunity to reconnect. But why has Keegan turned up unexpectedly and why has Matt's best mate, Damon, suddenly stopped visiting? Matt doesn't know it but Keegan and Damon have unleashed a chain of events that will send hearts crashing while long-forgotten feelings erupt back to life.

Submissive Secrets can be read as a standalone romance novel and has a HEA. It is the final book in the Crashing Hearts Series. The story contains explicit language, sex scenes, a wedding, and a life-sized My Little Pony.

It took me weeks to get through this book. I kept holding out hope that it would get better. Aside from wondering how all these shenanigans could possibly lead to an HEA, it did not.

First and foremost, it could've used a thorough edit. There were continuity errors, things could've been streamlined and I think the narrative would've been better served had it stuck to one couple rather than diverting attention four ways. I'm not one to harp on multiple POVs but they need to make sense, to have a purpose where the plot is concerned.

But mainly it came down to writing style. And we did not mix well. Menzy does a lot of things that I personally don't like with his prose. So in no particular order: telling rather than showing, using slang like "cum n go" but avoiding contractions, random conversations that don't add to the narrative or push the plot forward and an excessive use of superficial metaphors.

Secondly, I didn't like any of these characters. They're all vain, vapid, juvenile, and fickle. I couldn't connect with any of them and if I can't connect with at least one character, it makes it nearly impossible for me to get into a book. Characters needn't be likable and they can even be diabolical, but they have to have some metaphorical meat on their bones and none of these did; they all have the same voice and are one-dimensional. However, Menzy did do a great job of making them shallow and anemic.

The plot as ridiculous as it is did hold my interest in a car crash sort of way, but still.

What drew me to this book were the age gap romance and the kink, but Keegan and Damon aren't ever really together. Damon is kind of pathetic actually and I felt sorry for him. He's a lonely and shallow thirtysomething relying solely on his looks to attract attention from anyone. Keegan is a stereotypical 18 y/o boy who would fuck a tree if it appealed enough. There's nothing wrong with that but there's nothing compelling or engaging about it either, to me at least. I crave depth and emotionality in my reads both of which were thin on the ground.

Keegan and Damon have sex twice and Keegan is essentially hate fucking Damon. He calls it dominating and needing "control" but to call what they do BDSM is reductive. What most of the sex reminded me of is dirty pig fucking (thanks tumblr!) which is mostly about tops annihilating bottoms, fucking holes, filling them with cum or piss or... other things, licking/sniffing armpits and kind of humiliating the bottom which isn't what I would deem romantic. I'm sure in the right hands it can be and I'm not passing judgment against those who enjoy it. I've watched it and sometimes it's hot. Not so much here, but still. I can see the appeal for those whose kink is humiliation, but humiliation with no emotional connection I find unappetizing. Moreover, if you're trying to sell me a romance narrative I need more of an emotional connection and chemistry between the MCs and neither of these couples have chemistry. There was definitely an attempt made towards the end at romance but it felt oddly tacked on, manufactured and hollow.

After the proverbial shit hits the fan Garth and Keegan head to Auckland to stay with Matt, Keegan's father and they fall in love in a week during which Keegan coerces Garth into losing his virginity. Meanwhile Damon engineers a rekindling of his past sexual relationship with Matt so he can have some leverage then decides he's been in love with Matt all along. These melodramas are but the tip of the iceburg. The sheer volume of manipulation utilized by both Damon and Keegan in an effort to keep their paramours turned my stomach a little bit because that isn't love nor is it romantic. Matt at one point punches Damon in the face then kicks him in the head yet I'm to believe it's ok because he was upset. Yeah, no.

I wouldn't recommend this and it's highly unlikely I'll read anything else by Menzy but there are others who have sung its praises and if you enjoy Dick Lit wherein errrrrryyyyone wants the D because Damon and Keegan and their monster cocks are so irresistible even to the straight boys (yes, I'm making up this "genre") then you'll likely love it too.

A review copy was provided.

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