3.7 17
by Elene Sallinger

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An award-winning erotic romance for fans of Fifty Shades of Grey

Claire Ryan is finally coming out of her shell after a devastating breakup. What better way to rejoin the world than through a romance book club. But she never expects to find love for herself... Bookshop owner Evan Lang still harbors deep grief for the death of his wife.

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An award-winning erotic romance for fans of Fifty Shades of Grey

Claire Ryan is finally coming out of her shell after a devastating breakup. What better way to rejoin the world than through a romance book club. But she never expects to find love for herself... Bookshop owner Evan Lang still harbors deep grief for the death of his wife. He'd introduced her to a world of domination she'd never before known. He thinks he'll never be able to find someone that open, that responsive again. Until Claire walks through his door...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sallinger’s debut follows a novice’s exploration of BDSM, coming across more as a handbook for nervous explorers than as an erotic story. Recently single, Claire Ryan seeks a new social life through a romance book club, where she befriends confidante Bridget and eyes the store’s owner, emotionally congested widower Evan Lane. Claire lingers after meetings to read erotica about submission and kink, which Evan secretly curates for her education. Sallinger’s earnest, didactic tone (“Her underlying need was one many people had”) contrasts oddly with the emotional melodrama related to Evan’s excessive self-denial, possessiveness, and clichéd misunderstanding of Claire’s relationship with her brother, all of which undercut the scenes of sex and play. Dominant Evan’s dramatic emotional journey both helps and occasionally hinders Claire’s increasing acceptance of her desires, until she confronts him and brings about a happy conclusion. Sallinger’s research is too much in evidence for simple sexy entertainment, but neophytes will learn a lot. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Awakening is not a typical story, but rather an exploration of how two people can come together and bring new life to each other. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has felt alone and deeply in need of love" - Book Enamored

"Old wounds surface and demand attention. That said, the title suggests the relationship between Claire and Evan is that awakening...for both of them. Fans of Cherise Sinclair will enjoy Awakening. Evan is a Dom with a hard past and a heart of gold." - Midwest Galley Girl

"This story of these two emotionally needy characters brings this erotica read to a whole other level. The author does a great job of delving into the psyche of both characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it with five stars." - ckwlofton~Books & Photos and a little bit of everything else

"Elene Sallinger has written strong characters with compelling stories." - Dirty Girls' Good Books Blog

"'Awakening' was really an incredible story, it showed how intimate and loving a BDSM relationship can be. Steamy, romantic, AND educational. This book pointed out how a little bit of knowledge (gained from our favorite erotic novels) can be dangerous. If novels have awakened your BDSM side, it pays to do your research before jumping into the lifestyle. " - Mommy Porn

"Wow! This was an emotionally charged read! I am still thinking about it!" -

"It feels like the reader is initiated into the world of BDSM with Claire, everything is explained, and for once it doesn't all feel too full on. I feel the author did a wonderful job of capturing the emotions of the characters, and letting us, the reader in on them. " - Afternoon Bookery

"Elene Sallinger knows how to turn up the heat and strike your pleasure points with a fine leather flogger." - Robert Downs, Top Goodreads Reviewer

"The characters were wonderful, just heartbreakingly honest, so real. This was the backbone of the whole book." - Deluged with Books

"Awakening is the perfect story for those looking for more mature lead characters." - Book Drunk Blog

"I recommend this to anyone who want a deeper book than sex or BDSM. This is a story about people, the choices they have made and how they can overcome their mistakes and make a better life for each other. The steamy sex did help though" - Delighted Reader

"If you want to see reality and an actual scenario of a BDSM relationship, dig in." - SBookLover Reviews

"What I loved the most about this story, is that while it's centered around BDSM, it's unique to it's predecessors and goes beyond what the general public knows about the lifestyle. Elene Sallinger has created a beautiful romance that will stick with me" - Cocktails and Books

"Refreshing. Interesting. A great story for those of you looking for a new perspective on BDSM," - The Romance Reviews

"Sallinger brings potent storytelling and characterization to the erotic romance table, offering an actual BDSM novel (as opposed to the BDSM-lite of the Fifty Shades series) with emotional depth and a sweeping romantic sensibility. An emotionally satisfying tale for the BDSM romance crowd.
" - Kirkus

