“This is not lovemaking but narcissistic brutality, a dark hell of burning fire.”

The US Review of Books

The moment Mary meets Doctor Drake Lucifer Bates, she’s intrigued by him. What starts out as a doctor’s visit soon morphs into something more scandalous, as Mary and Drake start an affair. Between her rocky marriage with her husband, Paul, and the advances Drake makes during sessions, Mary finds herself drawn more and more to Drake, even as the red flags start to appear. This first book in the author’s trilogy follows Mary as she becomes Drake’s patient and soon lover, getting further entangled in a relationship that is hypnotic and passionate but also dangerous. Mary and Drake’s story unfolds across the globe in this captive affair, as Mary tries not to lose herself over to Drake completely and get wrapped up in his manipulative schemes.

Written in the first person and based on real-life experiences, Stark’s narrator is engaging and self-aware. Mary is a dramatic, opinionated, and intelligent woman who can’t stop herself from falling for Drake’s sweet gestures and behaviors, even when he turns angry and aggressive towards her. In hindsight, she clearly knows that this relationship with her doctor was a dangerous, if tantalizing, mistake, but she can’t help sharing the story with the reader, laughing at and judging her actions and desires through a lens of a now wiser person. Stark manages to capture the protagonist’s conflicting emotions of repulsion and attraction and of feeling trapped by her situation yet thrilled at prospects. This is usually accomplished by having Mary’s various thoughts mirroring each other. Mary’s account of her relationship with Drake reads like an enormous confession, a secret shared over a bottle of wine.

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