From the first novel in the DEVIATIONS series the author duo Chris Owen and Jodi Payne captivated me with a triangular developing relationship. Not only did they give me some high quality BDSM that rocked the eroticism, but also intricate characters who got under my skin very quickly. I thought it all ended with book four; BONDAGE, so color me surprised to find out my favorite BDSM series got a fifth novel release. Of course I immediately bought it and fired up my e-reader, eager to become a part again in the emotional journey of Dominant, Tobias and his two subs, Noah and Phantom. All I discovered while reading however was that the continuance of this series with SAFE WORDS wasn’t up to par with its previous releases.
It isn’t that Tobias, Noah or Phantom are suddenly different, or that the eroticism fails to heat up the pages. Neither is it the love, for it is evident from start to finish this threesome has something unique going on. I think a part of what diminished the magic in SAFE WORDS is that at the end of book four; BONDAGE I knew Tobias, Noah and Phantom could concur any minor difficulties left to deal with in this ménage. By then they were so deeply in love, their communications skills good and the major problems were solved. That left very little within SAFE WORDS to deal with which showed in the first hundred pages. The day to day activities were at the forefront. It was getting up, making breakfast, having a morning discipline for Noah and Phantom, getting to work together, discuss work related problems, go home, have some sexing, cuddling and go to sleep. It was monotonous and the storyline became tedious for me, lacking the depth in which previous struggles were solved.
Tobias, Noah and Phantom still have that intricate connection though but save one issue for Phantom and a short clash between the three of them, that connection wasn’t challenged much. For lovers of this series it still gives a nice return to the three men with their vibrant personalities. Men who I’ve become very attached to over the course of this series. Tobias is ever the even tempered, giving man who loves to be a Dom. He has his hands full with his two subs, Noah and Phantom. Noah is a man who enjoys the challenge and he is a steady influence on Phantom. Phantom on the other hand is a live wire of emotions and body movement. Each of these three men has his strengths and weaknesses but together they are a unit and their interpersonal connection is translated in the dialogues which is full of humor, passion and everything else they feel.
Every ingredient in the DEVIATIONS series was present but subdued. I can’t say there was bad writing or that that characters had a completely turn around in their behavior. Even the sex play was spine-tingling and there was also some character growth in the latter part of the story. Still, I can’t deny I missed something. Whether it was an intense romantic development, more struggles within the ménage or a higher level of engaging storytelling, I can’t pin point my fingers to the exact thing that made this entry feel so off for me. Perhaps it comes down to the fact that by the end of SAFE WORDS I felt I could’ve done without it and still feel absolutely fantastic about this series. Now I feel let down while the characters are still so very dear to me.
Whatever magic Chris Owen and Jodi Payne possess it isn’t really happening in SAFE WORDS creating a story I could’ve done without in this series.