Kirkus Reviews
A bookstore owner with dominant tendencies meets a customer who clearly needs a firm hand, and so he decides to help her explore her submissive side despite his own emotional limitations. From the moment Claire walks into his bookstore, Evan is aware of her, a state of affairs that does not sit well with him, since he feels it's a betrayal to the memory of his wife, Marianne, who died of cancer two years ago. Evan and Marianne had been soul mates, perfect for each other in every way, including their dom/sub sexual relationship. So meeting Claire, and realizing she is subconsciously begging for a dom, isn't a welcome realization. Nor is the raging attraction he feels for her and the overwhelming desire to have her as his sub. However, imagining her with any other man, especially a potentially destructive dom who would hurt her, fills him with dread and, to his shame, jealousy. For her part, Claire tells herself that the sexy store owner—who is delightful to everyone but her—is an arrogant jerk and not worth her time, but for some reason, the erotic daydreams she has regarding her emerging sub tendencies always seem to star the enigmatic bookseller. She has a few sexual and emotional hang-ups of her own, and despite the caution her brain urges her to maintain, her emotions don't want to listen. When Evan approaches her with a tantalizing proposition to help her discover her true sexual nature, she jumps at the chance, not realizing that his physical dominance and generosity will lead to a different kind of challenge—one that risks her vulnerable heart. Sallinger brings potent storytelling and characterization to the erotic romance table, offering an actual BDSM novel (as opposed to the BDSM-lite of the Fifty Shades series) with emotional depth and a sweeping romantic sensibility. A few character annoyances—Evan's self-flagellation over his "betrayal" gets a little old, given his general emotional wisdom; Clare's transformation seems a little uneven—don't ultimately sabotage a strong, compelling effort. An emotionally satisfying tale for the BDSM romance crowd.
Festival of Romance Judge

 If Fifty Shades of Grey intrigued you, Awakening will take you to a whole new level of desire, submission and unforgettable romance’.

Festival of Romance Competition Judge Elizabeth Coldwell said

 ‘Awakening was one of many entries which explored BDSM and relationships involving male domination and female submission but it stood out not only because of the quality of writing, but because it was by far the most romantic entry. I was gripped by the conflicted attraction of the hero and heroine, and found myself longing to know what happens as the story progresses. I'm sure it will be a perfect addition to Xcite's range of books.’ - Blogger Rachel Simons

Five star Must read

I really enjoyed Awakening, I love romance novels with an extra added spice and this was perfect for me. Both Claire and Evan were grieving, Claire from her relationship break-up and Evan due to his wife dying. Evan really fell for Claire but refuses to get over his dead wife, there was a lot of emotional baggage on both sides.

I liked that Claire and Evan got to know each other a lot first and that for those contemplating BDSM, with trust building too. I would imagine if you do not trust the other person completely that the whole scene would be very scary.

I liked that Awakening was written with compassion and there is a good story to it and not just about sex, Obviously there was some BDSM and sex in the book but not too much to detract from the main story.

This is the first book I have read from the author Elene Sallinger and I thoroughly enjoyed it and will look out for more of her work. She is a fantastic author.

Coffee Time Romance & More - Danielle

Rating: 5 Cups

Claire Ryan knows something must be wrong with her. Pushing her longtime boyfriend into hating her is bad enough. Pushing him to abuse her so she can find some sort of release makes her feel as if she is worthless.

From the first moment he sees her, Evan Lang knows he is in trouble. The vulnerable, fragile-looking woman who walks into his bookstore screams to the Dom in him that has been dormant since his wife’s passing.

Claire finds herself instantly attracted to Evan, but he wants nothing to do with her until, after many nights of building sexual tension, it all explodes, and both find themselves entangled in each other’s arms. Not ready to give his heart away but willing to explore the BDSM side his body craves, Evan agrees to teach Claire about the world and why he thinks it is what she has been craving all this time. He knows she is going to learn things about herself that will scare her and have her run from the truth. He just does not expect to find himself facing a truth about himself that will have him questioning whether he should run away or not.

I have always enjoyed a good BDSM novel. There is something about this genre that has to be written a certain way. Too much information in a scene and you feel like you are reading a manual about bondage. Not enough information and you find yourself being disconnected from the storyline and the characters. Ms. Sallinger has the perfect combination to make this tale exquisitely beautiful, touchingly heart-wrenching and hedonistic enough to keep your body on fire. Awakening shows Claire as she grows from being a woman who questions everything about herself into a person who is comfortable with expecting the respect she deserves. On top of this revelation, we have Evan, the proverbial tortured hero who struggles throughout the story to fight the very nature that calls to every BDSM bone in his body. What an outstanding work by an author I have not read before. You can bet I will be looking for books from Ms. Sallinger in the future!

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Product Details

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5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Claire Ryan pushed open the door to Bibliophile and struggled to calm her racing heart. Once inside, she rushed over to a large, square table covered in the newest bestsellers and leant heavily against it as she struggled to regain her balance. Closing her eyes tightly, she breathed deeply and silently chanted “In two, three, four. Out two, three, four. In two, three, four. Out two, three, four”. She continued the breathing exercises she’d read about in her latest Zen book as she fought the panic rushing through her veins.

Fifteen years. That’s how long it had been since she’d done anything social by herself, and she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to do this. She’d waffled all day about whether or not to come before finally becoming thoroughly sick of herself. It was just a goddamn book club meeting. It wasn’t like she was running the gauntlet. Well, not literally.

The last year had been spent in near isolation with only Chester, her Pitbull, for company. She had no friends, she was estranged from her family, and her relationship of 14 years had ended, leaving her alone. Claire had been determined to take the time to figure out what she was doing with her life, and the last year had been spent laying the foundation for living. For the first few months, she’d fooled herself into believing that she was actually living. She worked, she ate, she read, she went to sleep and she took care of Chester. That was it. That was the sum total of Claire’s life for the last 365 days. Today was the anniversary of her break-up with Charlie. It was no coincidence that she’d chosen it to re-enter the living world.

Slowly, Claire felt her chest loosen and her breathing slow to normal. Once she was certain she wasn’t going to pass out, she stood and smoothed her sweater down over her hips before standing straight and taking one last deep breath. On the exhale, she finally took a look around the store. Bibliophile was a small, local bookstore that catered to hardcore readers. It offered services for locating hard to find and out-of-print books and held regular readings, book clubs, and author events. For over ten years, Claire had walked by the store, but never once been inside. She’d done all of her shopping at the local Barnes & Noble, online, or simply checked books out at the library.

The store was actually a converted townhouse in the growing urban district of River Rock, Vermont. It was cosy, with row upon row of shelves housing books of every genre. The front of the building was dominated by a huge bay window with a clever display of books set up like a house of cards next to a sign announcing the store’s monthly event calendar. Perpendicular to the window was the checkout counter, which held a smattering of pens and bookmarks along with a Dell flat screen monitor and computer. The counter was neat and free of the usual clutter one tended to find in such places. In fact, as Claire scanned the entire store, searching out the club meeting, it was neat as a pin. The floors were oak done in a parquet style where the grain alternated direction. Cheery yellow paint covered the walls, which were lined with classic movie posters and playbills. The overall effect was modern vintage.

Hearing voices coming from the back, Claire headed in that direction. Just as she stepped into the aisle between New Releases and Popular Fiction, the single most gorgeous man she had ever seen stepped out of the row closest to the register and walked behind the counter. That fast she lost her breath all over again.

He was tall, well over six feet, with close-cropped, black hair that showed just a hint of grey at the temples. His face was almost harsh, with a strong chin and straight nose. Given the heavy shadow he was sporting at just past 6 p.m., Claire guessed he probably had to shave twice a day if he really wanted to stay smooth. He was older, probably in his late 40s, but extremely fit. His lean firm body was accentuated by the black T-shirt and black jeans he wore. The T-shirt lovingly accentuated his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Rugged. That was it. If she had to find one word to describe him, it was rugged. He had her body tightening in places she’d forgotten about.

Claire watched as he set down the stack of books he was carrying and reached for the mouse. She felt rooted to the spot. She knew better than to gawk, but he was stunning. She could stand there and watch him for ever. He moved with an unconscious grace that was almost erotic. His fingers were long and his hands were large yet surprisingly deft as he moved the mouse, clicking every now and then. From her angle, Claire could see that his eyes were a dark brown and she bet that if she got close, she’d probably have a hard time discerning the iris from the pupil. He mesmerised her. She couldn’t remember ever being so taken aback by a man. Not even Charlie, and he was the best looking man she’d ever dated.

Pain stabbed through her at the thought of Charlie. She had no right to stand there and ogle this man. After what she’d done, she knew better than to indulge in such a pointless endeavour. In obvious approval of her decision, a wave of cool air swept across Claire as a bell rung and another patron entered. The breeze fluttered her hair and pushed her gently toward the back. Taking it as a sign, Claire scurried into the stacks to find her club meeting. 

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